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Cannabis: an Essential Piece of the Puzzle Missing in Alcohol/Addiction Recovery Programs
Alcoholism, a form of addiction that 17.6 million Americans suffer from, has blatantly managed to be a part of everybody’s lifestyle for centuries. People treat it as a special entity but you will be surprised to see the numbers JAMA Network recently revealed.
In a study published by JAMA, deaths due to alcohol alarmingly rose between 2000 and 2016, and the no. is rising consistently ever since. Surprisingly, the study also revealed that annual deaths due to alcohol use have doubled by 78% in men and spiked from 4,648 to 9,644 in the case of women.
These numbers are nowhere related to drinking and driving but they are directly proportional to excessive use of alcohol and deaths due to alcohol-induced liver disease, pancreatic disorder, and more vitally alcohol poisoning.
Interestingly, some heavy alcohol users have managed to come out of the addiction zone through strict planning or with the help of addiction centers. However, no one person was ever made the same.
In other words, for some these plans may work but for others, a completely bizarre alternative sometimes manages to work miracles. In the light of alternatives, there is one that has gained maximum traction. You may call it CBD or cannabis for alcoholism, but people with alcoholism issues view it as an alternative to minimum harm reduction.
The only exception, in this case, is that cannabis is still in its infancy and we have little or very little research regarding cannabis as a substitute for alcohol. Nonetheless, with some examples and studies, we will help you understand how CBD and marijuana as a whole can be an effective treatment for alcohol abuse. But first, let’s see how both marijuana and alcohol interact with our body.
Smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol affect the body in nearly opposite ways mentally, physically, and spiritually. Marijuana helped me realize that taking care of the mental and physical without the spiritual is pointless when it comes to feeling healthy and at peace.
Biologically, as soon as alcohol gets into your system, it starts killing things like your brain cells, cognitive function, the good bacteria in your gut, your liver, your heart, etc., and these all have long term effects. This isn’t to scare anybody, here is one of many articles about the harmful effects of alcohol on the body. We use alcohol to kill germs and sterilize equipment because it kills things, what makes us think that there is any real benefit to the human body, especially when consumed excessively?
Smoking marijuana on the other hand, has a much different effect on your physical and your mind. For me, it’s like having an emotional barometer inside, because it allows me to feel what my body is trying to tell me without having to try and hide from the reality.
So, after gaining some smoking experience, weed does what I tell it to, and in the way that my body wants or needs it to be done. Having a purpose before and while you smoke weed can completely alter your state allowing you to deal with emotions and feelings as they come, rather than just drowning them out with alcohol so they can magnify later.
This is crucial in breaking the addiction pattern in our minds, so an alcoholic can be free from dependency, not just from alcohol, but free from the recovery program too. When someone begins to meditate while they’re smoking weed and allows their body to just feel the emotions amplified by marijuana, and then release the negative energy for about a half an hour per day, their life will change dramatically, especially if they’re trying to recover from addiction.
Alcohol withdrawals can be deadly so if you need to detox under medical care, please do so. But if you’re trying to wean yourself off booze because you’d like to drink less, weed is the perfect companion. Doctors actually prescribed marijuana for delirium tremens (a symptom of alcohol withdrawal) until 1941 when weed became illegal, but now it’s being reintroduced as an alternative treatment again.
I detoxed in the hospital because a friend had sent the police to my house to do a wellness check after getting some texts from me that sounded suicidal. I’m very lucky to have the friends that I have. In the hospital, they gave benzodiazepines to ease the pain of the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, but benzos are highly addictive and offer nearly the same withdrawal effects and dangers as alcohol.
My alcohol use was bad enough to seizures as part of the withdrawal, and when I asked the doctors and nurses about smoking cannabis for seizures, they laughed and said alcoholics can’t smoke weed. Instead, they gave me gabapentin which has side effects like increased risk of suicide, even though I was brought to the hospital because it was believed that I was suicidal.
So, from personal experience I can say that there’s more to marijuana for alcohol than meets the eye. And below are some studies that will help you see things from a clearer perspective.
To clearly understand how cannabis works as an alternative to alcohol use we have to dig a little deeper and look at the studies published in the past few years. So, here’s a study that was published in the Oxford Journal in 2014.
The study determined that medical cannabis may help to some extent but the results appear to be partially satisfied. For instance, to cite cannabis as an effective medicine to reduce alcohol use we have to take factors such as the severity of the problem, organ damage, and other individual-level reasons into consideration. Considering all the patterns, the study went on to say that cannabis does not fulfill every criterion clearly.
More vitally, the outcomes of cannabis substitution are still not clear. So, medical marijuana doctors recommending cannabis to alcohol-dependent individuals is a risk-driven call and more research is required to understand the role of cannabis in the lives of alcohol-reliant people.
That said, it's safe to say that cannabis does not necessarily qualify as a substitute for alcohol. However, in a study we are about to discuss below, cannabis is a clear winner. Here’s how.
This particular study was published by Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D. According to the author, 92 Northern Californian citizens received letters of approval for using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol.
After much contemplation and digging into the records of the 92 patients reviewed in this study, all 92 patients reported benefits after using cannabis. Also, indicating that the efficacy of cannabis is not so questionable. Even if cannabis use is regular, the replacement is not dangerous because cannabis has very few side effects compared to alcohol.
