The 2019 survey results from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study showed that vaping marijuana and nicotine rose sharply in the past 3 years among college age students, or students between 19 and 22 years of age, according to a press release.

The percentage of college students who said they vaped marijuana in the past 30 days grew from 5.2% in 2017 to 14% in 2019. Additionally, the corresponding percentages for their non-college-attending peers increased from 7.8% in 2017 to 17% in 2019.

MTF is an ongoing study of the trends in substance use by adolescents and adults in the United States, with the survey conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

The study showed that the percentage of college-age adults between 19 and 22 years of age who vaped nicotine also rose dramatically between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, 6.1% of college students and 7.9% of those not in college said they vaped nicotine in the past month, increasing to 22% and 18% in 2019, respectively. These increases in vaping marijuana and nicotine are among the largest seen for any substance use reported by the study in its 45-year history, according to the study authors.

“We are seeing an increasingly concerning trend,” said Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIDA in a press release. “Many young people may view vaping and cannabis use as ‘safer’, but the reality is that nicotine is highly addictive, and cannabis can also be addictive, particularly in younger adults for whom the brain is still developing.”
The results are based on data from college students 1 to 4 years beyond high school graduation who are enrolled full-time in a 2- or 4-year college in March of the given year, compared with same-age high school graduates not enrolled full-time in college.

The 2019 data also revealed a continuing high prevalence of marijuana use among young adults, who are 19 to 22 years of age. In 2018, 43% of this group reported using marijuana in the past year, with this percentage being unchanged in 2019. The prevalence of daily or near-daily use of marijuana (15%) was significant among those not attending college in 2019. This is compared to 5.9% of college students who reported daily or near-daily use of marijuana.

Other highlights in the survey results include the downward trend of cigarette smoking in college students, with only 7.6% of respondents reporting having smoked in the past month. Further, binge drinking has been declining gradually over the past few decades, showing no significant changes for young adults attending or not attending college. Prescription opioid misuse and amphetamine use are also shown to be on a continued decline for college students, according to the study authors.

Vaping, marijuana use in 2019 rose in college-age adults. NIH. Published September 15, 2020. Accessed September 16, 2020.


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