We are experiencing one of the most volatile substance misuse prevention climates in living memory. The global coronavirus pandemic and its related issues continue to challenge prevention professionals to adjust and innovate as they address the misuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and other substances in new and creative ways.
According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), instances of any alcohol use by individuals under age 21 have decreased since 2002, with drinking by 12- to 20-year-olds declining from 29 percent to 19 percent between 2002 and 2019. Much of that progress can be attributed to the effectiveness of community-based prevention strategies. However, recent data shows increases in substance use that appear to be linked with pandemic-related stress. Among adults ages 18 and older, 13 percent reported that they started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, and 1 in 4 respondents ages 18 to 24 reported increasing substance use in the past 30 days to cope.