Self-reported Illicit Drug Use Among Norwegian University and College Students: Association with Age, Gender, and Geography
In many Western countries, illicit drug use has been purportedly prevalent among students in higher education, even more so than in the general population. A recent study on the self-reported drug use of Norwegian university and college students has confirmed this phenomena and highlighted the need to address this issue.
The study analyzed data from the 2010, 2014, and 2018 installments of the SHoT study (Students’ Health and Well-being Study), a nationwide cross-sectional survey for higher education in Norway that included Norwegian full-time students aged 18–35. Several valuable insights emerged: First, the proportion of students reporting having ever tried illicit drugs increased drastically from 2014 to 2018, for both males (30.8 vs. 36.7%) and females (17.5 vs. 24.0%), while only minimal changes occurred between 2010 and 2014. Second, the most commonly used illicit drugs during 2018 were cannabis (15.2%), followed by MDMA (4.0%), cocaine (3.0%), and LSD/psilocybin (2.1%). For most of these substances, consumption frequency followed an inverted U-shaped pattern with peaked usage in the age span from 23 to 28 years of age while for some others, consumption frequency showed a linear increase with age. In addition, males reported higher illicit drug use compared with females for all drugs. Finally, proportions of illicit drug use varied across geographical areas within the country, with the highest use being reported in the Oslo area (the largest city and capital of Norway).