Drugs won't ruin your life if you quit before 30, suggests a new study we really want to believe

Young stoners rejoice!

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If you’re in your 20s and beating yourself up over all the weed and adderall you consumed last weekend, there’s some good news for you and all your soggy but functional brain cells. It turns out that using recreational drugs might not significantly jeopardize your future life prospects — as long as you stop doing them by the time you’re 30, according to a new study.

The research, which was published in the peer reviewed journal Addiction Research & Theory, surveyed 2,350 Australians about their cannabis and amphetamine use when they were 21 years old. The same people were surveyed again nine years later and it turns out that those who had broken their drug habits by 30 were just as financially and professionally successful as their peers who had never touched the drugs, according to self-reported data.

Before you text your dealer and order a month’s supply of weed, it’s important to interpret the results of this study with a healthy level of skepticism. Addiction is just as much physiological as it is physical and most people can’t just quit on demand. Quitting any drug addiction can be a slow and painful process and if any recreational drug is negatively impacting your life or relationships, the best time to try and quit is actually right now.

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Another caveat: Although cannabis has a relatively low chance of addiction, there is such a thing as Marijuana Use Disorder that affects around 10% of weed users and can cause serious cognitive problems. This particular study found that those who continued to rely heavily on weed by age 30 had a significantly lower quality of life than their peers because it impacted their ability to function in day-to-day life.

Instead of using this study as an excuse to condemn or use more drugs, a better way to interpret this, in my opinion, is to try and see the larger drug landscape. In the age of Euphoria, it’s easy to regard drug use during young adulthood as a white or black problem, but most of us exist in a gray area somewhere between sobriety and full on addiction. Try not to beat yourself up or assume that you’re doomed for the rest of your life just cause you’re a pothead now. It turns out that your future can still look quite bright.