Marijuana Use Could Help Alcoholics Quit Drinking

It’s easy to enjoy a drink while having fun at every party. However, some people might not be able to control how much they’re drinking.

About 16 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder. These people drink too much or too often, in ways that harm their health, life, and relationships. They often see the habit as a way to cope with a mental health concern like depression or anxiety. They make excuses for their drinking or doing things to hide their drinking. While it may seem to keep the symptoms at bay, they develop a craving, physical dependence, and tolerance. Alcoholism is a long-term disease. It can make you miss work or get in trouble with the law (i.e. drunk driving). You feel like you have to drink just to survive the day. And when you stop drinking, you experience withdrawal symptoms which include anxiety, sweating, feeling sick to your stomach, and shakiness.

How much drinking is too much?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.

  • Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, is defined as consuming:
    • For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion.
    • For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming
    • For women, 8 or more drinks per week.
    • For men, 15 or more drinks per week.

CDC pointed out that most people who are drinking excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent. A severe alcohol use disorder has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Inability to limit drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite personal or professional problems
  • Needing to drink more to get the same effect
  • Wanting a drink so badly you can’t think of anything else

Cannabis: A Gateway to Recovery

Cannabis A Gateway to Recovery

Cannabis aided alcoholism recovery is referred to as marijuana maintenance in Alcoholics Anonymous. The concept is that you will smoke or ingest cannabis instead of taking a drink. Responsible marijuana use may also address the root cause of your drinking habit and relieve psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic stress.

With this approach in mind, one treatment center in California uses cannabis-inclusive modalities during the cleansing process, helping with discomfort, insomnia, and flu-like symptoms associated with the withdrawal. Like any other medication,  the determination of how cannabis is used is made by the doctor.

Moreover, a 2009 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal concluded that the substitution of one psychoactive substance for another with the goal of reducing negative outcomes can be included within the framework of harm reduction. The participants of the study experienced fewer adverse side effects and better symptom management which are the most common reasons for substituting alcohol for cannabis.

The University of British Columbia also conducted a similar study. The researchers examined the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other psychoactive drugs among medical cannabis users with and without histories of substance use treatment. The participants completed online or in-person survey that queried attitudes and behaviors associated with medical cannabis use, substance use treatment history, and substitution of cannabis for alcohol and/or illicit drugs. Moderate cannabis use was associated with higher retention rates than cannabis abstainers, suggesting cannabis may provide an effective substitute.

When To Seek Help

If you are unable to exercise restraint and self-control and it’s causing trouble in your relationships, work, school, and social activities, it’s time to seek help through alcohol recovery programs, support groups, and your healthcare provider.

Are you interested in potentially using medical marijuana? See our doctor online to find out if it’s right for you.

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