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Are Millennials Using More Drugs and Alcohol?

What do we actually know, and does it actually matter?

Are Millennials Using More Drugs and Alcohol?By most accounts, the millennial generation includes everyone who was born between the early 1980's and the late 1990's. If you're in your late teens, 20's, or early 30's, you're a millennial. What does that mean as it relates to substance use? And does it make you more or less likely to use drugs and alcohol?

What Do We Know About Millennials?

Every year, more millennials enter the workforce so they're a prized demographic among marketers who want to understand and cater to their specific desires. And for the past two decades, millennials have made up the majority of high school and college students, a population that's notorious for partying and perpetuating (or starting) trends.

As consumers, your choices have influenced everything from parenting tactics and political movements to the financial and critical success of products and performers. What you choose to buy, use, and enjoy is of interest and value to many people so a great deal of time and study are devoted to your preferences, interests, and goals.

Do Millennials Use More Recreational Drugs?

Young people have always been associated with higher rates of experimentation with illegal drugs. However, this connection might be an outdated one. Because millennials were the first to grow up with the Internet and use social media, their lives have been documented in pictures and posts, and their fleeting adolescent habits and hobbies are under a spotlight that never existed before.

As a result of this saturation of information, the media latches onto millennial drug use. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), millennials actually use fewer drugs and less alcohol than their parents' peers did. Tempting though it may be to point fingers, teenage drug use declined by more than 34% between 1993 and 2013, a crucial time period that encompasses the teenage years of almost all millennials.

What About Marijuana?

One exception to this gradual decrease is marijuana. As states continue to loosen their laws to allow medicinal and/or recreational use, general attitudes about the drug have shifted, and access to high-quality and more potent marijuana has increased. While cocaine, heroin, and other illicit drug use has declined sharply in popularity among teens, marijuana use has slowly but steadily increased.

The cannabis plant presents far fewer health hazards than alcohol and nicotine, which are both legal and regulated drugs in every state, but previous generations were fed misinformation about marijuana's effects and risks. It makes sense that well-informed millennials would use it more frequently and casually than other generations.

Do Millennials Drink More Alcohol?

By all accounts, alcohol use is also less common for millennials. According to the same NIDA report, teen drinking has decreased by 42% since 2003 alone, and by more than 60% since 1995. Now that most millennials are in their 20's or 30's, this demographic is also leaning away from hard liquor, preferring craft beer and wine. In fact, millennials drink twice as much wine as their parents did at the same age.

No matter what generation you belong to, you get to decide whether to use drugs and alcohol. If you want to limit or stop your substance use, you can make that choice too. If you'd like to learn more about stopping or moderating substances with a Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) program for you or a loved one, call one of our Guest Services Consultants at Saint Jude Retreats today.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus13.pdf, http://www.alternet.org/drugs/millennials-overwhelmingly-oppose-drug-war-and-support-legal-marijuana, http://www.millennialmarketing.com/2009/12/millennials-are-they-healthier-than-earlier-generations/, http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/generation-y/,

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