Faculty Spotlight: Marijuana Use

Marijuana use is a major concern on college campuses. With the legalization of recreational marijuana use, there are concerns that use will increase among students. Approximately one in five young adults report marijuana use1 and marijuana use among young adults has been associated with adverse consequences, such as academic impairment2, poorer health3, and risky behaviors such as driving a car while high.4

Seattle Pacific University is a unique environment for marijuana use. Being both a Christian university and a university located in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana (with the first sale of recreational marijuana happening in 2014), SPU offers an environment that both reduces and increases risk for marijuana use. Research has provided evidence that religiosity may reduce adolescent substance use.5 Perceived risk, measured as the perception of how using marijuana may harm the user, was higher among adolescents who reported high levels of religiosity. Adolescents with higher levels of religiosity, in turn, reported less marijuana use – suggesting religiosity may be a protective factor for marijuana use, due to the perceived risk of use.5

How can we use this information? Supporting students as they increase and explore their faith during their college experience may inadvertently affect their views and use of marijuana. While it’s important to specifically discuss marijuana use and provide awareness of the impact use may have on performance and the health of students, it’s also vital to provide a nurturing and communicative environment for students.  One of the major predictors of adolescent substance use is stress, so when college students feel supported they may not need to rely on substance use to cope with stress.

For more information marijuana use and college students, check out the National Institute of Health’s most recent research and our previous blog post on recognizing substance use among students.

1Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 64. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
2Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2015). The academic consequences of marijuana use during college. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 29(3), 564–575. doi: 10.1037/adb0000108
3Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2016). Marijuana use trajectories during college predict health outcomes nine years post-matriculation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 14(1), 1–14. doi: 10.14574/ojrnhc.v14i1.276
4Pearson, M. R., Liese, B. S., & Dvorak, R. D. (2017). College student marijuana involvement: Perceptions, use, and consequences across 11 college campuses. Addictive Behaviors, 66, 83–89. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.10.019
5Varma, M., Moore, L. S., Cataldi, J. S., Estoup, A., & Stewart, D. G. (2017). Religosity and adolescent marijuana use. Mental, Health, Religion, and Culture, 20, 229-238. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2017.1334045

Winter Blues and SAD

Fall quarter is almost over and you’re probably ready for winter break. Going home for the holidays can be great – and it can be exhausting. You’ll be transitioning from a full class load with many responsibilities to resuming your role at home and seeing family and friends. While taking a break from a busy schedule can be a stress reliever, the winter blues can creep up on you.

You might notice some changes in how you act and feel, such as increased appetite, less energy or difficulty getting out of bed, less interest in things you usually like doing, or more irritability or sadness. While some of the changes might sound like signs of depression, they could be due to another mental health problem – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it just depends on how much these things are affecting you. SAD usually affects people in the winter months and is even more common in places like Seattle, where the sun sets and rises noticeably later in the winter months. To learn more about SAD, check out the video below:

What can you do to fight the winter blues or signs of SAD?

  • Try creating a routine for yourself over winter break, like picking a time to wake up every day.
  • Schedule easy acts of self-care, like taking a walk, or drinking your favorite tea.

Depression in all its forms can be a serious problem. If you think this might be what you are going through you should seek help and more information (like from the SPU Counseling Center). Remember, it’s okay to reach out if you are having a rough time and could use some extra support. It’s important to get help so you can start feeling better sooner.