In a new review of accident studies and statistics, drivers using marijuana are at a much greater risk of being involved in automobile crashes and even of dying in one. The study’s author, Dr. Guohua Li of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, found that this risk also extends to users of other drugs besides marijuana.

In fact, in a large U.S. survey in 2009, it was estimated that more than 10 million people had driven under the influence in the prior year. Also, it revealed that in tests of drivers who had died in a car crash, 28 percent had tested positive for drugs other than alcohol. More than eleven percent of drivers in general also tested positive for drugs other than alcohol.

Marijuana is the second most commonly found drug after alcohol. And, as might be expected, the risk is even higher if the driver had also been drinking alcohol.

Authors of this study published online Oct. 4 in Epidemiologic Reviews believe their findings are especially relevant in light of recent moves to legalize medical marijuana in many states. However, none of the studies in this group looked directly at the use or effect of medical marijuana, now legal in 16 states plus the District of Columbia.

Experts cite that marijuana may interfere with reaction times and coordination, among other effects. The immediate effects of taking marijuana include rapid heart beat, disorientation, lack of physical coordination, often followed by depression or sleepiness. Some heavy users suffer panic attacks or anxiety. Marijuana is a hallucinogen which means that it is a substance that distorts one’s perception of the world around him.

The authors of the new study said it is critical to determine the crash risk related to marijuana in different doses, strengths, and administration methods, such as smoking versus vaporization.

They did conclude that the more the drug that was smoked, both in terms of frequency and potency, the greater was the likelihood of a crash.

These studies looked at effects on drivers in different time frames: some assessed marijuana use as little as one hour before driving while others looked at use as long ago as one year. According to one study cited, driving skills are acutely affected for three to four hours after use.

Couple these findings with the fact that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, and that more than 14.4 million individuals reported that they had smoked marijuana at least once during the previous month, according to a 2007 survey in the U.S., and the future of automobile safety policy comes into question.

Despite some people’s opinions, marijuana is addictive and people often cannot stop using it when they want to, thus increasing their risk of accidents, causing harm to themselves and others.

Narconon has been successfully rehabilitating drug and alcohol addicts for the past 45 years, with its very effective, drug-free methods of withdrawal. Narconon has centers in 50 countries and offers residential rehabilitation as well as outpatient options in some places.

If you know someone who has a drug abuse problem call a Narconon drug rehab counselor today.



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