A new national study has found that teenagers' use of alcohol has declined significantly over the last 20 years. But a second study has found that their grandparents are getting wasted at a much higher rate.
University of Michigan researchers say they are concerned that more teens are using marijuana, but young people are not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes nearly as much as in years past. Aside from marijuana, illicit drug use is also on the decline.
"That's still a lot of young people using these dangerous drugs without medical supervision, but the trending is in the right direction," said Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator. "Fewer are risking overdosing as teenagers, and hopefully more will remain abstainers as they pass into their twenties, thereby reducing the number who become casualties in those high-risk years."
Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are not only smoking more weed, as we reported last week, but are consuming more alcohol. Researchers examined self-reported past-month binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorder in adults over 50. They said they found “significant increases” in past-year alcohol use, past-month alcohol use, past-month binge drinking, and alcohol use disorders.
Boomers on a bender
In a demographic breakdown, the study found that men were more likely to binge drink and suffer from alcohol use disorders than women. However, researchers were concerned that binge drinking and alcohol use disorder was also up among women.
“As females age, they tend to experience a larger impact of physiological changes in lean body mass compared to men,” said Dr. Benjamin, a geriatrician and health services researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research “Thus, they may experience the adverse effects associated with consuming alcohol even in lower amounts.”
The researchers were particularly alarmed by the increase in binge drinking among older women. Not only can it lead to serious health problems, they say it “can also lead to socially embarrassing or regretful behavior.”
While the liquor cabinet will need closer monitoring while the grandparents are home alone, the grandchildren are more likely to behave themselves. In the Michigan study, fewer teens reported using any illegal drug other than marijuana in the prior 12 months than at any time since 1991.
While the rate shows a drop of about one percentage point in each grade in 2016, they reflect a much larger decline over the longer term.