Despite changing attitudes towards the drug, the prevalence of cannabis use disorder has decreased over the last decade among frequent users. However, these findings do not suggests that rates of using marijuana have actually declined. Young adults who smoke marijuana are becoming more aware of how they use the substance and its potential consequences and are more likely to self-monitor their use. This change in marijuana abuse in young adults reflects generational changes in risk-taking, 

Becoming a Risk-Averse Generation

Rates of anxiety in young adults has doubled in the past decade from 10% to over 20%. As technology has granted young adults access to more information, they feel less inclined to learn from personal experiences. Young adults are taking longer to reach developmental milestones, like dating, working, and settling down, and taking more time to focus on their personal growth. With this information, they are more aware of the potential consequences of some risks and use that information to inform their decisions. While this may sound healthy and responsible, often, they tend to catastrophize and go straight to the what-ifs without ever making a clear decision.

Young people are considered the age group most likely to experiment with substances and get into trouble with the law, but today’s generation of young adults are taking fewer risks than previous generations. In addition to rising rates of depression and anxiety, social media use has led to a decline in unstructured time with friends, which has led to lower rates of risky social activities. However, social media use has also led to increased social isolation despite the illusion of connection.

Increasing Defense Mechanisms

While young adults may be choosing to make safer decisions under the influence, like taking Uber instead of getting behind the wheel, these actions help them justify their behavior. Some of these reasons may be valid, but changing attitudes towards the substance can encourage users to be in denial about the way their substance abuse has affected their relationships and productivity.

Young adults may claim “I only eat edibles” or “I don’t buy marijuana off the street” to defend their substance use. They are also more likely to overlook how substance use can actually increase feelings of depression and anxiety, especially if they are turning to substances to cope with those feelings in the first place. 

Talking to Your Child About Marijuana Abuse in Young Adults

  • Remember that you cannot control what choices they decide to make.
  • Encourage them to consider why they choose to use substances, whether it’s to socialize with peers or to cope with negative emotions.
  • Talk to them about harm reduction and other resources for monitoring their substance use.
  • Suggest healthier social activities, like hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking.

blueFire PulsaR Can Help

blueFire PulsaR offers co-ed adventure-based wilderness therapy for young adults 18-28.  Our students struggle with emotional and behavioral challenges, including anxiety, depression, motivation, trauma, and substance abuse that have affected their ability to achieve success in school and in other areas of their life. Wilderness programs push students out of their comfort zone and helps them to break the cycle of failure to launch by encouraging fun, healthy lifestyle choices. We help young adults rediscover their inner spark that fuels their motivation and confidence to pursue their interests.

For more information about substance use in young adults, contact us at 208-269-7407. 

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