Teens’ Perceived Availability of Pot, Alcohol, Vaping Devices Down During Pandemic

Teens’ perceived availability of marijuana, alcohol, and vaping devices declined at historic rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the September issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Richard Miech, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues assessed how adolescent substance use and perceived availability of substances changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The analysis included 582 12th-grade participants of the Monitoring the Future project who were surveyed in early 2020 before COVID-19 restrictions and in the summer of 2020.

The researchers found that perceived availability of marijuana and alcohol declined across the two survey waves at the largest levels ever recorded in the 46 years of the project (marijuana: −17 percent; alcohol: −24 percent).

However, despite the changes in perception, prevalence levels did not significantly change for marijuana use in the previous 30 days or for binge drinking in the previous two weeks.

Both perceived availability of vaping devices and nicotine vaping prevalence in the previous 30 days significantly declined (from 73 to 63 percent for device availability and from 24 to 17 percent for vaping prevalence).

“Lack of accompanying reductions in prevalence for marijuana and binge drinking demonstrates the substantial challenges facing a supply-side approach to the reduction of adolescent use of these substances,” the authors write.