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Use of Marijuana on the Rise Among Gen-Z Even as Alcohol Seems to be Taking a Backseat, Finds Study

A marijuana user smokes inside a protest cannabis garden next to Mexico's Senate building. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

A marijuana user smokes inside a protest cannabis garden next to Mexico's Senate building. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

Use of cannabis has increased where Gen-Z’s demand for beer and whiskey have decreased. Despite this, researchers think the result is promising as misuse is reported less.

The earliest evidence of alcohol consumption suggests it’s nearly as old human civilization. China and Early Egyptians brewed their meads as far as 7,000 BC whereas India had their own rice wine in 3,000 BC.

Now, no one can claim that alcohol consumption can ever go away, but for the first time, it seems to be becoming less popular in younger populations.

A group of researchers in the United States took nearly sixteen years to come to this conclusion. They studied how much booze was consumed, on average, by 18 to 22-year-olds in the country. The survey was taken twice; first in 2002 and next in 2018. They also measured the level of abstinence among the volunteers.

Teetotalism, a practice of abstaining from alcoholic beverages, was found to become popular. The study revealed that in 2002, nearly 20% of university students were found to favour teetotalism.

Sixteen years later, in 2018, that number rose to 28%.

Whereas as for non-student people of the same age group, it rose from 24% to 30%.

According to the researchers, boomers (born between 1946 to ’64) never learned how to drink in moderation, an art mastered by Gen-Z (born late 90s to ‘00s).

They surveyed 1,82,722 people and found that alcohol abuse in this generation is half of its previous ones.

However, it doesn’t mean Gen-Z prefer to be sober. Use of cannabis has increased where Gen-Z’s demand for beer and whiskey have decreased. Despite this, researchers think the result is promising as misuse is reported less.

Alcohol use-disorder is medically confirmed abuse of alcohol. It is not same as having a few drinks casually every once in a while. “We are excited to learn about these drops in disordered drinking, as alcohol-related consequences are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for young adults,” said the lead author, Sean Esteban McCabe.

Co-author, Ty Schepis, says while this is good, an increase in both alcohol and marijuana can actually lead to more complicated health issues as abusing multiple substances is dangerous than just one.

They suggested that in the last twenty years, misusing several substances at once has increased.

“For example, from 2015 to 2018, only 2.5 per cent of young adults who abstained from both alcohol and marijuana reported misusing prescription drugs, while 25.1 per cent of co-users misused prescription drugs,” explained Dr Schepis.

He called this pattern “ten-fold” different and potentially dangerous.


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