Tag Archives: marijuana

Alcohol Mixed with Marijuana Proves to be Deadlier Behind the Wheel

alcohol and marijuanaDespite pro-marijuana advocates claiming the drug isn’t harmful, new research from Columbia University proves otherwise with statistics on traffic fatalities involving marijuana and alcohol. Of the thousands of two-car accidents they gathered data from, it is very clear that driving under the influence of either substances poses a serious danger.

“The risk of crash initiation from concurrent use of alcohol and marijuana among drivers increases by more than fivefold when compared with drivers who used neither of the substances,” explained Dr. Guohua Li, co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The statistics also showed that fatalities increase by 62% when the driver is under the influence of marijuana alone, and 437% for alcohol. This information highlights the need for better regulation of marijuana-impaired drivers, as someone could be under the legal blood alcohol level but have also smoked weed and be highly dangerous on the road.

The statistics were gathered from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which identified that males between the ages of 25 and 44 were the largest group of offenders. Although this isn’t surprising, it does bring up questions about the latest trend in “bro culture” that fosters irresponsible behavior such as frequent substance abuse.

As marijuana use has grown in popularity given its legalization in a few states, better testing and prevention measures for drivers must be implemented. It wasn’t too long ago that pot smokers thought they could get away with it by chewing some gum and using eye drops to reduce redness, but today there are more ways of testing, such as breathalyzers and saliva strips.

The bottom line is that it’s not worth it, and that we should be working to help people in need of substance abuse treatment. It is imperative to save lives though continued vigilance. If you have a friend or family member who has addiction-related problems, contact us today to find out more about what you can do to help and about successful treatment options.

Rap Music Least Likely to Contain Drug References Compared to other Genres

rap music drugs

Credit: Addictions.com

A surprising study shows that rap music is actually the least likely of all genres to have lyrics containing references to drugs. This goes against what many had mistakenly assumed about this type of music and also sheds light on the drug reference content in other songs and formats. Researchers have discovered that country music actually contains more references to drugs and drug using than any other type of music.

However, the study shows that the lack of drug references in rap is a new phenomenon. After hitting a peak of drug-laden rhymes near the turn of the century, hip hop artists are now more likely to focus on other aspects of life.

“It’s incredibly telling if you look at music history, the 60s is when drugs started being mentioned more and more in the media. But there’s clearly some surprising new information here. We did this study to raise awareness about how drug references in music may interact with addiction, and to alert people in case they want to avoid hearing about drugs in their everyday music,” explained Logan Freedman, one of the researchers on the study.

In addition to researching the type of music that contains drug references, the researchers also wanted to pinpoint what artists tend to cite drugs in their music. They found that Tyga tops the list when it comes to mentioning ecstasy (72 references). Queens of The Stone Age comes in third, mostly due to their song, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” which has a repeating phrase of “Nicotine, valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol”.

Marijuana is the most talked about drug in music, followed by cocaine, acid, pills, meth, heroin and ecstasy. What wasn’t studied was the impact that drug use in music can have on overall use. It appears that teenagers would be most susceptible to the influence, as they are in other life situations as well.

Gateway or Not, Marijuana Use Often Comes First

Marijuana UseWhether or not marijuana is a gateway drug has been debated for years. Advocates of marijuana legalization have argued that marijuana is in no way associated with future use of harder drugs. However, there is yet another study that recently shows this not to be the case, at lease with regard to prescription painkillers.

This information comes at a time when several states are in the process of legalizing marijuana for adults, or considering putting the issue on the ballot. And while no state is looking to make marijuana legal for adolescents, it previous surveys have found that it becomes more prevalent and they have greater access to the drug.

The recent survey was conducted with 11,000 children and teenagers who were asked a series of questions related to their drug and alcohol use. Included in these questions was whether or not they had used prescription opioids in the past 30 days and if they had ever used marijuana. The survey was specifically looking to see if there was a connection between marijuana use and prescription painkiller use. After the data was collected, it was discovered that out of 11,000 participants, 524 had used prescription painkiller in the last month. Of those 524 children and teenagers, 80% had used marijuana prior to using painkillers.

And while this certainly does not mean that if you use marijuana you will definitely use opioids, it does a show a link. Teenagers who use prescription painkillers are more likely to have used marijuana first. This information may provide a guideline for parents and educators for prevention measures.

Additional information synthesized from the study shows that teenagers who drink alcohol and use tobacco products in addition to opioids are much more likely to have started out with just marijuana. Stopping a child when they are smoking marijuana is likely much easier than stopping a child when they are addicted to prescription drugs, where more serious interventions may be needed.

