Survey Shows Drinking Down at UI, Marijuana Up

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

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By Forrest Saunders

IOWA CITY, Iowa - University of Iowa students may be putting down the bottle, but are they picking something else up? A recent survey of 930 UI undergrads showed alcohol use is at a more than 20 year low, but marijuana use is up.

Twenty-eight-point-six-percent of UI students have used marijuana in the past 30 days, according to the survey. That's up 4.6% from 2012. It's the second highest level since 1991. That survey also showed 12% of undergrads used pot at least 10 times in the past month and 4.1% use it daily.

"It's not a humongous, 'Whoa! We've got a huge problem here'," said University of Iowa Behavioral Health Manager Tanya Villhauer.

But it is enough to warrant a close eye. Villhauer said marijuana use already hinders student success at school.

"I mean they just don't care quite as much to go to class, or to do what they need to do. So yes we certainly think that it's an impediment," said Villhauer.

So then, why the bump? Some speculate marijuana is filling the void left by alcohol.

"That's how I view it, because once one thing is gone, someone is going to find something else," said former UI student Sami Wumkes.

The substance abuse specialists at Mecca don't buy the alcohol/pot connection. They said the two are too dissimilar for their users.

"I think that's a stretch," said Mecca Clinical Manager Steve Steine. "The two drugs themselves used together or separately have some pretty different effects on individuals.”

Instead, Steine suggested the bump is either students dealing with higher stress at school, or maybe more national acceptance after pot's legalization in states like Colorado.

Either way, he agrees with the university, the dope jump isn't a major concern.

“It's a trend. The next time they do a survey, I would expect a decline," said Steine.

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