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NIDA

2017 Survey Results of College-age Youth Drug and Alcohol Use

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director, Dr. Nora Volkow discusses the 2017 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey findings on substance use among college-age youth. Dr. Volkow briefly shares results on drug and alcohol use, including vaping and marijuana.

Transcript

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Dr. Nora Volkow speaking: The drugs that are most frequently abused by college students are number one alcohol and the rates of alcohol drinking are very high in college kids. Approximately 35% of them actually will be drunk in any one given month.

[TEXT: Alcohol]

When kids, they drink alcohol it is not uncommon for them to mix them with other substances and in particular in college kids what has become more of a fashion is to mix alcohol with energy drinks that have very, very high content of caffeine. So, these sort of counteracts a little bit the sedative effects but can have very adverse physiological effects and in an instance... in some instances it can actually be dangerous.

[TEXT: Stimulants]

The other drugs that they frequently abuse also are stimulant medications and they use them not just to get high but they also use them with a belief that is going to help them study for exams. So that actually leads to very frequent utilization of drugs like specifically amphetamine Adderall®. What is clear though from research is that these medications, while helpful for someone that suffers from attention deficit disorder (ADHD), do not improve cognitive performance or performance in exams in kids that don't have the disease.

[TEXT: Cigarette Smoking]

Cigarette smoking among college students actually, it's very good news because it's one of its lowest rates. On the other hand for young people of the same age that are not in college, the rates of smoking are very, very high.

[TEXT: Vaping]

We're seeing vaping in being a problem that has become very popular among all ages of young people and college kids are not immune to it. They use vaping for predominantly nicotine but also it's utilized for vaping 9-THC which is the active ingredient of marijuana.

[TEXT: Marijuana]

Another common drug abused by teenagers and college kids is marijuana and in many instances actually, it is accepted passively by the parents because they themselves may have used marijuana when they were young and they felt that it didn't have any ill effects on them. Also their experiences with marijuana overall was that it was a much more benign drug that some of the drugs that are currently available such as the opioids and indeed certainly the opiates are more dangerous but the other reality about marijuana is that the potency of the marijuana that is currently available in the market is much, much stronger than the potency of the marijuana that was available to the parent. So, in 2000 the content of the active ingredient, which actually is what makes people high, was 4% now that regular average content is at least 12% and you have varieties that go for 20-25 percent. And the higher the content of the THC, the greater its addictiveness.

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This page was last updated September 2018