WEDNESDAY, June 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The prevalence of youth substance use largely declined during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a review recently published in Current Psychiatry Reports.

Hannah M. Layman, from West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to assess trends in substance use (across alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, e-cigarettes/vaping, and other drugs and unspecified substances) among youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on 49 included studies, the researchers found that overall, the prevalence of youth alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and e-cigarette/vaping use declined during the pandemic. However, for other drugs and unspecified drug and substance use, three studies reported an increase in use and three studies reported a decrease in use.

“One of the driving factors for youth substance use is access to substances,” Layman said in a statement. “With stay-at-home orders, virtual schooling and social distancing, children have been spending more time with family and are more socially isolated from peers than before. Although social isolation from peers may have a negative impact on their mental health, it may just be one of the desirable outcomes of the pandemic when considering substance use in children.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Planet Youth, a youth substance use prevention service organization.

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