Consideration of Future Consequences and Substance Use in Truant Adolescents

Michelle Castro

Authors:  Michelle Castro, Ali M. Yurasek, Ph.D., Ricarda K. Pritschmann, M.S.

Faculty Mentor:  Ali M. Yurasek, Ph.D

College:  College of Health and Human Performance


Background: Truancy refers to unexpected absences from school without parental or school approval. Adolescents who are truant are more likely to report failing grades, low perceptions of graduation, and higher levels of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. Marijuana use among adolescents is associated with various short-term and long-term consequences including delinquency, school dropout, health problems, and future risk of substance use disorder. The aim of this study is to assess how marijuana using truant adolescents consider the future when making decisions in the present using the Consideration of Future Consequences (CFC) scale compared to their non-using peers. Method: This study will recruit 100 participants. Currently, 14 truant adolescents (Mage= 15.4, 85.7% female), who reported at least 5 unexcused absences from school in 90 days, have completed an online assessment. Of the 14 participants, 5 reported using marijuana. ANCOVAs will be conducted to examine scores on the CFC between marijuana using and non-using adolescents. Expected Results: We hypothesize that marijuana using, truant adolescents will report lower CFC scores, (thus consider the future less) compared to those who do not use marijuana. Findings can be used to inform and supplement marijuana intervention and prevention programs.

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18 Responses
  1. Emily Case

    This is so fascinating! And I love how well done your poster is as well. I’m taking notes for the next time I make one!!

  2. Heather Gibson

    Thanks Michelle an interesting study!

    Have you thought about (for future research) adding a thrill seeking personality type measure such as Sensation Seeking to see if choice of using marijuana and other risky behavior such as skipping school are more likely in adolescents with higher sensation seeking traits? Thanks again!!

    1. Michelle Castro

      That’s a great suggestion! Adding a Sensation Seeking measure could help us make a stronger argument for the diminished value of future rewards that these adolescents may experience and help explain why they prefer to engage in these riskier behaviors more than their non-using peers.

      Thank you!

      1. Heather Gibson

        Thanks….some interesting ideas about the lack of concern about future rewards. In UK sociology we also would look at social class and that the idea of deferred gratification ie focusing on exams and school would lead to future benefits rather than pleasure now was also very much a middle class value. I wonder if those ideas would translate to the US context.

        Well done again!

        1. Michelle Castro

          That’s so interesting! When I was looking at previous studies using the CFC in adolescents I came across one that was done in the United States that found that adolescents also get a lot of influence from their peers, so if it seems like their friends are disinterested in future consequences, they tend to adopt those beliefs as their own. There are definitely a lot of social factors that can attribute to this disinterest in the future.

    1. Michelle Castro

      Hi Eshani,

      Thank you for the comment! It would be interesting to compare how much cannabis influences the CFC of non-truant adolescents compared to their truant peers. Is school attendance impactful enough to make adolescents consider the future more or does cannabis diminish reward value regardless of truancy? This would make an interesting follow-up study!

  3. William Zelin

    Hi Michelle! Great work. I was curious if you had any specific proposals to address the issues of truancy and/or marijuana use among youth.

    1. Michelle Castro

      Hi William!

      Currently, for truant adolescents, a lot of the interventions to help them stay in school are court-ordered and can sometimes not be helpful in addressing the root of the problem for their truancy. I think that interventions should be made tailored to each individual. Everyone has different reasons for truancy so I think if interventions spent a little more effort on why students are skipping school, then the solution can be a bit more personalized and helpful to both students and their families.

  4. Ambreen Imran

    This was a really interesting study! I’m curious as to what you think an effective intervention would look like for cannabis-using adolescents? Also, did demographics play a significant role in impacting the findings of this study? For example, could living situation influence the propensity of adolescents to use cannabis and not realize future consequences?

    1. Michelle Castro

      Hi Ambreen!

      I think an effective intervention for cannabis-using adolescents should be very personal to each individual. I should include an area where these adolescents can add what other activities they are interested in to give them drug-free reinforcing alternatives to drug use. As for demographics, we did ask questions in the survey about history of drug use in family members but that was not included in this particular analysis.

  5. Joelle Dorsett

    Hi Michelle.

    This is a fascinating topic! It would be interesting seeing future work exploring the causal relationship between marijuana use and low CFC. Do you have any predictions as to which might be causing which, if an outside factor may be causing both, or if the causal relationship is bidirectional?

    1. Michelle Castro

      Hi Joelle!

      Before I really started collecting data, I hypothesized that low CFC was caused by higher use but it could definitely be the other way around where preexisting low CFC could influence their decision to experiment with drugs since drugs often provide an immediate reward (feeling “high”). After meeting some truant adolescents for another study, I see now that there are a lot of aspects that can affect truancy, a lot of which aren’t related to substance use or delinquency at all.