The answer to this question is quite tricky. And the debate regarding cannabis therapeutic potential has gone over for many years. Generally speaking, anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis is a safer alternative, but there’s a catch. You see, cannabis is still in its infancy and a lot of research is required to understand why people are warming up to the medicinal properties of cannabis.
To put things into a clearer perspective, here are some numbers that may end up surprising you. In a paper published by the University of Connecticut in 2017 alcohol sales reduced by 12.4% across US counties between 2006-2015. The dramatic change in alcohol use in the past few years has definitely managed to create a spurr but the question about cannabis legitimacy as a therapeutic agent is still being tested.
Related article: Is Marijuana Safer than Alcohol?
This has led to some urgency and given the fact that people already toute cannabis as a treatment for several ailments, the existing pieces of evidence are rather mixed. The only good news here is that cannabis legalization in various states and its rise in usage is not a surprise. So, a decrease in alcohol sales most likely points out that alcohol and cannabis use has a direct relation.
In another report from Cowen & Company, what looked like a nation that gulped alcohol excessively has now managed to indulge little in the activity. It seems that binge drinking is no more on the rise. States that have legalized cannabis showed a significant decline in alcohol sales. In particular states such as Washington and Colorado.
The report also went on to say that since 2016 the number for alcohol use has gone below the national average and states that have legalized both recreational and medical cannabis experienced 13% less alcohol use. Overall, all major cities and counties with legalized cannabis have reported lesser alcohol use. Moreover, the word on the street is that people have started spending dollars on a much safer alternative.
This means that consumers in legal states have already begun embracing the concept of using cannabis as a therapeutic and safer alternative. In what looked like a stigma, cannabis emerged victorious. However, until further research, medical supervision is a must. And those looking to treat alcoholism with cannabis below are some steps that will help you.
We all have a different mechanism - biochemistry that works in accordance with our body. Alcohol addiction obviously makes things worse, and cannabis might not be the only good option available. But those who seek cannabis to get rid of alcohol addiction must heed that cannabis may work some but not for others. So, choose wisely.
1. Start Slow: Quitting alcohol is not easy and cannabis can act as an alternative as long as you start slow. After all, cannabis is made of both non-psychoactive (CBD) and psychoactive (THC) compounds. Both these components have therapeutic effects. The outcome depends on the quantity you choose to consume.
For instance, a low dose (5mg per serving) of a cannabis edible should do the job. You can increase the dose as soon as you wean off alcohol, but for starters be patient and start as low as 5mg or 10mg per serving.
2. Register Your Experiences: Once you start consuming cannabis, start noticing the changes. Understand how the plant works for you because, during the initial days, you will suddenly enter the alcohol-withdrawal symptoms phase.
This phase is understandably difficult for people trying to quit alcohol. However, this is where cannabis comes in. it will help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms to some extent.
All you have to do is register every little change, note down the things happening to you, and then act accordingly. For instance, if you feel the withdrawal symptoms give you anxiety, consume products that are rich in CBD. For example, a full-spectrum CBD spectrum.
You can purchase these products from a local dispensary or order them online from trusted brands.
3. Use Cannabis as a Shield Not as a Habit: Always remember that you are moving from alcohol to cannabis. The purpose is to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Yes, cannabis is a safer alternative but you don't want to replace one addiction with another. So, watch how much you consume and stay away from any kind of dependencies.
4. Consume Cannabis in a Secure Place: Whenever you consume cannabis, choose an environment that makes you feel safe and sound. It could be your bedroom or the house of a friend you trust. A comfortable place will enable you to have a better experience.
For anyone who seeks a safer alternative to quit alcohol and fear that marijuana will make things worse, here are some examples that might help you make a wise choice. Rest assured, you can always go for an expert opinion first and then see what works out best for you.
The first example is a case study that was published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Two researchers namely D. Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees worked on the study and reported that legalization of marijuana has led to a wide decrease in beer sales, especially in the case of 18 to 29 years old individuals.
Not only this, but the authors also revealed that when it comes to posing marijuana as an alternative to alcohol, the good is news is that alcohol is way more dangerous than medical marijuana.
In fact, if we look at the latest trends, it is safe to say that more and more people are inclined towards consuming marijuana over alcohol. Here’s another example of a 25-year-old who used marijuana to overcome alcohol addiction symptoms. According to this individual, nothing worked as effectively as marijuana to help him get rid of alcoholism.
Even though these examples are based on personal experiences of people who looked at marijuana as an alternative, you should choose what’s best for you and always listen to what your body tells you.
So far, the findings, data, and reports give us a mixed signal. Some studies are in favor of using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol while others pose it as an immature alternative. As many things have positives and negatives so does cannabis for alcohol. The only exception, in this case, is the numbers that show how cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes has risen in the past few years.
So, it wouldn't be wrong to say that cannabis coupled with the absence of alcohol abuse further strengthens the prospect of cannabis in the near future. As once someone said, “slow and steady wins the race”, the cannabis industry, too, is taking small steps towards being touted as an effective alternative to alcohol and opioid