Friday, May 13, 2022

Driving Under the Influence Common Among People Who Use Methamphetamine, Cocaine

Nearly half of adults who have used methamphetamine during the last year have driven while under the influence, a study in Addictive Behaviors has found. The study also revealed that more than one-fifth of adults who have used cocaine in the last year have driven under the influence.

Trenette C. Goings, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues examined data from 170,944 adults aged 18 years and older who participated in the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2016 and 2019. As part of this survey, participants were asked if they had used cocaine or methamphetamine in the previous 12 months or driven under the influence of either of these substances in the previous 12 months.

Among those who reported using these substances in the previous 12 months, 47.2% who used methamphetamine and 21.6% who used cocaine reported driving under the influence in the same time frame, respectively.

“This is noteworthy given evidence suggesting cocaine-influenced driving … is considered to be more dangerous than [driving under the influence] of cannabis and comparable to driving with relatively low blood alcohol concentration,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, methamphetamine-influenced driving … is understood as comparable to or more dangerous than driving beyond legal [blood alcohol content] limits.”

Among adults who reported past-year use of cocaine or methamphetamine, those who drove while under the influence were more than twice as likely to have also experienced a depressive episode or psychological distress in the past year compared with those who used the substances but did not drive under the influence.

“[T]his greater likelihood of depressive symptoms might relate to psychological distress as a potential driver of increased substance use, which in turn, places individuals at greater risk of [driving under the influence of stimulants],” Goings and colleagues wrote. “Alternatively, or as a complement, we know depression is not only a primary symptom of cocaine/methamphetamine withdrawal, but also increased risk for depression is a long-term consequence of stimulant use.”

For related information, see the chapter “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” in The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, Seventh Edition.

(Image: iStock/snowflock)

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