Young adults, both Millenials and Gen Z, are using more psychedelic drugs than ever – or at least the most since 1975, first started keeping track in 1975. While both generations seemed to experiment less with substances in their teens, a survey taken in 2021 found that adults aged 19 to 30 were highly likely to have abused marijuana or hallucinogens such as Molly or magic mushrooms in the past year.
Pandemic Increased Drug Use Across The Board
Substance use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and 2021 was not an exception. While more people have ventured out into the world in the past year, it’s also been a messy time for politics, climate change, and other uncertainties. Isolation and financial uncertainty have also been a factor alongside skyrocketing inflation. Substance use often goes up during times like these.
Even nicotine vaping increased, with its use tripling in 2021 after a steep decline.
Marijuana and Hallucinogens Became More Common
In 2021, people not only reported using marijuana but also admitted to using often, with one in ten users admitting to using marijuana daily. Two out of five young people, or about 40%, admitted to using marijuana over the past year.
Marijuana is increasingly legal and available across the United States, with many people taking up the substance in the past few years. While marijuana is more common than ever, we also know less about the consequences of its use. Today’s marijuana is so potent that it’s unclear the long-term effects of using it. In the 1990s, THC was only about 25% as strong as it is today.
Hallucinogens such as LSD, PCP, and magic mushrooms also increased. While none of these are legal, magic mushrooms have been decriminalized in Washington state and Washington DC. This has created a small market for things such as chocolate bars and other foods that apparently can mask the taste of the bitter mushrooms.
About 8% of young adults admitted to using hallucinogens in the past year.
Alcohol And Other Drugs
Alcohol use also skyrocketed in 2021, with more than one in eight young adults admitting that they drank ten or more drinks in a row in the past year. Alcohol abuse can cause blackouts, liver damage, and alcohol poisoning.
“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 research professor at the University of Michigan and principal investigator of the study who spoke to CNN. The research can help researchers spot new trends and find new ways to combat drug and alcohol use, including harm reduction and Medication-Assisted Treatment.