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Young Americans using cannabis and hallucinogens at record rate

‘Understanding how substance use can impact the formative choices in young adulthood is critical to help position the new generations for success’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 24 August 2022 20:31 BST
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Related video: Study Shows Jump in Cannabis, Alcohol Use Among Young Adults

Young Americans between the ages of 19 and 30 are using cannabis and hallucinogens at the highest rate since the late 1980s, a survey from the National Institutes of Health shows.

The number of people within the age span using at least one of the substances is at its highest point since the start of the survey in 1988, according to National Public Radio.

National Institute on Drug Abuse director Dr Nora Volkow told NPR that “young adults are in a critical life stage and honing their ability to make informed choices”.

“Understanding how substance use can impact the formative choices in young adulthood is critical to help position the new generations for success,” she added.

The most recent data set was gathered between April and October last year – 43 per cent of young adults said they used marijuana in the last year, 29 per cent in the last month, and 11 per cent said they used it every day. Those are the highest figures ever registered.

Daily use was defined in the survey as more than 20 times in a 30-day time period. That number rose by eight per cent compared to 2016.

The number of respondents who said they used a marijuana vape in the last month went from six per cent in 2017 to 12 per cent in 2021.

The number of those who said they used hallucinogens rose sharply in 2020 as the pandemic took over American life after remaining steady for decades.

Last year, eight per cent of young adults said they had consumed a hallucinogen in the last year, which is the highest figure since the start of the survey.

The hallucinogens mentioned were LSD, mescaline, peyote, shrooms, PCP, and MDMA (molly/ecstasy), according to NPR.

The use of MDMA went down, from five per cent in 2020 to three per cent last year.

While alcohol was the most used substance according to the survey, daily drinking has still gone down over the course of the last decade.

The institute defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks in a row within the last two weeks. The practice was at a historic low at the start of 2020 amidst pandemic restrictions and is now increasing again.

High-intensity drinking, defined as having 10 or more drinks in a row within the last two weeks, has been steadily rising over the last 10 years and last year, it hit its highest level since 2005.

The use of nicotine vapes is still increasing among young Americans. It was first measured in 2017 when six per cent reported using them. Last year, that same figure was 16 per cent.

Meanwhile, the use of nicotine cigarettes and opioids has been decreasing over the last ten years, the survey shows.

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