High school sports linked to substance use in young adulthood

High school seniors who participate in competitive sports have a higher risk of binge drinking 1 to 4 years after high school. This finding comes from a recent study by Philip Veliz and colleagues at the ISR Youth and Social Issues Program.


Compared to peers who do not engage in any sport, the 12th graders who are in at least one competitive sport are twice as likely to binge drink 1 to 4 years later. Competitive sports participation in 12th grade is not associated with cigarette use, marijuana use, or illicit drug use other than marijuana in young adulthood.


High school seniors who engage in a high-contact sport (football, ice hockey, lacrosse, or wrestling) also have higher odds of binge drinking, plus higher odds of marijuana use, at age 19-22. Seniors in high-contact sports are almost twice as likely to binge drink or use marijuana in young adulthood, compared with 12th graders who do not participate in high contact sports.


The results are based on 970 high school seniors from six recent cohorts (2006-2011) in the Monitoring the Future study. The participants are surveyed every two years after high school.


Competitive sports participation in high school and subsequent substance use in young adulthood: Assessing differences based on level of contact is published in the March 2017 issue of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport.