Vulnerable young people turned to alcohol, weed during Covid pandemic
Vulnerable young people smoked more cannabis, drank more alcohol, and used more laughing gas during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Antenne Region Monitor 2020-2021. Part of this group said they turned to these sedatives because of loneliness, stress, fear, or in defiance against the coronavirus restrictions. This change of motivation for drug and alcohol use worries experts, Trouw reports.
For the Antenne Region Monitor, researchers interviewed youth workers about at-risk young people between 16 and 28. These young adults often have multiple or complex problems, including difficult family situations or unemployment.
The researchers found that the use of stimulants like ecstasy "imploded" because the pandemic shut down the nightlife. Instead, vulnerable young people turned to agents with a more soothing effect. "The motives for using shifted in the corona year. Some groups used cannabis before the pandemic. They got together, put on some music, and smoked weed to reinforce the group. They undertook their own activities around it, such as sports or school. Now that those activities have ceased due to corona, they started smoking weed more and also at other times of the day," researcher Ton Nabben of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences said.
The motivation for using plays a role in addiction risk, addiction expert Floor van Bakkum said to Trouw. "Suppose you use cocaine when you feel good. Then you may be at risk at that moment, but you are not immediately addicted. But if you use coke when you just lost your job or when you feel anxious, the drug takes on an entirely different function. It can then become more complicated to control usage."
The researchers also looked at regional differences. Laughing gas is mainly used by vulnerable young people in large cities. Before the pandemic, this often happened in clubs and shisha lounges. Now it primarily happens on the street or in the car, the researchers found.
The designer drug 3-MMC is particularly popular among young people in smaller towns. This drug is the only stimulant that gained popularity during the pandemic.