A study in Substance Use & Misuse (2021) examined examine the longitudinal associations between intramural participation in high school and substance use among 7845 9th and 10th grade Canadian high school students.
42% of students did not participate in intramurals. For binge drinking, male students who never participated had lower odds compared to consistent intramural participators.
Female and male students who did not participate in any intramurals were more likely to use cannabis than consistent participators. Male students who did not participate were also more likely to use cigarettes. No associations were found between intramural participation and e-cigarette use.
The authors concluded that intramural participation may be associated with increased binge drinking among male high school students and protective against cannabis use among male and female students and cigarette use among male students.
This study adds to accumulating evidence that youth sports may be associated with increased risk for alcohol use and misuse, particularly among males, while having a protective effect on cigarette and perhaps other substances.
Two implications of the evolving research on youth sports and substance use include:
1) Male adolescents participating in sports should be targeted for alcohol use prevention messaging and programs, and
2) Youth sports and broader physical activities should be promoted within substance use prevention programs to enhance prevention outcomes as well as to improve the overall physical and mental health of adolescents.
Read the study abstract: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2021.1901932