College students are smoking more weed and taking less dangerous opioids, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.
Between 2006 and 2015, the number of college students consuming marijuana rose 8 percent, from 30 percent to 38 percent. However, the number of students using prescription opioids declined, going from 8.7 percent in 2003 to 3.3 percent in 2015.
“It appears that college students, at least, are hearing and heeding the warnings about the very considerable dangers of using narcotic drugs,” said Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator.
“It appears that the increase in non-medical use of prescription stimulant drugs may have passed its peak,” Johnston said, “though about one in ten college students still report using them in the prior 12 months.”
College students are also smoking cigarettes less than they used to. Around the year 2000, almost half of college student surveyed claimed they regularly smoked cigarettes, now only just over 20 percent still smoke regularly.
Synthetic marijuana products, which can be very dangerous, like K2 and Spice are also being used less by college students. Between 2011 and 2015, synthetic marijuana use went from 8.5 percent of college students using it to 1.5 percent.
It appears the change in marijuana use and opioid use may have to do with students simply being more educated on the dangers of different types of drugs.
“The use of the Internet has certainly increased information exchange from objective sources and other people the same age,” Johnston told NPR. “Perhaps young people today are more informed about things.”
He said that young people don’t appear to see marijuana to be as dangerous as they might have in the past, and the awareness of the dangers of using drugs like opioids has risen.
“For the most part, among both college and high school students their perception of how dangerous [cannabis] is has dropped like a rock,” Johnston told NPR.
It also may be that students who were using opioids for specific reasons, perhaps treating depression or anxiety, are now using marijuana to treat those ailments.
Now that we don’t have DARE telling people that marijuana will make your head pop off or turn you into a blood thirsty murderer, kids seem to have a slightly better understanding of the drugs they’re dealing with. One can only imagine marijuana use will continue to increase, at least a little bit.
[Photo by ashton/Wikimedia]