Researchers at the University of Illinois recently conducted a study regarding the number of young adults who smoke marijuana and discovered something that most haven’t thought of before. They found that the percentage of people who smoke marijuana regularly drops noticeably after they turn 21. The reason is because alcohol is now legal for them to drink. The frequency of marijuana use for men decreased 7.5 percent after turning 21, while it was 15 percent for women, as they appeared to have a greater tendency to shift to alcohol.
With data supplied by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the results of the study appear in the Journal of Health Economics. What is apparent is that the young people who are looking for a chemically-induced high doesn’t actually change, only the substance. The findings bring about a potential social dilemma: which is worse, marijuana or alcohol?
As lead researcher Ben Crost stated, “If you think alcohol is much more harmful to people’s health, then you should probably restrict alcohol use. If you think marijuana is more harmful, then you might want to consider loosening the restrictions for alcohol.”
In either case, chronic substance abuse is bad for the individual as well as society. So rather than choosing an “either, or” scenario, treatment professionals advocate having better prevention strategies in place to help lower the overall number of substance abusers. Specialized intervention programs targeting older teenagers and their transition into young adults can help reduce the number of people getting drug or high.