For generations, probably since forever, the drug of choice of college students has been booze: jugs of wine and “wine product,” cases of Natty Light, deuces of Steel Reserve, 40s of Old E, plastic bottles of vodka, and White Claw. But now, things are changing. This younger generation are mavericks! They don’t want to live like their parents—to show their rebellion, they are refusing to drink! Has Nancy Reagan’s dream come true? Have the youth of America finally learned to just say no?
A new study published yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics shows that between 2002 and 2018, the rate of abstinence among college students age 18-22 increased from 20% to 28%. For 18-22-year-olds who are not in college, the abstinence rate increased from 24% to 30%. (This is based on a survey of 182,722 young people.)
More of the kids are using weed, the study discovered (27% to 31% among students, 26% to 30% among non-students), but they’re using it responsibly, or at least they’re less likely to abuse it. It is a prescription drug, after all.
What is happening here? Is the new generation suddenly immune to the temptations of drugs and alcohol? The study didn’t look into the reasons why more young people are abstaining, though some of the researchers speculated that maybe it was because they were living with their parents.
The study also found that the kids who use have started mixing their drugs, and that’s an even bigger problem.
“Points of concern that deserve more attention are the rise in co-use of alcohol and marijuana, as we know that polysubstance use can have more negative consequences and be more difficult to treat,” Ty Schepis, a professor of psychology at Texas State University and a co-author of the study, told CNN. “For example, from 2015 to 2018, only 2.5% of young adults who abstained from both alcohol and marijuana reported misusing prescription drugs, while 25.1% of co-users misused prescription drugs. That is a tenfold difference with potentially dangerous consequences.”
Well there you go. Something new to worry about.