The latest results of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) longitudinal survey show that American adults are consuming marijuana and hallucinogens, vaping, and binge drinking at historic levels.
“In 2022, we are seeing that marijuana and hallucinogen use, and vaping of nicotine and marijuana, are higher than ever among young adults ages 19-30,” said Megan Patrick, research professor and principal investigator of the MTF study. “In addition, midlife adults ages 35-50 have the highest level of binge drinking we have ever seen in that age group,” she said in a statement.
The survey, conducted annually since 1975 by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, queries nationally representative samples of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders and then follows a subset through adulthood to come up with longitudinal data. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The adult data for 2022 were gathered by online and paper surveys from April to October 2022 and included responses from some 10,000 individuals. Participants were divided into two cohorts: those aged 19-30 years and those aged 35-50 years.
About a third of the older age group reported using marijuana in the past year, an all-time high, up from 25% in 2021 and more than double the users in 2012 (13%). Of this group, 4% reported past-year hallucinogen use, also a record high and double the reported use in 2021.
Alcohol use among adults aged 35-50 has gradually increased over the past decade. Of this group, 85% reported past-year drinking in 2022, up from 83% in 2012.
Binge drinking – defined as having five or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks – has also been on the rise in the past decade. One-third of older adults reported binge drinking in 2022. Binge drinking was highest among White (31.4%) and Hispanic (30.6%) midlife adults and was lower among Black (17.1%) midlife adults.
Vaping among the older age cohort has remained at similar levels since first measured in 2019; 9% vaped marijuana in the past year, while 7% vaped nicotine.
Marijuana popular among younger Americans
“In 2022, marijuana use among young adults reached the highest levels ever recorded since the indices were first available in 1988,” the study authors write. Both past-year and daily use hit record levels for the cohort of those aged 19-30.
Forty-four percent reported past-year marijuana use, up from 28% in 2012. The highest levels of use were in those aged 27-28. One in five reported daily use, up from 6% a decade ago; almost 14% of 23- to 24-year-olds reported daily use.
Past-year use of hallucinogens – including LSD, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, mushrooms or psilocybin, and PCP – was reported by 8% of this age group. Most of the increase was driven by use of hallucinogens other than LSD, which accounted for 7% of the reported use.
Young adults also reported record levels of vaping marijuana, with 21% reporting past-year use and 14% reporting past-month use. Vaping of nicotine has doubled in prevalence since the survey started asking about it, from 14% for past-year use in 2017 to 24% in 2022.
NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD, noted in a statement that the survey results show that “substance use is not limited to teens and young adults,” adding that “these data help us understand how people use drugs across the lifespan.”