Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Alcohol/Marijuana Combo Use Among Teens More Dangerous Than Drinking Alone

It’s well known that drunk driving is dangerous. So too is drugged driving. But a recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that when teens mix alcoholic beverages with use of marijuana, the results are often even more deadly than when using just one of these substances.

Specifically, the study found that:

  • Alcohol-using teens were 40 percent more likely to report receiving a traffic citation and 24 percent more likely to report involvement in a car accident as compared to sober peers.
  • Alcohol- and marijuana-using teens were 90 percent more likely to receive a traffic ticket and 50 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.
  • A number of the teen participants reported using alcohol but not marijuana, but few reported using marijuana but not alcohol.

Yvonne Terry-McElrath of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor was lead researcher on the study. She said, “Simultaneous use makes a big difference in your risk for unsafe driving. There’s a very clear increase in risk for this group of kids, and for the rest of us on the roads. As you go from alcohol use to alcohol and marijuana use concurrently, your risk increased. There’s a clear stair-stepping up the risk process for tickets and warnings.”

Risk-Taking Behaviors

Interestingly, it was also found that teens who drank and smoked marijuana simultaneously were more likely to drive poorly and end up getting a ticket or to be involved in an accident even when they were not actively under the influence.

Said Terry-McElrath, “[T]his suggests that it’s not only the frequency of substance use that’s important. The patterns of drug use are also related to the risk of unsafe driving.”

It may also indicate a greater propensity toward risk-taking behavior in general, which has been linked with an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

You Can Make a Difference

Marijuana legalization laws, new versions of synthetic marijuana, over-the-counter drug abuse, the problems with combining substances—the landscape is much different for teenagers today as compared to 15 or 20 years ago. But parents can still have an impact on the choices their kids make, even if they make some unsafe decisions.

If your son is struggling with alcohol use, marijuana use, or abuse of a combination of substances, we can help him here at Muir Wood. Our experiential trek program can help your son learn how to stop drinking and using drugs and learn how to start keeping himself safe. Call now for more information.