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Rise in Use of Psychoactive Substances Among US Adults



Introduction

The use of cannabis and psychedelic drugs among adults in the US has reached a record high. This increase in consumption has been observed over the past decade and can be attributed to various factors, including changing attitudes towards these substances, increased accessibility, and concerns over the healthcare system.


The Study

The University of Michigan, led by Megan Patrick and her colleagues, conducted a study on substance use among US adults. The data was collected as part of the Monitoring the Future study, which has been tracking substance use since 1975. The study included approximately 28,500 adults who joined during their last year of secondary school.


Cannabis Use

The study findings revealed that almost 44% of young adults between 19 and 30 years old, and nearly 28% of midlife adults ages 35 to 50, reported using marijuana in the past 12 months – the highest levels ever recorded for both age groups.

Furthermore, the study found that daily marijuana use also reached record levels in 2022. More than 11% of young adults and over 6% of midlife adults reported using cannabis on at least 20 of the last 30 days, which is double the rates seen in 2012.


Psychedelic Drug Use

The use of psychedelic drugs has also increased. In 2022, about 8% of young adults and 4% of midlife adults reported using hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD or MDMA in the past 12 months – more than double the rates from 2012.

This rise in psychedelic drug use can be attributed to factors such as the legalization of these drugs, increasing accessibility, and changing societal views. The legalization of medical marijuana in 38 states and recreational use in 23 states, along with the decriminalization of psilocybin in certain cities, has made these substances more accessible and socially acceptable.


Reasons for Increased Use

One of the reasons for the increased use of cannabis and psychedelics is the belief among users that these substances can be used effectively for medical purposes. Although the US Food and Drug Administration has only approved a few cannabis-related compounds for specific conditions, there is a widespread belief that it can treat a variety of other ailments. Additionally, the affordability of cannabis compared to healthcare costs may also contribute to its increased use.

Furthermore, the growing interest in psychedelic drugs can be attributed to their potential therapeutic benefits in treating mental health conditions such as depression and substance use disorders. This, coupled with the prevalence of mental health issues in the US, has led to individuals using psychedelics as a form of self-medication.


Conclusion

While the rise in cannabis and psychedelic drug use among US adults may reflect shifting attitudes, increased accessibility, and alternative treatment options, it is important to acknowledge the potential risks associated with these substances. Without proper screening and guidance, the use of these drugs can pose significant risks to individuals’ physical and mental health.

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