the Red Oak Recovery<sup>®</sup> wordmark in color

Driving After Marijuana Use Now More Prevalent Than Drunk Driving Among High School Seniors

Experience clinician-run addiction treatment at Red Oak Recovery® in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains

Driving After Marijuana Use Now More Prevalent Than Drunk Driving Among High School Seniors

/One recent study highlighting the need for a young adult treatment center in 2014 to be as well-equipped to cater for marijuana-addicted young adults as for those with other substance use issues came from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The 2011 survey found that almost 1 in 6 high school seniors reported that in the two weeks beforehand, they had driven a motor vehicle following heavy drinking or illicit drug usage. Nearly 1 in 4 said that they had recently accompanied such a person on a drive in a vehicle.

28 percent of respondents in total had put themselves at risk in that short timeframe, by spending time in a vehicle driven by someone who had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or who had drunk a minimum of 5 alcoholic drinks. The last four years had seen these rates increase by 20 percent, almost entirely attributable to an increase in drinking after smoking marijuana.

These statistics were taken by Dr. Patrick M. O’Malley and Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston from how 22,000 12th graders responded to a questionnaire in the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. What also emerged from the students’ answers was that driving after marijuana use has become more common among 12th graders than drinking and driving.

Whereas 12.4 percent – 1 in 8 – of the students said that during the last two weeks, they had driven following marijuana use, only 1 in 11 (8.7 percent) had driven after consuming alcohol. Compared to the 2008 version of the survey, there was a sharp increase in the percentage of high school seniors driving after using marijuana, from 10.4 percent. Drinking and driving, meanwhile, had declined from a 16 percent peak in 2002.

These changes are in keeping with general trends in students’ use of marijuana and alcohol. However, while it is widely known how detrimental an effect alcohol can have on road safety, the similarly dangerous effects of marijuana have not been so commonly acknowledged.

The study found, for example, that there was a similar likelihood of an accident for high school seniors who drove after marijuana use as for those who drank heavily – 26.9 percent and 30.2 percent respectively – 12 months prior to taking the survey. They were also similarly likely to have been given traffic tickets or warnings, at 42.1 percent and 43.2 percent respectively.

Recommended measures to reduce both drunk and drugged driving among American adolescents, as outlined in a recent Institute for Behavior and Health (IBH) report prepared at the request of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), include the evaluation and improvement of drugged-driving laws, educational programs, and data collection. They also included the development and standardization of drug testing methods in drivers.

However, there can be little doubt that the right young adult treatment center – such as Red Oak Recovery® – can also play an integral role.