GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan confirms marijuana use has risen significantly among young adults over the last decade, along with the use of hallucinogens. But some young adults are walking away from one popular drug: alcohol.
The survey is part of the “Monitoring the Future” study by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is a department of the National Institutes of Health.
The study designated young adults as people between the ages of 19 and 30 years old. Survey data shows both marijuana and hallucinogen use have increased significantly over the last five years, the highest levels seen since 1988.
The survey, which ran from April 2021 through October of that year, found that 29% of young adults reported using marijuana in the past month. That figure is up from 21% in 2016 and 17% in 2011.
Daily marijuana use is also up, with 11% of young adults saying they use the drug every day; an increase from 8% in 2016 and 6% in 2011.
Marijuana decriminalization reformers have had a lot of success over the past decade. Voters in Colorado were the first to approve recreational cannabis, passing a ballot initiative in 2012. Since then, 18 other states — including Michigan — have passed similar measures, and organizations in several other states are working to get legalization measures passed.
Researchers also noticed a rise in hallucinogen use among young adults. In 2021, 8% of young adults reported using a hallucinogen within the past month. The survey showed only 5% in 2016 and 3% in 2011. Participants commonly used LSD, peyote and psilocybin — commonly known as “magic mushrooms.”
One hallucinogen that has dropped in popularity: MDMA — also known as ecstasy or molly. The survey reports only 3% of young adults used MDMA in 2021, compared to 5% in 2016 and 2020.
Alcohol use — while still the most common drug used by young adults — has dropped over the last year. Data shows only 66% of young adults reported drinking alcohol in the past month, compared to 70% in 2016.
Binge drinking, however, has rebounded after lower numbers posted in 2020. Now, 32% of young adults reported having five or more drinks in one night in the past two weeks. That’s the same figure reported in 2019. The binge drinking rate had dropped to 28% in 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers said it is important to track drug trends to better understand communities and use that information to shape public policy and where to invest in public health resources.
“One of the best ways we can learn more about drug use and its impact on people is to observe which drugs are appearing, in which populations, for how long and under which contexts,” Megan Patrick, a principal investigator of the MTF panel study, said in a University of Michigan blog post. “Monitoring the Future and similar large-scale surveys on a consistent sample population allow us to assess the effects of ‘natural experiments’ like the pandemic. We can examine how and why drugs are used and highlight critical areas to guide where the research should go next and to inform public health interventions.”