The use and abuse of alcohol and other illicit substances has a substantial impact on school performance in children and teens. Not only do grades suffer due to poor concentration, lack of focus and energy, and drive, but students also lose interest in healthy social and extra curricular activities. Eventually, drug and alcohol abuse can lead to truancy and dropping out of school.
Various types of drugs are prevalent on high school and college campuses, and each type adversely affects some aspect of school performance. Marijuana abuse, for example, causes short-term memory loss and affects problem solving and logical thinking, all of which affects academic performance. It can also result in loss of motor coordination, which can lead to errors on the sports field. Other drugs, such as anabolic androgenic steroids, may temporarily boost athletic performance, but they eventually cause a host of emotional and anger problems, as well as a variety of negative physical side effects.
Alcohol abuse has the greatest negative impact on school performance. Alcohol abuse is tied to lower grades, poor attendance and truancy, and increases in school drop out rates. In fact, high school students who use alcohol are more than five times as likely as their non-drinking counterparts to drop out of high school. The 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA - now known as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health), revealed that as rates of alcohol use by students ages 12-17 increase, grade point averages decrease. Additionally, middle school students whose peer groups don’t use alcohol or other drugs score higher on state reading and math tests than those whose peer groups use alcohol or drugs. In any given age group, alcohol abusers are 4-6 times more likely than nondrinkers to say they cut classes or were truant. Moreover, these children and teens are twice as likely as nondrinkers to produce poor schoolwork and are more frequently disobedient at school.  Not only does alcohol affect middle and high school students, but it also affects college students. Drinking and the resulting hangovers often lead to college students missing classes or falling behind on schoolwork. In fact, alcohol is implicated in more that 40 percent of all academic problems and 28 percent of all dropouts in college. 
Clearly, alcohol and drug abuse can cause major problems for children, teens, and young adults in school. Early intervention and treatment is necessary to avoid long-term problems, and continuing education is essential to inform young people of the problems drug and alcohol use and abuse can cause.
 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 2001. Malignant Neglect: Substance Abuse and America's Schools. New York: Columbia University.
 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse Report. 2002. Academic Performance and Youth Substance Abuse. Washington, DC: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.
 Greenblatt, J. 2000. Patterns of Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Associations with Emotional and Behavioral Problems. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies Working Paper. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
 Perkins, H. 2002. Surveying the Damage: A Review of Research on Consequences of Alcohol Misuse in College Populations. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Supplement No. 14: 91-100.
 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 1994. Rethinking Rites of Passage: Substance Abuse on America's Campuses. New York: Columbia University.