The link between sleep and substance abuse has been widely studied, particularly in regards to the sleep problems that can arise as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. However, recent studies have also shown a reverse relationship, suggesting poor sleep patterns can also help predict which teens may be drawn to substance use. As more studies show a compelling association between sleep and substance abuse, parents may be able to use this information to lower the risk of substance use by their teens through helping them form healthy sleep habits.
Sleep Patterns and Alcohol or Marijuana Use
Teens that tend to stay up later at night are also more likely to have used marijuana or alcohol within the past month, a new study from the Rand Corporation has found. Researchers asked more than 2,500 teens from 16 middle schools in Southern California about their total nightly sleep time, as well as their marijuana and alcohol use once they reached high school. All of the surveys were completed between May 2013 and April 2014.
“Our findings suggest that sleep issues are independently associated with alcohol and marijuana use for teens, not just a marker for other risk factors, such as depression,” Wendy Troxel, lead author for the study, was quoted as saying in a Rand Corporation press release. However, researchers cautioned that their findings did not determine a cause and effect, so it was unknown if sleep problems simply predict alcohol and marijuana use or actually lead to it.
Sleep Problems May Lead to Binge Drinking
The Rand Corporation study is not the first to show a compelling association between lack of sleep and drug and alcohol abuse. Earlier this year, researchers at Idaho State University studied more than 6,500 teenagers to determine a link between sleep and alcohol problems. Through interviews and questionnaires, the scientists found that sleep issues appeared to be a potential predictor of substance abuse.
Specified sleep problems encompassed difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, as well as sleeping too little. Specific drug and alcohol issues linked to sleep problems in this study included:
- Getting drunk or high
- Binge drinking
- Driving under the influence
- Risky sexual behavior regretted later
- Use of illegal drugs
Although sleep may be an important factor in whether a teen might use or abuse substances, it is certainly not the only one. There are many circumstances that could play into whether an adolescent will choose to use drugs or alcohol. If you suspect your teen is abusing these substances, the professionals at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers can help. Contact us today at 866-889-3665.