One of the trends I’ve been watching is to see what the legalization of marijuana will do to the use of other substances. Pot legalization supporters insist that if people have easy, legal access to marijuana, then many will feel less need to use alcohol or hard drugs. After 30 years of working in-the-trenches with drug and alcohol addiction, I can tell you that this does NOT hold true with what I’ve seen. Every day addicts come through the doors of our drug and alcohol rehab facility in South Ogden looking for help, and too many of them started out on so-called “soft” or “harmless” marijuana. For many people, marijuana becomes a “gateway” or reinforcement to drug addiction and heavy alcohol use.

Well, a recent study at Columbia University appears to confirm my experience. Half of the teen and young adult drivers who die in car crashes are under the influence of either pot, alcohol, or both!

What’s more, the increasing legalization and availability of marijuana doesn’t seem likely to push alcohol use aside, the researchers said. The crash victims in the study who were over age 21 (and of legal drinking age) were more likely than younger victims to have used both marijuana and alcohol prior to their crash.

Trying to make up your own mind about marijuana legalization and social drinking? Check out the study for yourself—

And, in case you didn’t catch one of our last blog posts, there’s mounting research tying marijuana use to mental illness—