Youth Substance Use Trends: Highest Rates in History

Youth Substance Use Trends: Highest Rates in History
Marijuana and nicotine e-cigarette usage among young people hit historic highs in 2021, according to a report.

According to a report released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States, in 2021, the usage rates of cannabis and nicotine electronic cigarettes among young people reached an all-time high level.

Dr. Megan E. Patrick and her colleagues at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor studied drug use prevalence and trends among young people dating back to 1975 in a monitoring group study. Participants were initially sampled in 12th grade at the age of 18, and then surveyed annually until the age of 30.

Researchers have found that in 2021, the most commonly used substances among young people in the past 12 months were alcohol, marijuana, nicotine e-cigarettes, marijuana e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and other drugs (at 81.8%, 42.6%, 21.8%, 18.7%, and 18.3% respectively). The report showed a binge-drinking rate of 32.0% and a daily marijuana use rate of 10.8%. From 2020 to 2021, there was an increase in monthly marijuana e-cigarette use, a decrease in daily alcohol consumption but an increase in binge drinking, returning to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. There was also an increase in monthly nicotine e-cigarette use, a decrease in non-medical use of narcotics other than heroin, and a decrease in non-medical use of some stimulants, including amphetamines, Adderall, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

In 2021, there was a high prevalence of cannabis, nicotine e-cigarettes, high-intensity alcohol, and hallucinogens other than LSD within a month, while smoking, excessive drinking, and the use of anesthetics other than heroin, Vicodin, and Oxycodone were at historically low levels.

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated in a press release that "understanding how drug use affects young adults' future choices is crucial in helping the next generation avoid harm.

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