Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Nations

The latest Monitoring the Future results for 2015 are in.  Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12, alcohol and tobacco use have both fallen to record lows, and the use of most other substances has either declined or shown no significant change from last year.  Cannabis has held steady as well after falling a bit last year.  "Binge" drinking (5+ drinks per occasion) has also fallen to a record low, and as we noted last year, extreme binge drinking (10+ drinks per occasion) has also been falling for several years now.

Meanwhile, things aren't quite so rosy for the American population in general.  While drunk driving deaths specifically are at a record low, alcohol-related deaths (excluding crashes, accidents, and homicides) have actually reached a 35-year high in 2014.  This increase in the death rate, which began around 2000, is likely due to two things:  the aging of the population, and a general increase in per-capita alcohol consumption since the late 1990s.  Drug overdose deaths have also doubled since 1999 as well, driven mostly by heroin and prescription opioids.

In other words, America's overall drinking (and drug) problem appears to be getting worse, but it is clearly NOT being driven primarily by young people.  Those Baby Boomers (and now Generation Xers) who complain about the problems of "kids today" might just want to look in the mirror before pointing the finger at Millennials (and now post-Millennials).  So can we finally stop with the "vicarious puritanism" already?

1 comment:

  1. I commented about the Monitoring the Future study in the Washington Post. Baby Boomers and people in Generation X are the reason why alcohol related deaths have increased. They are also the reason for the increase in drug overdose deaths. The Millennial generation and Generation Z, I am near Generation Z, are the best generation when it comes to alcoholic beverages and drugs. The drinking age should be lowered to 18 and Cannabis should be legalized with a minimum age of 18. The U.S. needs to stop its culture of blaming young people for older people's problems. Mike Males has studied this phenomenon most extensively.