Alcohol consumption

Drug Use Under Covid Approaches All-Time High, Alcohol Use Declines for Students

“Marijuana use among young adults (aged 19 to 30) reached record levels in 2020, which was true for annual use, 30-day use and daily use,” according to the annual study Federal Government Monitoring the Future. Among young adults, 42% have used marijuana in the past year, 27% have used it in the past month, and almost 10% reported using marijuana on a daily basis throughout 2020. The The 21-26 age cohort, largely made up of university students, uses marijuana at above-average rates.

Monitoring the Future has chronicled substance use across the country for almost 50 years. The latest edition, published in September 2021, contains data collected at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, from March to November 2020. While the study is typically a hallmark of slow and constant cultural changes, the latest edition discusses the effects of ‘a global pandemic on the demand for psychotropic substances.

Indeed, the study notes a significant moderating effect on alcohol consumption among young adults. Although alcohol consumption is generally stable from year to year, researchers found an unusual drop in 2020. People were significantly less likely to drink alcohol at all, and they were even less likely to have been drunk. The number of young adults who report being drunk in the past month has fallen by five percentage points, to 31% of those polled. The researchers underline “a possible pandemic effect in terms of reduced social time”.

Drops to drink in excess

“We can clearly see that young people are consuming alcohol as something to have at parties and gatherings. With the pandemic, this was not happening, so alcohol consumption and binge drinking dropped, ”said Dr. John Schulenberg, lead researcher of the study, in an interview for The Washington Post. The impact of the pandemic on alcohol consumption is particularly marked among middle school students, he notes. “Historically, students have reported the highest levels of binge drinking compared to youth of the same age who are not enrolled in college. This is the first year that binge drinking was similar between the two groups. While binge drinking has gradually declined among college students over the past few decades, this is a new all-time low, which may reflect the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of reduced time with friends from college. “

Among students in particular, alcohol consumption increased from 62% in 2019 to 56% in 2020, while binge drinking increased from 32% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. Among students, the marijuana use in the past year was higher than for the other groups. at 44%, compared to 38% of students in 2015. In addition, 8% of students report using marijuana daily, compared to 5% five years earlier.

“The pandemic seems to have made marijuana an alternative to escape the monotony of isolation. It made life more boring, more stressful. So if drugs allow you to experience this completely different mental state, I wonder if that would be a factor that would lead people to use them, ”said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

No more marijuana use

Reduced social activities, increased isolation and pandemic anxiety have not only impacted rates of alcohol and marijuana use, although these are the most significant due to the popularity of the two drugs. Another effect has been to almost double the reported consumption of hallucinogenic substances such as LSD, MDMA and magic mushrooms among college students.

The prevalence of college students using any illicit drugs have fallen from a recent low of 34% in 2006 to 47%, mainly due to the exponential popularity and legalization of marijuana. Interestingly, this is not the highest rate recorded by the Monitoring the Future series: in 1980, 56.2% of students reported using illicit drugs, almost 10 percentage points of more than in 2020. Marijuana use reached 51%, compared to “only” 44% today. Cocaine use was also significantly higher in 1980.

Between 1980 and 1991, annual drug use declined steadily from year to year; then, it stagnated around 35% during the 1990s and early 2000s; Ultimately, it has rebounded over the past two decades. The year 2020 has catapulted substance use to levels not seen since the early 1980s, and it seems likely that the pandemic effects seen in the first year of Covid will also spill over into 2021. The study Next year’s Monitoring the Future will shed light on all the consequences that years of quarantine can have on the human psyche and the need for artificial paradises.