Research Indicates that Marijuana Use Weakens the Heart

marijuana useInformation recently presented by the American Heart Association shows that marijuana use increases a person’s chance of experiencing heart problems known as stress cardiomyopathy. Although the condition is not a heart attack, it is a sudden malfunction of the heart muscle that causes the heart to have difficulty pumping blood.

The onset of stress cardiomyopathy is usually accompanied by chest pain. The current research has found that marijuana users are nearly twice as likely to experience this condition as non-users. There is not much additional research on the connection, and researchers are calling for a more in-depth study on how marijuana affects the heart.

Based on information gathered nationwide, researchers were able to see the type of person who was presenting with this this heart issue and who also smoked marijuana. These people were usually young, male and without previous heart issues. This indicates that marijuana was the cause of the condition. This is a cause for concern for many people because additional states have begun legalizing recreational use of marijuana among adults.

“The effects of marijuana, especially on the cardiovascular system, are not well known yet. With its increasing availability and legalization in some states, people need to know that marijuana may be harmful to the heart and blood vessels in some people,” commented Amitoj Singh, M.D. and co-author of the study and chief cardiology fellow at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Potential heart complications are not something that many people hear about in relation to marijuana use. Those that are considering or are already engaging in marijuana use need to be informed of the possible health risks. And perhaps more importantly, education needs to include relevant studies that show what sort of risk marijuana users take when they consume the drug.

Several states had recently allowed voters to decide if recreational marijuana use would be legalized. Although a few states did pass the measure, Arizona was among those who did not approve its use.

Lowered IQ a Side Effect of Early Marijuana Use

Despite the rising acceptance of marijuana in a few states, researchers are sounding the alarm that the drug is not as safe as some may think. A recent study, performed by researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, show that heavy marijuana use by people under the age of 17 is more likely to lower their IQ and develop other types of problems with the brain.

Brain imaging and psychological tests have revealed that marijuana not only lowers IQ but marijuana use among younger people does nothing to help depression or any other psychiatric problems. Although there has been a concept of being able to temporarily forget one’s problems through drug use, this study shows that even supposedly less harmful drugs only temporarily relieve symptoms, at best.

“The study suggests that using marijuana does not correct the brain abnormalities or symptoms of depression and using it from an early age may have an abnormal effect not only on brain function, but also on IQ,” explained Elizabeth Osuch, lead author of the study.

Educating society on the real effects of marijuana has been an uphill battle for a few reasons, such as the lack of long-term studies prior to the legalization of the drug in some areas. The study conducted by Osuch and her team unveils a very real problem, and a much more valid reason to second guess further support of the drug.

While advocates of smoking marijuana may claim the drug is relatively harmless, but when frequent use by teens turns into “dumbing down” our future generation, that can have a much broader long-term impact.

What are the Economic Effects of Marijuana Use?

clinicalpsyexcelMany researchers throughout the world have continued to investigate the effects of long-term marijuana use. One of the aspects that academics and clinicians are looking into is the economic standing of people who have used marijuana for a sustained periods of time. The results of a recent study indicated that there was a correlation between smoking pot and having inhibited economic conditions.

The details of the study were published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science and compared non-users, short-term users and long-term users of marijuana. Those who engaged in cannabis use more than four times a week for several years were more likely to end up economically worse than their parents. It was more common for these people to have lower paying jobs that require less skill and pay lower wages than people who are not regular users. Additionally, people who abused marijuana frequently were more likely to display behaviors at work like that included stealing or lying to get the job.

When analyzing the data, researchers accounted for varying IQ levels, antisocial behavior and depression in adolescence, higher levels of impulsivity, lower motivation to achieve, criminal conviction of cannabis users, and abuse of alcohol and hard drugs. Despite all these changes, it was still determined that long-term marijuana users were more likely to have a lowered economic status due to their use of the drug.

The study was conducted by an international team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerdá at the University of California, Davis, Health System, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University.

“Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization,” commented Cerdá, “But it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study.”

She brings up a relevant point in what has become a heated topic in some states. For drug prevention and treatment advocates, the mere fact that long-term use of marijuana has been found to be harmful in many ways is reason enough to promote abstinence from the drug, whether it becomes legal or not.

New Study Implicates Marijuana as Catalyst for Other Drug Use

Smoking marijuanaA popular debate surrounding marijuana has been whether or not it is a “gateway” drug. A “gateway” drug is a substance can make it more likely that a person will use more drugs afterward, especially those considered to be heavier drugs. Many people have argued that marijuana is one of these gateway drugs and therefore should not become legal in the United States, while proponents of the drug say that such a claim is not true.

