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Drug use down among teens, with one notable exception - marijuana

Driving while high is an increasing danger

There is good news on the fight to reduce drug abuse in America. Even in the midst of an opioid epidemic, the use of alcohol, heroin and cocaine is down among teenagers across the U.S. The one exception is marijuana, which has become less stigmatized in recent years and is, of course, now legal in a number of states.

The number of teens who drink and drive has decreased steadily in the past decades. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true of marijuana. According to a 2017 survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), one-third of teens believed that smoking marijuana and driving is legal. And while nearly 90 percent agreed that drunk driving was dangerous, only about 68 percent agreed that smoking marijuana and driving is dangerous. According to Just Think Twice, approximately 20 percent of teens have admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or being in the car with someone who has done so, at least once.

Marijuana affects driving ability

The myth that marijuana does not impair driving ability is widespread and false. While it is true that marijuana's effects are not the same as alcohol, marijuana does impair motor control, decision making and reaction time. Under the influence of marijuana, you are less able to focus on driving and react to dangers. Simply put, driving high is dangerous.

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

December is often a time for celebrations and time off - meaning alcohol and drug use can increase. With the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign active throughout the country, we often hear near daily reminders not to drink and drive. It is a good time to remind teens - and everyone else - that driving after smoking marijuana can be equally dangerous.

Please stay safe over the holidays, and plan for alternative rides home if you are drinking. For teens, abstaining from drugs or alcohol is always the best choice. If you do smoke marijuana, however, remember that it is not a safe alternative to drinking and driving. Getting high before getting behind the wheel puts your life and the lives of others on the road at risk.

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