Marijuana increases likelihood of alcohol use disorders: Study

Marijuana increases likelihood of alcohol use disorders: Study

Contradicting opinions are voiced when people have to make a choice between alcohol and marijuana. Washington D.C. and 23 American states have already legalized the use of marijuana for curative purposes, while four – Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon –allow sale of recreational marijuana to adults aged 21 and older.

While views are divided with each sharing a different perspective on alcohol consumption and pot smoking, a team of scientists from the United States conducted a research in 2016 if use of marijuana was linked with a greater prevalence of alcohol use disorders (AUD), three years hence, among those who did not consume alcohol.

The study also took a closer look at those with alcohol problems to check if pot smoking predicted the continuity of AUD in them too. The study, titled “Is cannabis use associated with an increased risk of onset and persistence of alcohol use disorders? The three-year prospective study among adults in the United States,” was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Linking cannabis use with onset and lingering of AUD

The research used data from 34,000 respondents who participated in both waves of the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders (NESARC; Wave 1, 2001–2001; Wave 2, 2004–2005). The participants had neither been institutionalized for addiction in either of marijuana or alcohol, nor had the age of AUD preceded their first usage of marijuana. The respondents who were diagnosed with either alcohol abuse or its dependence were categorized as having AUD.

Study findings

The findings of the study pointed out at an increased risk of onset of AUD and its persistence over the course of three years being directly associated with cannabis use. Stressing on the results, the scientists wrote, “The results from this study suggest a significant relationship between cannabis use and subsequent risk of alcohol use disorders for adults without a past AUD and risk of continued AUD for adults with an alcohol use disorder.”

Significance of the study

The findings of the study are significant considering that they come at a time when America is mulling over its decision to legalize marijuana and considering steps to re-evaluate outdated marijuana laws. Also, the spurring number of deaths due to alcohol abuse has prompted law enforcement officials, health service advocates and others to consider revision of various laws regulating sale and consumption of alcohol apart from introducing necessary restrictions and penalties on drunk driving. Though the attitude of Americans towards marijuana has changed with time, the fact that study of its health effects is still in its infancy cannot be ignored.

The conclusions derived from this study are important for medical practitioners treating patients addicted to cannabis use. Professional advice can be lent to patients while assessing and monitoring their problems due to alcohol.

Drinking and smoking in figures

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data released in 2014, alcohol-induced fatalities have reached around 90,000 annually in the U.S. and one in 10 deaths among working adults aged 20 and 64 were due to excessive drinking. Also, the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) puts forward marijuana as the most commonly used illicit drug in the country.

Way to recovery

The fact that drug and alcohol addicts are not getting the necessary comprehensive treatment they need is in itself the biggest challenge the country faces. While stressing on findings of data that reveal addiction as America’s most neglected disease, a Columbia University study in 2015 disclosed that the number of Americans meeting the clinical criteria for addiction was way beyond those suffering from heart diseases, diabetes or cancer.

Any kind of addiction is bad, and if you or your loved one is suffering from one, the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California can help you get rid of it. Our experts can guide you to the treatment option that best suits your need. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online with a specialist today.

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