Young Adult Cannabis and Hallucinogen Use Reach Record High
The National Institutes of Health’s Monitoring the Future survey provides a snapshot of young adult drug use in the United States and a glimpse into how substance use might affect younger generations in years to come.
The survey’s most recent results reveal young adults between 19 and 30 used marijuana and hallucinogens at record-high rates in 2021. The number of people in this age group who used these drugs is higher than at any time since 1988.
What Do the Statistics Say?
The survey’s findings revealed some alarming young adult drug use trends, including the following.
- Among respondents, 11% of young adults reported daily marijuana use last year, and 12% said they had vaped marijuana within the past month.
- In 2021, 43% of young adults used cannabis products.
- About 8% of young adults admitted to using hallucinogenic substances such as LSD, PCP, MDMA and psychedelic mushrooms in 2021, compared to only 3% in 2011.
- High-intensity drinking rates also skyrocketed in 2021, with more than one in eight young adults reporting having 10 or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks.
What Is Driving the Increase in Young Adult Drug Use?
Young adult drug use had been consistently declining for years, but the unprecedented stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused an increase in substance abuse among all age groups. Overdose rates have also spiked in the last two years, taking the lives of an all-time high 107,600 Americans in 2021.
Mental health issues like depression, anxiety and trauma also go hand in hand with drug use. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ongoing pandemic has also worsened these problems by causing isolation and limiting access to resources that help people cope with life’s challenges.
Ease of access to marijuana and cannabis products is another contributing factor to the problem. Recreational marijuana use is legal in 19 states, Guam and Washington, D.C., while others have decriminalized low-level cannabis possession offenses or passed medical marijuana laws. Additionally, a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD and Delta-8 THC, two compounds from the marijuana plant that bind to cannabinoid receptors. These products are available in some states that have yet to fully legalize the sale of marijuana.
The Risks of Marijuana and Hallucinogen Use
Many young adults’ curiosity about these drugs’ mind-altering properties leads them to experiment, which can be dangerous. Marijuana and hallucinogens can be unpredictable due to variations in their active compounds. While some users have a relaxing or mentally stimulating experience, these substances can also cause undesirable side effects like mood swings, increased blood pressure, disturbed sleep, panic, paranoia and psychosis symptoms.
There is also a risk of physical and psychological dependence when using any psychoactive substance for a prolonged period. Once this occurs, it will become increasingly harder to stop using cannabis and hallucinogens, no matter how much you want to.
Customized Mental Health Care and Addiction Treatment
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At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.