AUSTIN (KXAN) – The use of some substances reached an all-time high for adults aged 35 to 50 in 2022, according to the results of a National Institute of Health survey

Per the annual survey, binge drinks and the use of marijuana and hallucinogens reached a historical apex among adults aged 35 to 50. NIH researchers said binge drinking has declined among younger adults (19 to 30) over the last decade, but marijuana, hallucinogen and nicotine vaping use is up. Further, marijuana use and vaping were at their highest levels for younger adults in 2022. 

“Substance use is not limited to teens and young adults, and these data help us understand how people use drugs across the lifespan,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, said. 

“Understanding these trends is a first step, and it is crucial that research continues to illuminate how substance use and related health impacts may change over time. We want to ensure that people from the earliest to the latest stages in adulthood are equipped with up-to-date knowledge to help inform decisions related to substance use,” she continued. 

Catherina Conte, a practice administrator for Integral Care, said alcohol use has been steadily increasing for several years and accelerated further during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 really just has had a profound impact on the collective mental health of our nation, And I think that this data really kind of points that out,” Conte said. “We all were dealing and grappling with the stress isolation, community traumas and other stressors that impacted or our daily lives,” she said. 

Locally, Conte said she has seen an increased need for a higher level of care in the Integral Care clinics centered around drug and alcohol treatment. 

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is the pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or above. For men, that’s around five or more drinks on one occasion and for women, around four. 

Conte said the likelihood of an adverse event increase with binge drinking, but it does not necessarily mean that person has an alcohol use disorder. Still, if someone’s drinking begins to negatively impact certain areas of their life, Conte recommends reflecting on their relationship with alcohol.

“Some of the questions I think about that somebody could reflect on include: when you drink, why do you drink, and how much [are you drinking]? Do you ever worry about running out of alcohol? If you’re traveling, do you worry about what might happen if you can’t get access to alcohol? Do you have trouble sleeping without alcohol or [another] substance? And when you are using – when you are drinking  – how do you feel [during] and after you drink?” she said.

“Kind of exploring some of those questions may give some insight,” she said.

Conte said there are several resources in Austin if a person does decide they need some extra help.  

For one, “Integral care has a 24-hour hotline – (512)-472-HELP – that provides support to folks needing assistance with their substance use, as well as, any other mental health-related needs,” she said.