Now there is additional information that has been made available indicating that marijuana use does indeed increase the chances for people to wind up using other drugs as well. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute decided to look into this debate to determine if there is any validity to the claims that marijuana is a gateway drug, and their results were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

After studying information gathered from approximately 34,000 adults of a prior survey, they were able to conclude that there appears to be a connection between marijuana use, tobacco, alcohol and other illicit drugs. The study included people from many different age ranges and backgrounds, so it wasn’t just confined to a particular set of people, such as college students, though the effect it has on that population was of interest to some.

“The sample of this study is adults age 18 or above and not necessarily all college students. However, because college students are in an important developmental stage in terms of both physical and intellectual growth, risky use of marijuana and its potential consequence of drug use disorders can have particularly adverse effect on college students,” explained Ziming Xuan, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

In addition to this information, the study also pointed out that the use of the drug can result in heavier abuse and dependency. Although this fact has been debated, there definitely are people who become addicted to marijuana and need treatment in order to regain control over their lives.

Employers Cracking Down on Marijuana Use

shrmpotsurveypicNow that a handful of states have voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults, we’re starting to see some of the ways that affects communities. One way is on the job. Since it is well known that marijuana use reduces ambition and blunts perceptions in most people, employers aren’t exactly eager to welcome the drug into the workplace.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), more than half of employers in states where recreational marijuana use is legal either have or are planning to implement drug use policies with specific rules for that drug. It noted that the vast majority of employers will continue to follow federal guidelines regarding marijuana use, as that protects their freedom to refuse employment to people who use the drug.

Despite some people claiming it is discriminatory, employers have the right to set these standards and protect their workforce from potential accidents and their bottom line from underperformance.

“There is what I consider to be a significant number of employers that are saying they wouldn’t hire an employee that uses marijuana,” said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at the SHRM.

Thankfully, these HR managers haven’t seen a large influx of people coming to work under the influence, or at least it has not been detected. Also, even though there may be more strict policies regarding substance abuse, there are fewer companies that carry out mandatory pre-employment drug screens for all new hires. One big area of concern, though is that the number of millenials entering the workforce could start to change much of the demographics surrounding marijuana use.

Marijuana Edibles Causing Concern

marijuana edibleOne of the unforeseen issues with the legalization of recreational marijuana use by adults in states like Colorado has been overdoses related to marijuana edibles. These are often baked goods and other edibles where the drug is infused into the preparation process and consumed with the food or candy.

There are several dangers in this that have sprung up, quite in addition to regular use of the drug. One of them is that these edibles are more appealing to young people, and there have been numerous emergency room visits due to children consuming the drug by eating marijuana-infused cookies and other treats.

The THC content (the active ingredient in marijuana) is hard to control in these dangerous snacks as well. Sometimes there may be five or more “servings” in a chocolate bar, for example, yet a person eats the whole thing and winds up overdosing on marijuana. Another way that these overdoses occur is because unlike smoking the drug, eating it has a delayed effect since it has to pass through the stomach first. This has caused many people to continue consumption well past the amount the intended, and then it’s too late once it starts to take effect.

Marijuana overdose situations can include a variety of symptoms, such as extreme nervousness or paranoia, pounding headache, racing heart, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and more. It’s not to be taken lightly, especially as more people are showing up in emergency rooms due to marijuana intoxication.

Despite claims to the contrary, people can and do become addicted to marijuana and need treatment help to recover from it. If you or someone you love has a problem with marijuana, contact us today for more information on our effective drug rehabilitation services.

Drugged Driving Statistics Present Dangerous Picture

druggeddrivigninfoFor many years, the primary focus for preventing impaired driving was aimed at alcohol. Although drunk driving is certainly a deadly activity, people under the influence of other substances have quietly become just as lethal.

A recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility presented some disturbing facts about drugged driving, but also issue recommendations on how to reduce this problem nationally as well as on a state level. “Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana,” said Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of GHSA. “This is the first report to provide states and other stakeholders with the information they need.”

One of the areas of concern includes the increase in the number of people driving under the influence of marijuana. As the report notes, 23 states now have medical marijuana laws and four have approved recreational use. This has meant a larger percentage of people on the roads who are high.

Even more of an issue is the number of people who are driving after taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Whether following prescription dosage or abusing them, these substances can often impair people more than they realize. Too many people operate vehicles after taking these drugs under the assumption that it is perfectly fine. However, impaired is still impaired.

The most disastrous scenario is when people drink and take drugs, as the combination of use creates greater impairment and causes more harm. Many times the effects of both the alcohol and the drugs are amplified by each other, and there are also additional symptoms as a result.

The Governors Highway Safety Association recommends that each state review its drugged driving laws and also invests in more information and awareness campaigns regarding the behavior.