A federal survey divulged the alarming rate at which college students consume marijuana products through different delivery methods, the most prominent being smoking.
Students in various colleges in the U.S have always smoked weed, however, the numbers recorded through the pandemic and this year places the consumption rate of cannabis in colleges and universities at an all-time high.
According to the survey which was released on Wednesday, the newly introduced legislation and COVID-19 related lockdown orders spurred U.S college and university students to inculcate the habit of smoking marijuana.
The federal government’s agency for collating information on substance use is known as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
The agency carries out a survey each year termed ‘Monitoring the Future. The first of its kind was conducted in 1989 and it has been centered on college students and young adults between the ages 19 and 22. The survey is conducted at the Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan located in Ann Arbor.
The agency polled 1, 550 college students and from the results of the poll, it was revealed that 44 percent of these students used marijuana in 2020. This figure was as low as 37 percent in 2015.
The agency also polled college-age young adults that have not been admitted to colleges, where it observed that the same percentage of young adults used cannabis in 2020 and 2019. Makes one wonder why college-based young adults are smoking more than their counterparts who are not in school.
Reason for the high statistics
There are several reasons why college students choose to smoke cannabis in their different schools across the country.
Some of these reasons are good, and some are bad.
The government has officially blamed the lockdown and newly introduced cannabis policies in different states for the increasing number of weed smokers in colleges.
However, while these reasons may constitute a percentage of the reasons, here are some other possible reasons which also play a role in why college students are smoking their cannabis.
A person’s college years are a vulnerable period of transition.Young adults, especially fresh college students, are always pressured to do things they wouldn’t normally do just to belong in a new space.
As fresh or naive students wanting to form new friendships and social networks, it is easy to get carried away just to fit the personal identity they think would suit them.
Nowadays the pressure does not come directly from friends and peers, but rather from the normalization of substance use within a social group. This is not limited to social groups joined in school, it could also be from home. When a college-based adult comes from a family where older members smoke pot, there is a high chance that students have been moved to lighting up a stick of their own.
An article listed ‘pop culture’ as a source of peer pressure. Portraying main and supporting characters as habitual users of cannabis contributes to the normalization of marijuana in schools.
Quite a number of these students believe that marijuana is harmless and has no long-term detrimental effect unlike tobacco and other prohibited substances. Marijuana has its pros and cons. The most severe disadvantage being that it could develop into a substance abuse disorder. With the rate at which students are using these drugs, the country may have an addiction epidemic among young adults in a few years.
Some college students suffer from mental health conditions such as anxiety and mood disorders like stress, depression trouble concentration, insomnia, etc. Reports state that these students self-treat their conditions by using cannabis. This way they get relief.
Studies show that these young adults risk being diagnosed with more serious mental conditions as they age. Other effective treatments can be tried for mental health issues in college students.
These young people use cannabis to feel good after a tiring class or a boring day. They also use the drug to get deeper insights into a situation or to escape from their current problems or frustrations.
College Students may not stop smoking any time soon
In 2020, tallies were used to monitor the daily use of cannabis. From the data gotten, it was observed that the trend of using cannabis by college students is on the rise.
8 percent of the surveyed students said that they consumed cannabis daily in 2020, this is an increase to the 4% of surveyed college students who said the same in 2015.
A survey was also organized for young adults, not in schools, the recent data obtained from this survey is identical to the one obtained over the last three years. The total percentage of individuals in the group who stated that they consumed cannabis every day or almost every day was 13 percent.
Nora Volkow, Director of the NIDA, disclosed in a statement that the pandemic caused a change in the manner of interactions between college students. She believes that college students took to smoking cannabis to try and improve the way they now interact with each other. She also noted that more states joined the recreation legislation bandwagon, 17 states now permit the sales of adult-use cannabis, and more states are joining.
Volkow refused to state if the current trends will still be observed even after the pandemic. She only mentioned that NIDA will be investigating the circumstances surrounding the high usage of cannabis among college students. According to her, this investigation is very critical and it would determine the impact of this trend over time.
More Smoking, Leas Vaping
In 2020, a lot of college students stopped cannabis vaping and took up smoking.
During the data collection, only 12 percent of college students said they vaped cannabis in the last 30 days while 14 percent of young adults not in school claim they have vaped cannabis at the same time.
For effective interventions to be carried out to control the excessive use of cannabis in colleges, NIDA has to figure out the motivation of this trend. The ages of the students correspond with the prime period where life-long habits are formed.
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