substance use disorder

Alcohol and Cannabis: Is One Really Worse Than The Other?

The question of which is worse, alcohol or cannabis, has become more common as more states legalize cannabis. There are many factors to consider in this conversation, such as:

  • Individual biology
  • Variety of products
  • Lack of research

Studies have shown that both alcohol and cannabis have long- and short-term effects on the body, like:

  • Inhibited coordination and reflexes
  • Impaired judgement
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches

Here is what you need to know about alcohol and cannabis:

Alcohol Has Been Linked To Thousands Of Deaths Per Year

People, including teens, drink to de-stress or feel good, and can be pressured into drinking.

Excessive alcohol use has been linked to over 95,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to the CDC. Alcohol is also more likely to interact negatively with prescription medications. Alcohol use has also been linked to long-term illnesses with serious health consequences like liver disease.

Alcohol use disorder is an unfortunately common problem in the United States, with over 14 million people affected annually.

Research Into Cannabis Is Still In Infancy

When it comes to research into cannabis, we know little compared to the thousands of studies done on alcohol. While that is changing, there are still lots of questions that need to be answered, particularly on the long-term effects of cannabis on the lungs and risks and benefits of cannabis used for medical purposes.

There are several reasons why it’s so difficult to research cannabis use and its effects:

  • Regulatory and supply barriers: The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance hinders research into its effects, making it difficult for researchers to get cannabis for research.
  • Funding limitations: Research requires diverse funding. Not only does regulation prevent access to studies, but it can limit funding that then prevents research.
  • Methodological challenges: There is no standardization in research methodology, such as how to administer the drug to study participants in a way that is accepted by them.

Cannabis Use Can Lead To Cannabis Use Disorder

Just like alcohol, not everyone’s body responds to cannabis the same way—especially since there are different ways to consume cannabis, ranging from smoking and vaping to edible consumption. Cannabis use disorder is often associated with other substance use disorders and behavioral problems and can go largely untreated.

Symptoms of cannabis use disorder include withdrawing from social, school, or work life and responsibilities and an inability to stop using.

When Used Together, Alcohol & Cannabis Can Severely Impair Judgement

On their own alcohol and cannabis can certainly be misused, and simultaneous use can enhance the effect of intoxication. In a 2020 study it was found that “young adults drank more alcohol on (simultaneous alcohol and cannabis use) days compared to alcohol-only days (with no cannabis use).”

Be Aware Of The Dangers Of Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabis is a man-made product that has been treated with chemicals related to THC but is stronger and more dangerous. This product is shredded and dried plant material that is sometimes sold as “incense” and is commonly smoked or swallowed. It is generally sold legally, and since it is not sold for consumption it does not need FDA approval or any sort of study on the effects of consumption, despite that being the primary use of consumers.

Get The Most Up-To-Date Information From PreventEd

At PreventEd, we are committed to bringing the public the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding substance use, be it alcohol, cannabis, or opioids.

PreventEd is a leader in the field of substance and alcohol use prevention programs. If you or a loved one struggles with cannabis or alcohol use, reach out to a PreventEd counselor today. We are ready to answer your questions and guide you to the help you need.

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