College students' marijuana use hit highs in 2020 alcohol use saw
Marijuana use among U. S. college students hit a historic high in 2020, while alcohol use might have taken a pandemic-induced dip, a new study shows. College students’ marijuana consumption rose in 2020, continuing a “significant increase” over the past five years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual “Monitoring the Future” study. The recent surge has boosted college student marijuana use to its highest mark since 1983. Meanwhile, alcohol use was less common among college students than in previous years. The study showed decreases from 2019 in terms of binge drinking, getting drunk and overall alcohol use. The changes in substance use came as COVID-19 forced college students to navigate social distancing measures, online classes and an overall muted version of normal campus life. And for some students, their 2020 college experience was fully remote. The pandemic “dramatically changed” the way college students and young people interact with each other, said National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora D. Volkow, but it’s unclear whether these changes in drug use will hold.”It will be critical to investigate how and when different substances are used among this young population, and the impact of these shifts over time,” Volkow said in a news release. While the pandemic might’ve changed behavior and socializing among young people, an increase in college students’ weed use is nothing new. More than four in every 10 college students (44%) reported using marijuana in 2020, the study shows. That represents a six percentage point increase from 2015 and a whopping 14 percentage point jump from the 2006 low of 30%. And it’s not just college campuses seeing the uptick in weed consumption. Marijuana use among college-aged respondents who aren’t in school has jumped from 32% in 2007 to 43% in 2020, relatively in line with their college student counterparts. For all young adults aged 19-30, the study revealed all-time highs in marijuana use on an annual, 30-day and daily basis. The gradual rise in marijuana use comes as more states elect to legalize or decriminalize the substance. More than a dozen states permit recreational weed. While weed continued its rise, alcohol took a fall. In 2020, college students reported “significantly lower” alcohol usage across the board compared 2019 results. The share of students reporting alcohol use in the past 30 days dropped from 62% in 2019 to 56% in 2020, while 28% of respondents reported being drunk in the past 30 days, down from 35% in the year prior. College students are normally a group likely to report more frequent binge drinking, but that dropped as well: 24% percent of respondents said they consumed five or more alcoholic drinks consecutively in the past two weeks, down from the 2019 mark of 32%.
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