NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The use of marijuana and hallucinogens is soaring among young adults.
According to an annual government report, people from ages 19-30 are using one or the other at a rate not seen since 1988.
Stephanie Strutner with the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee said understanding the drug landscape shift can help parents have more informed conversations with their children.
"Primary prevention is key, and it starts at an early age and often in the home. So, it's really important that parents have conversations with their adolescents about substances that can be misused."
Strutner said just because some drugs are legal, that doesn't mean they aren't harmful, especially during developmental years.
"We see differences in memory, cognition, learning, motivation, reward. There's also some psychological barriers that become prevalent when there's early onset of cannabis use," she said.
While young adult use of psychedelics in Tennessee isn't as high as nationwide, a growing trend in the state is vaping.
"Adolescents and teens are vaping both nicotine products as well as cannabis and THC products," she said.
Strutner said communication is key to helping prevent misuse in the future.
"Research has proven for many years that adolescents whose parents have conversations with them about abstaining from alcohol and other drug use are far less likely to use. So it's critical that parents have these conversations with their children from a very early age," she said.
However, the data isn't all negative. Strutner said there is some progress. In the last few years, the use of opioids and tobacco use has continued to decline.
For additional resources related to treating or preventing substance abuse, you can visit the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service website.