Page last updated: February 18, 2014

Sport participation and alcohol and illicit drug use in adolescents and young
adults

Sport participation can play an important and positive role in the health and development of
children and youth. Researchers investigated the role that sport participation might play in preventing drug and alcohol use among youth.
The study published in Addictive Behaviours, is a systematic review of 17 longitudinal studies examining the relationship between sport participation and alcohol and drug use among adolescents.
Results indicated that sport participation is associated with alcohol use, with 82% of the
included studies (14/17) showing a significant positive relationship. Sport participation, however,
appears to be related to reduced illicit drug use, especially use of non-cannabis related drugs. 80% of the studies found sport participation associated with decreased illicit drug use, while 50% of the studies found negative association between sport participation and marijuana use. Further investigation revealed that participation in sports reduced the risk of overall illicit drug use, but particularly during high school; suggesting that this may be a critical period to reduce or prevent the use of drugs through sport.
The authors suggest that future research should investigate what conditions are necessary for sport participation to have beneficial outcomes in terms of preventing alcohol and/or illicit drug use.

Source: Sport participation and alcohol and illicit drug use in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Matthew Kwan, Sarah Bobko, Guy Faulkner, Peter Donnelly, John Cairney. Addictive Behaviours. Available online 10 November 2013.

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