Photo: RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP / Getty Images
A recently published study he found that nearly half of college-age students in the United States reported using marijuana in the past year, prompting researchers to wonder if the pandemic could have spurred the record for cannabis use.
“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the way young people interact with each other and offers us the opportunity to examine whether drug use behavior has changed accordingly, ”said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the federal government.
“It has made life more boring, more stressful. So if drugs allow you to experience that completely different state of mind, I wonder if that would be a factor that leads people to use them. “
The NIDA-funded “Monitoring the Future” study has investigated drug use among college students and non-college adults ages 19-22 since 1980.
The researchers conducted the 2020 edition through an online survey, consulting approximately 1,550 young adults between March 20 and November 30, 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States.
According to the report, 44 percent of college students reported using marijuana in 2020, an increase from 38 percent in 2015. There was also an increase in “daily or almost daily” marijuana use, which increased from 5 percent. to 8 percent in five years.
At the same time, reported alcohol consumption among college students decreased from 62 to 56 percent, And the number of them who claimed to have been intoxicated by alcohol in the past month decreased to 28 percent from 35 percent between 2019 and 2020.
Binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks on an outing at least once in two weeks, fell from 32 percent to 24 percent.
Another trend that emerged from the survey was a four percentage point increase in college students using psychedelic drugs, with hallucinogen use increasing from 5 to 9 percent in 2020.
Although the study does not address the causes behind these trends, scientists speculate that the cost of the pandemic to daily life and mental health may be one of the driving forces behind consumption patterns.
The historical drop in alcohol intake, for example, coincides with a time marked by isolation, quarantine and a stagnation of social events.
“That’s definitely one of the biggest effects of the pandemic,” said John Schulenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who served as the study’s principal investigator. “While binge drinking has gradually decreased among college students over the past decades, this is a new all-time low, which may reflect the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of reducing time with college friends.”
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