Study: Young adults’ use of weed, hallucinogens hit all-time high in 2021


Psylocibin mushrooms growing in magic mushroom breads on an isolated plastic environment being collected by expert hands wearing white latex medical gloves. Fungi hallucinogen drugs production concept

(NewsNation) — The use of marijuana and hallucinogens by young adults in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2021 as the pandemic kept millions in their homes and more Americans reported an increase in overall substance use.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) study said use of the two substances by young adults 19 to 30 years old climbed significantly compared to five and 10 years ago. 

Daily marijuana use — 20 or more occasions in the past 30 days — reached the highest levels recorded since the NIH began monitoring these trends in 1988. Use of marijuana in the past year reached 43% — an increase from 34% five years ago.

In 2021, 8% of young adults reported past-year hallucinogen use compared to 5% in 2016. Types of hallucinogens reported included LSD, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, mushrooms or psilocybin, and PCP. The only one that significantly decreased in use was MDMA (ecstasy or Molly).

“As the drug landscape shifts over time, this data provides a window into the substances and patterns of use favored by young adults. We need to know more about how young adults are using drugs like marijuana and hallucinogens, and the health effects that result from consuming different potencies and forms of these substances,” said National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, M.D. “Young adults are in a critical life stage and honing their ability to make informed choices. Understanding how substance use can impact the formative choices in young adulthood is critical to help position the new generations for success.”

Alcohol, according to the study, remains the most-used substance among adults. Binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks, rebounded in 2021 from a historic low in 2020. However, past-year, past-month and daily drinking have been decreasing over the past decade.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on substance and mental health treatment programs in your area, call the free and confidential National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit

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