By / August 29, 2022

Young American Adults Are Using More Cannabis and Psychedelics

Cannabis and psychedelic substance use among young American adults has reached a record high, according to a federal cannabis survey. The data was collected by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and showed a resurgence after a year of low use of all substances by young adults in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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Cannabis Survey Shows 34% Increase in Regular Cannabis Use

The cannabis survey was conducted among individuals aged 19-60 from April to October 2021 and found that 43% of young adults (aged 19-30) reported using cannabis 20 or more times in the past month, a 34% increase from previous survey results. These increases were also present among those aged 54 to 50, but to a lesser extent.

The researchers who conducted the cannabis survey are surprised by these results, which show that young adults are not only more interested in cannabis and psychedelics than previous generations but also in nicotine vaping and alcohol.

High-Intensity Drinking Has Also Returned to Pre-Pandemic Levels

According to the NIH, reports of heavy drinking by young adults (defined as having five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks) returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 after declining significantly in 2020.

“High-intensity drinking, defined as having ten or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks, was at its highest level since it was first measured in 2005, reported by 13% of young adults in 2021, up from 11% in 2005. However, past-month and past-year drinking, as well as daily drinking, have been declining among young adults for the past ten years.”

Cannabis Survey Results Influenced By Multiple Factors

Many factors contribute to the cannabis survey results, according to the study. In addition to a more lax attitude toward cannabis and, to some extent, psychedelics, these numbers also reflect the mental health of young adults in the U.S., which has likely plummeted in the wake of the pandemic.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the NIH, called the cannabis survey findings “very concerning.”

“What they tell us is that the problem of drug use among young people has gotten worse in this country, and the pandemic, with all its mental stressors and disruptions, probably contributed to that increase,” she said.

More Americans Smoke Cannabis than Tobacco

In a separate Gallup cannabis survey conducted last week, more Americans (16%) reported smoking cannabis than tobacco (11%) in the past week.

Personal experience with cannabis is also strongly related to Americans’ views of it:

  • A large majority of adults who say they have tried cannabis – nearly half of Americans – believe that its effects on users (70%) and on society in general (66%) are positive.
  • Conversely, the majority of those who have never tried cannabis think its effects are negative: 72% say so about its effects on society and 62% about its effects on users.

(Featured image by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels)

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