Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2018

The 2018 Monitoring the Future College Students and Young Adults survey shows trends in the use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine, and synthetic drugs in college students and non-college peers.


Marijuana Use

Annual Marijuana Use at Historic Highs among College and Non-College Peers*
Marijuana use is nearly the same for college students and their non-college peers at about 43%. This is approximately a 7% increase over five-years for college students. These rates for both groups are the highest in 35 years.

Daily/Near Daily Use** of Marijuana Twice as High among Non-College Group
Approximately one in nine non-college respondents reporting daily or near daily use, (11.1%) compared to about one in 17 college students (5.9%).

** Used on 20 or more occasions in the past 30 days

Past Month Nicotine Vaping Doubles Among College Students

This jump is among the greatest one-year increase seen for any substance in the history of the survey.
Between 2017 and 2018, nicotine vaping increased in college students from 6.1% to 15.5% and from 7.9% to 12.5% in non-college adults.

Rx Drug Misuse has Mixed Results

Rx Opioid Misuse: Significant Five Year Drop in Both Groups
Past year misuse of prescriptions opioids dropped from 5.4% in 2013 to 2.7% among college students and from 9.6% in 2013 to 3.2% among non-college adults.

Adderall® Misuse: Significant Gender Differences
Past year misuse rates of Adderall® were 14.6% among college men and 8.8% among college women. Rates were higher, however, in non-college women than in non-college men (10.1% and 5.3% respectively).

Overall Adderall® misuse is higher among college students (11.1%) than their non-college peers (8.1%)

Binge Drinking (five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks) Fell Below 30% for the First Time among College Students

In 2018, binge drinking declined among college students (28%) and non-college adults (25%).

*Please note, the college-age adults are ages 19-22.

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.