Use of Marijuana and Psychedelics Is Soaring Among Young Adults, Study Finds


Use of Marijuana and Psychedelics Is Soaring Among Young Adults, The annual U.S. survey of substance use captures the growing mainstream acceptance of cannabis and hallucinogenic compounds.

Use of Marijuana and Psychedelics Is Soaring Among Young Adults, Marijuana and hallucinogen use among young adults reached an all-time record last year after having leveled off during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal survey data. The findings, part of the government’s annual survey of drug use among young Americans, also found that nicotine vaping and excessive alcohol consumption continued to climb in 2021 after a brief pause. Another worrying trend among young people, ages 19 to 30: mounting consumption of alcoholic beverages suffused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. But there were some bright spots in the survey. Cigarette smoking and opioid abuse among young adults dropped last year, a continuing trend that has heartened public health experts. Taken in its entirety, the report provides a mixed picture of substance use in the United States that experts say reflects a number of disparate trends affecting young Americans: the devastating mental health effects of the pandemic; the increased availability of legal marijuana; and the emerging therapeutic embrace of psychedelics to treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems. “Overall, the results are very concerning,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which publishes the annual Monitoring the Future survey. “What they tell us is that the problem of substance abuse among young people has gotten worse in this country, and that the pandemic, with all its mental stressors and turmoil, has likely contributed to the rise.”

Use of Marijuana , The online survey of people ages 19 to 60 was conducted from April to October 2021. Substance use research experts said the mounting use of marijuana in young adults was especially notable. The survey found that 43 percent in the 19-30 age group had used cannabis 20 or more times over the previous year, up from 34 percent. In 2011, that figure was 29 percent. Daily marijuana consumption also jumped significantly, to 11 percent from 6 percent in 2011. Increases in use also occurred among people ages 35 to 50, according to the survey. Not surprisingly, the surge in marijuana use has been occurring in tandem with a rise in the number of states that have legalized recreational use — 19 in the past decade. (Another 13 states allow the medical use of cannabis.) Experts say the normalization of marijuana has helped persuade many young people that it is harmless. A similar dynamic, experts say, is also at play with psychedelics. The use of hallucinogens had been stable for decades, but in 2021, 8 percent of young adults reported using psychedelics compared with 3 percent in 2011, a record high since the category was first surveyed in 1988.

Over the past few years, researchers say, increasing media coverage and social media chatter about the potential therapeutic value of ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms and ecstasy have helped chip away at long-held taboos that were fostered during the nation’s failed war on drugs. “It’s about availability, but also about peer acceptability,” said Dr. Kevin M. Gray, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. “Generally speaking, young people don’t see these substances as dangerous, but the consequences of using them are still there.” Although the risks associated with psychedelics tend to be short-lived — overdoses are rare and most compounds are not addictive — experts stress the importance of using them with professional guidance. Some states have decriminalized psilocybin, but it and other popular psychedelics remain prohibited under federal law, though the Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant approvals for some therapeutic uses in the coming years. With marijuana use, the dangers include the risks of impaired driving, the potential for addiction and the effects on mental health such as heightened anxiety, depression and temporary psychosis.

Source: This news is originally published by nytimes



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