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    Marijuana And Hallucinogen Use Among Young Adults Reached an All-Time High in 2021

    An NIH-sponsored study also found that, after declining at the start of the pandemic, vaping levels in the previous month rose again

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    Historical highs for marijuana and hallucinogen use in the previous year among young adults (19 to 30 years old) in 2021. It illustrates the percentage of prevalence of marijuana and hallucinogen use in the previous year among young adults, which for the period 2011-2021 ranges from 0 to 50%, as reported by the 2021 Monitoring the Future panel survey. From 2011 to 2014, past year marijuana use ranged from just below to just above 30%.

    Reported past-year use of marijuana and hallucinogens by young adults ages 19 to 30 increased sharply in 2021 compared with five and 10 years ago, reaching the highest levels since 1988 in this age group, according to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) panel study. Rates of past month nicotine vaping, which have been gradually increasing among young adults over the past four years, also continued the overall upward trend in 2021, despite leveling off in 2020. Past month marijuana vaping, which had decreased considerably in 2020, rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

    Alcohol continues to be the substance most consumed by adults who participated in the study, although daily consumption, in the previous month and in the previous year has been decreasing over the last decade. Binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) rebounded in 2021, after hitting a record low level in 2020 during the first stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. By contrast, heavy drinking (drinking ten or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) has been on a steady rise over the past decade, and in 2021 it hit the highest level on record since it began being measured in 2005.

    “As the drug landscape changes over time, this data provides a window into the substances and patterns of use preferred by young adults. We need to know more about how these adults are using drugs like marijuana and hallucinogens, and the health effects of using these drugs in different strengths and presentations,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Young adults are at a crucial stage in life and are honing their ability to make informed decisions. Understanding how drug use can affect educational choices in early adulthood is key to helping position new generations for success.”

    Monitoring the Future study

    Since 1975, the Monitoring the Future study has conducted annual surveys of the drug-using behaviors and attitudes toward drugs of a nationally representative sample of adolescents. A longitudinal panel study, part of MTF, conducts follow-up surveys on a subgroup of these participants to record their drug use into adulthood. Participants self-report drug use behaviors in three main time periods: lifetime, past year (12 months), and past month (30 days). The MTF study is led by scientists at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is funded by NIDA, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    The 2021 survey data was collected online between April and October 2021. Key findings within the young adult group include:

    • Marijuana use: Daily marijuana use (used more than 20 times in the last 30 days), in the previous month, and in the previous year reached the highest levels recorded to date since 1988, when these trends began to be monitored . The proportion of young adults who reported marijuana use in the past year reached 43% in 2021, a significant increase from 34% five years ago (2016) and 29% ten years ago (2011).

    29% of young adults reported using marijuana in the previous month in 2021, compared to 21% five years earlier (2016) and 17% ten years earlier (2011). Daily marijuana use also increased sharply in those periods: In 2021, it was reported by 11% of young adults, marking a significant increase from 8% in 2016 and 6% in 2011.

    • Hallucinogen use: Past-year use of hallucinogens had remained relatively stable over the past few decades until 2020, when reported values ​​began to increase dramatically. In 2021, 8% of young adults reported using hallucinogens in the past year, the highest level since the category began to be measured in 1988. By comparison, 5% of young adults reported using hallucinogens in the past year. year in 2016, and only 3% did so in 2011. Types of hallucinogens reported by participants included LSD, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, mushrooms or psilocybin, and PCP. The only hallucinogen whose use was significantly reduced was MDMA (also called ecstasy or Molly); statistically significant decreases were observed in one year and also in the last five years, from 5% in 2016 and in 2020 to 3% in 2021.
    • Vaping: Past-month nicotine vaping increased sharply among young adults in 2021, even though it had leveled off in 2020 during the early phase of the pandemic. The continued increase in 2021 reflects an overall long-term upward trend: In 2021, the prevalence of nicotine vaping nearly tripled to 16%, compared to 6% in 2017, when records of this behavior were first taken. time. The prevalence of marijuana vaping in the past month among young adults had declined sharply in 2020, but reached levels close to pre-pandemic values ​​again in 2021. Since 2017, when marijuana vaping was added to this study, the prevalence in the previous month it has doubled, from 6% in 2017 to 12% in 2021.
    • Alcohol use: Reports of binge drinking—defined as five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks—among young adults returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, after showing a significant decline in 2020 (the consumption reached 32% in 2021, compared to 28% in 2020 and 32% in 2019). Heavy drinking — defined as having ten or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks — reached its highest level since it began to be measured in 2005: It was reported by 13% of young adults in 2021, compared to 11% in 2005.

    However, past month and past year alcohol consumption, as well as daily consumption, have shown a downward trend among young adults over the past ten years. For example, in 2021, 66% of young adults reported alcohol use in the past 30 days, a significant decrease from the 70% reported in 2016 and the 69% reported in 2011.

    The survey also revealed significant declines in past month cigarette use among young adults and in past year nonmedical use of opioid drugs (measured in the survey as “narcotics other than heroin”), compared with Ten years ago. The consumption of both substances has been in constant decline in the last decade. Other data from the 2021 MTF panel study includes reported drug use by adults ages 35-50, by college and non-college young adults, and among various demographic subgroups.

    “One of the best ways we can learn more about drug use and the impact it has on people is to look at what drugs are appearing, in what populations, for how long, and within what contexts,” said Dr. Megan Patrick, research professor at the University of Michigan and principal investigator of the MTF panel study. “Monitoring the Future and other similar large-scale surveys conducted on a uniform population sample allow us to assess the effects of ‘natural experiments,’ such as the pandemic. We can examine how and why drugs are used and highlight critical areas to define the direction of further research and guide public health interventions.”

    You will find more information regarding the data collection methods of the MTF panel study and how the survey is adjusted for possible exclusions in the report. The results of the 2021 MTF survey of drug-using behaviors and drug-related attitudes among adolescents in the United States were published in December 2021. The 2022 results will be published in December 2022.

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