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Decrease in perceived risk spikes increase in marijuana use among college students: Study

12-14 | By CSAA Team

Decrease in perceived risk spikes increase in marijuana use among college students: Study

Marijuana, also known as weed or pot, is one of the commonly abused illicit drugs across the globe. Though it is being legalized in several states across the United States (U.S.) due to the decrease in the perceived risk of marijuana use, its ill-effects are highly dangerous and risky. Therefore, it is advisable to refrain from using this drug or any other addictive substance.

Despite issuing numerous warnings to people abusing drugs, the practice is growing at a fast pace among college students. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 52.70 percent of individuals between 18 and 25 years of age used marijuana for their entire life.

A new study that has been conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research reveals that the use of marijuana continues to increase among the American college students, compared to other drugs, including amphetamines, and opioids.

College students find nothing wrong in consuming marijuana

The university surveyed between 1,000 and 1,500 college students for its annual Monitoring the Future study which revealed that 30 percent of college students used marijuana in 2006, which rose to 38 percent by 2015.

Though the proportion of college students consuming pot on a daily or near-daily basis decreased from six percent in 2014 to five percent in 2016, one in every 22 college students surveyed confirmed using cannabis at least 20 times a month. About two-third of the college students also mentioned that they don’t find anything wrong in taking marijuana once in a while.

According to Professor John Schulenberg, co-lead researcher of the study, the increase in marijuana use due to a decrease in the perceived risk should be taken seriously by the college administrators, parents and students. He also highlighted the fact that frequent marijuana use can adversely affect a student’s academic performance and chances of finishing college.

Important to raise awareness about marijuana use-effects among students

Interestingly, it seems college students are now paying heed to the warnings related to the dangers of using narcotic drugs. This can be corroborated by the fact that there has been a remarkable decline in the use of other drugs among college students. Additionally, the use of a prescription opioid for non-medicinal use fell from nearly nine percent in 2006 to around three percent in 2015. 

A number of other eye-opening findings of the study underlined an exceptional decrease in the use of other drugs, drinking and smoking. It is noteworthy that the use of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy and “Molly”) fell to about four percent in 2015. Additionally, any cigarette use declined from 31 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2015. In a similar vein, daily smoking decreased from 19 percent in 1999 to 4 percent in 2015, which is a record low since 1980.

In the light of the above changes, there is an urgent need to educate college students on the damaging effects of marijuana to encourage them to avoid and be wary of it. Since marijuana is not considered as dangerous as narcotic drugs, the use of cannabis among college students has been steadily rising. In order to reverse this trend, the entire idea of legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana needs a thorough brainstorming.

Recovery roadmap

Abusing marijuana is dangerous, but it is less risky than alcohol. Moreover, using it for medicinal purposes is a great idea as it can have several beneficial effects. However, it should be ensured that one does not develop a dependence on, or addiction to, marijuana and other addictive substances.

If you know someone who is addicted to any form of drug, it is recommended to contact the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors for help. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online with our experts for information about the best substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado.


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