Substance Use Decreased Among Teens Between 2019 and 2020: Study

    A new study finds substance use among teens decreased between 2019 and 2020, including marijuana, tobacco and misused prescription drugs, CNN reports.

    Use of marijuana in teens ages 16 and 17 decreased 7.3% in 2020 compared with the previous two years, while tobacco use dropped more than 10%. Misuse of prescription drugs decreased almost 3%, and binge drinking decreased 1.6%.

    Among young adults age 21 to 24, use of alcohol increased from 60% to 65% compared to the previous two years, while binge drinking decreased slightly. Marijuana use increased among adults 25 and older.

    The findings come from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, which follows substance use among 49,000 U.S. youth and young adults.

    In October 2020, Linda Richter, Ph.D., Vice President, Prevention Research and Analysis at Partnership to End Addiction, wrote a commentary in the Journal of Adolescent Health noting that the full effects of the pandemic on youth substance use might not be all negative.

    “Young people spending more time at home and away from peers typically means having higher levels of parental supervision, fewer opportunities for impulsive behavior, and less access to nicotine, alcohol, and drugs,” Richter wrote. “It is reasonable to assume that for some adolescents—especially younger ones—the initiation of substance use that may have occurred under normal circumstances has been delayed during these months of social distancing. Such delays would be expected to reduce the odds of future addiction among these youth.”