does cannabis help with alcohol abuse
does cannabis help with alcohol abuse

Is Cannabis Helpful for Alcohol Abuse?

Does medical marijuana help with alcoholism?

Posted by:
christalcann on Wednesday Nov 13, 2019

Is Cannabis Helpful for Alcohol Abuse?

cannabis for alcohol abuse

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are most likely one of the world’s greatest struggles. Those who have been struggling with this, know that ultimately the only way out is to stop drinking. But long-time drinking leads often to a physical dependence on alcohol. Stopping abruptly has severe consequences as withdrawal symptoms can often be life-threatening. Could Marijuana Maintenance be a way to taper off alcohol? Is it safe to say that using cannabis as a substitute medicine weaning abusers off alcohol, will work?


Cannabis, Alcohol, and Opioid Usage in a Nutshell

Cannabis over the last few years has become almost a household name. This normalization process had not only an effect on the consumption of cannabis alone but also on alcohol and opioids. Interestingly enough, society has also shifted its outlook on alcohol. College students and adolescents have been known for excessive abuse of alcohol for years now. But with the legalization of cannabis, they have been noticed to drink less than before. Their aim has been shifted to cannabis and a marginal increase in cannabis use has been seen.

In areas where cannabis is legal, a reduction in pharmaceutical medicine has also been experienced. People are more educated on the benefits of cannabis and starting to realize that pharmaceuticals have severe side effects. Cannabis is a safer substitute for prescription medication. Naturally, this would flow over to a replacement for weaning of certain addictions like alcohol.


Marijuana as a Substitute for Alcohol

Substitute therapies are nothing new. People trying to quit smoking or getting off something like heroin have been using replacement therapies for years. That is why looking into cannabis as a replacement treatment for alcohol abuse is not surprising. There are certain criteria a substitute therapy has to comply with to see if it would be effective. These criteria are:

  • Alcohol consumption and the harm it brings should be reduced
  • It should be harmless or less harmful than alcohol
  • Misuse must be less than alcohol
  • It must be seen as a substitute for alcohol and not needed with alcohol
  • Must be safer in overdose than alcohol
  • The effects of alcohol should not be potentiated when taken an overdose
  • It has to offer significant health benefits


Does Cannabis meet these Criteria?


Reducing Alcohol Consumption and harm – In a case study of a 49-year-old woman, cannabis helped the lady to stop drinking altogether. Over 5 months, significant health and mental improvement were observed. After 2 years, her liver and overall health returned to normal. In more studies, it was found that that cannabis reduced the craving for alcohol and masked the euphoria related to alcohol. It also improved overall health in general.


Harmless, or less harmful than Alcohol – In terms of physical harm and dependence, cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and benzodiazepines.  Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and benzodiazepines are very severe, but withdrawal from cannabis is far safer.


Misuse Less than Alcohol

The physiological and psychological dependence is far lower in using cannabis than that of alcohol, even though about 9% of those using cannabis show dependence. About 17.8% of users of alcohol show lifetime dependence that makes it almost double that of cannabis.


Substitute for Alcohol without Need to use it with alcohol

Some people consider cannabis complementary to alcohol, but research suggests otherwise. They found that cannabis is rather used as a substitute in the place of alcohol. Studies so far have been limited to alcohol abusers who used cannabis as well.


Must be Safer in Overdose than Alcohol

Very rarely, if ever, cannabis is the only drug involved in a fatal overdose. Alcohol, on the other hand, has a 3.5% fatality rate in the US alone. Imagine the percentage worldwide.


Should not potentiate Alcohol when taken to overdose

The amounts of deaths contributed to cannabis is zero. This means that it can not be taken as an overdose drug. Combining cannabis with alcohol does not mean higher blood or breath levels either. Cannabis rather slows down the absorption of alcohol that as a result reduces the psychoactive effect of alcohol.  But it could definitely lead to greater impairment though, and it is not advisable to drive when drinking or smoking cannabis. It is also not recommended to work with heavy tools. THC and alcohol have psychoactive effects and should be taken into consideration.


It has to offer significant Health Benefits

Economically alone, alcohol abuse is far more expensive than cannabis abuse. Furthermore, instead of harming the body, cannabis rather renders better health overall. Many studies show how the physical condition of a cannabis user improves over time. Alcohol has the opposite effect and causes harm to the body when it is abused.



All the above criteria are successfully met by cannabis. Cannabis is thus a great replacement therapy to use with alcohol abusers. Those using cannabis as a substitute treatment showed also a better treatment completion. Apart from helping alcohol abusers to wean off alcohol, they also get the benefit of bettering their health.











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