New NIDA Resource Online Highlights Drug Use Trends Among College-Aged Adults

By John Lavitt 08/25/15

NIDA plans to provide an online resource for students to access quality information and help.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse has created a new section on its website that highlights the latest drug use trends among college-aged adults. The challenge presented is that more college students nationwide have added illicit drugs to their recreational habits. In addition to marijuana abuse, the non-medical use of stimulants, including Adderall and Ritalin, has more than doubled in the past few years. NIDA’s goal with the new resource is to provide an online access to quality information and help.

Using statistics from the most recent Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use among students enrolled full time in a two- or four-year college, as well as young people of the same age group not attending college, NIDA has designed the resource to reflect the information at hand. It also includes links of interest not just for the college-aged young adults, but also for parents, educators, dorm supervisors, counselors, clinicians, and researchers who work with this age group.

Additional resources provided by the new resource include infographics about statistics and trends, treatment guides, information about careers in addiction science as well as related videos, publications, articles and other relevant materials. The resources are needed when the spike in drug use is examined, particularly the high rate of marijuana use by college students.

"The highest rate of daily use observed among college students since 1981—a third of a century ago," said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the MTF study. "One in every 20 college students was smoking pot on a daily or near-daily basis in 2013, including one in every 11 males and one in every 34 females. To put this into a longer-term perspective, from 1990 to 1994, fewer than one in 50 college students used marijuana that frequently."

The next most frequently used illicit drugs by college students are ecstasy, hallucinogens, and narcotic drugs other than heroin. Each of these three hard drugs have about 5% of college students reporting any use in the prior 12 months. One encouraging result is that a number of illicit drugs have been used in the prior 12 months by less than 1% of college students in 2013. These drugs include inhalants, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, bath salts, GHB, and ketamine.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.