College-age kids and teens are drinking less alcohol – marijuana is a different story

The Conversation 21 November 2020
Family First Comment: “While alcohol use is falling among 18-to-22-year-olds, marijuana use is inching upward. The number of young adults using both alcohol and marijuana is also rising, heightening concerns about a future surge in substance abuse problems, new research shows. The bad news is that the number of college-age young adults saying they used marijuana at least once in the previous year has increased, from 33% to 37%. The vast majority who said they used marijuana also used alcohol. We found that the increase in young adults using both was a result of young adults who used alcohol taking up marijuana, too. This increase in using both alcohol and marijuana is an important warning sign, because young adults in that group also had much higher rates of other illicit drug use, like cocaine, and prescription drug misuse, involving medications like opioids or benzodiazepines.”

Young adults aren’t drinking as much as they used to. In fact, more than a quarter don’t drink alcohol at all, recent surveys show.

It’s good news for health. But there is also a downside in the data: While alcohol use is falling among 18-to-22-year-olds, marijuana use is inching upward. The number of young adults using both alcohol and marijuana is also rising, heightening concerns about a future surge in substance abuse problems, new research shows.

I am a professor of psychology at Texas State University who has been studying young adult and adolescent substance use for over 15 years. A key interest of mine is how substance use changes over adolescence and young adulthood. It is a period of profound change: A 13-year-old is very different from a 25-year-old in nearly every way.

With colleagues at the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida and Iowa State University, I have been investigating trends in alcohol and marijuana use in young adults to better understand how use changes with age. The latest numbers offer both hope and concern.

Gen Z is breaking stereotypes
There are reasons for the stereotype of hard-drinking, substance-using young adults, as photos and videos from bars and college parties will attest. But surveys and our analysis suggest that binge drinking isn’t as common as people may believe it is.

Using data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we found that in 2018 nearly 30% of college-age adults, ages 18-22, had not had a single alcoholic drink during the previous year, compared with fewer than a quarter in 2002. Over 60% had not used marijuana at all.
READ MORE: https://theconversation.com/college-age-kids-and-teens-are-drinking-less-alcohol-marijuana-is-a-different-story-149895

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