By now, you have probably heard the debate about whether cannabis or alcohol is worse for your health. Many people enjoy both, both have many different laws surrounding them, and both are a lot of fun. But what are the facts about these two substances? What is worse, cannabis or alcohol?
Lots of people have decided to stop drinking alcohol and start using cannabis instead. Why? Weed may not be as damaging to the health as alcohol is. According to many studies, it is far less damaging to your health. But do people prefer alcohol or cannabis? Could switching be for you?
Cannabis vs Alcohol
Substituting Weed for Alcohol
One of the arguments made in support of substituting weed for alcohol is that it's easier to switch over to something else than to abstain from something altogether. If you're looking for something to replace your alcohol intake for health reasons, it is worth noting that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco in a lot of ways.
There are a few ways to stop drinking alcohol, and marijuana management is one of them. Marijuana management programs have proven beneficial for people trying to abstain from alcohol. In fact, they are possibly just as much or even more valuable than those trying to quit cold turkey or who tried a program like AA. Marijuana management, sometimes called marijuana maintenance, can even have some health benefits that you might not expect. It's often used for pain relief, improving your mood, and more. These things can help anyone, but especially a heavy drinker who is trying to quit.
Of course, it's hard to wrap your mind around marijuana being used for health benefits when we've all been hearing about its harm to society for decades. Indeed, marijuana has had a bad rap. However, many of these stereotypes and laws are based on demonizing messages rather than facts. Meanwhile, the negative health effects of alcohol are exceptionally well documented.
It might help to answer the question, does alcohol or cannabis suppress the immune system more? We all know booze is bad for us, but we keep drinking it! So why not try a healthier alternative? Your liver will thank you.
Of course, switching from alcohol to marijuana is not automatically going to solve all your problems if you're trying to quit drinking. However, occasionally switching to weed instead of booze will do your body a bit of a favor. To take a closer look at this issue, let's check out some of the pros and cons of whether cannabis or alcohol is the better choice.
The Benefits of Marijuana
Because cannabis has been under-researched in the modern age, we still have a lot to learn. There are many documented benefits to marijuana, both medical and otherwise. Part of the reason is that marijuana has existed for a long time. People have been using cannabis in some form for thousands of years – so clearly, there must be some benefit, right? Of course, that doesn't automatically mean that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Let's check out some of the benefits so you can see for yourself.
- First of all, some impressive and comprehensive studies have shown marijuana to be very helpful in the relief of chronic pain. Whether that is muscle pain, regular daily aches and pains, chronic migraines, or something else, it can help improve someone's daily quality of life.
- Weed also has some well-documented benefits for people who suffer from depression, PTSD, social anxiety, and other related problems.
- People who have cancer and are being treated with chemotherapy might be suffering from nausea and a lack of appetite. Marijuana can help with nausea and stimulates the appetite.
- Perhaps the most clear-cut example of cannabis' benefit is with seizures and related disorders, like epilepsy.
- Another common ailment marijuana has shown to help with is osteoarthritis or OA. Some studies indicate it might slow down the breakdown of cartilage between joints. It could also help with rheumatoid arthritis pain quite a bit.
- Cannabis also helps many people fall asleep at night, relieving issues people have with insomnia.
It might look like a lot of benefits, but that's really only a small selection of the long list of possible uses for people with many different diseases, symptoms, and other issues.
Of course, those are only medical benefits. There are plenty more non-medical benefits for people, such as improving creativity and a general feeling of relaxation and well-being when you use it. It also has societal benefits, including the economic side, with tons of tax revenue if it's legalized and even reduced rates of traffic accidents. This last one is thought to be because people were substituting weed for alcohol, but of course, it's still not a good idea to drive after smoking weed.
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The Benefits of Alcohol
While the list of benefits for alcohol can't compare to the list of marijuana benefits that we saw above, it would be unfair to claim there are no benefits to drinking alcohol. Let's look at some of them now. Keep in mind that these benefits really only apply when alcohol is used in moderation, so heavy drinking will never have a positive health effect.
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of one drink per day for women and a maximum of two per day for men. That doesn't mean someone can drink seven drinks one day and abstain for the rest of the days for the health benefits: it's a daily maximum!
That said, here are the benefits that can come with drinking alcohol in moderation.
- First of all, it can increase the "good" cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease in both men and women. This could tack on a couple of years to your life. The "risk of death" can actually be reduced by 18% if alcohol is consumed in small amounts with food.
- Along with marijuana, alcohol can also improve your libido, especially in men. In fact, one studied indicated that the chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction were decreased by as much as 30% in people who drink alcohol.
- The moderate drinking of alcohol can also lower the chances of getting a common cold or even dementia. Moderate amounts of alcohol kind of "toughen up" brain cells, allowing them to be more prepared for future stressors that could lead to dementia.
- Alcohol can also lower the chances of developing diabetes or gallstones.
Besides these physical, medical benefits, there are other more social reasons people like to keep drinking alcohol. It's one of the more common beverages to have while celebrating, for example, and it can be a great way to wind down at the end of the day. Alcohol can help temporarily numb pain and often give people an increased appetite, which is beneficial to some people.
It is important to note that it is rarely (if ever) recommended that non-drinkers become regular drinkers because of these health benefits. Additionally, there are simply fewer benefits overall than what's known about marijuana consumption. Often, when deciding which one to do, the decision simply comes to: do people prefer alcohol or cannabis? Some people just like alcohol more, so they keep using alcohol instead of cannabis, despite the latter's health benefits.
Related: How To Get Higher Smoking Weed
The Drawbacks of Marijuana
Of course, while it has many medical and other benefits, not everything is perfect with using marijuana. There are some drawbacks that people who are thinking about switching from alcohol to weed need to consider before using it.
If you smoke weed that has THC, you will likely get "high" from it. This might be why people use it, of course, but it also can be a drawback for people who don't want their feelings and thoughts to be altered while using it. It also means you shouldn't drive a car after using cannabis.
Some people find that the high is less pleasant than they would like. Sometimes anxiety or paranoia can come with it, which often is a problem with the strain being consumed, but not always. Your judgment may be inhibited as well.
There is some evidence that a small percentage of people can get psychologically addicted to marijuana, though it doesn’t create any physical dependency. This is about 10% of users, so if you're not careful, it's possible you could find yourself addicted to it. People who start younger are more likely to develop this problem and using it every day also increases the chances. That said, it is not as addictive in the medical sense as alcohol has proven to be, so in that way, it could still be a safer alternative.
Short-term mental issues are possible for about a day after smoking marijuana. Your brain might feel muddled, causing you to forget or learn new things. This is temporary and generally wears off after a day.
If you're smoking marijuana (rather than eating edible cannabis or using another method), it could inflame your lungs. People who smoke cannabis very regularly could see some of the same lung issues that tobacco smokers have. Other possible drawbacks include getting hungrier (which is not ideal for people wanting to lose weight), and it could make your heart work harder, possibly increasing the chance of heart attack or stroke.
Related: Best Ways To Smoke Without A Pipe
The Drawbacks of Alcohol
Many of the risks and drawbacks of alcohol are already well-known to many. Let's go through them here anyway, as they're important to consider when deciding between alcohol and marijuana for your ideal substance.
First of all, drinking alcohol can reduce inhibitions and make people lose self-control, both physically and mentally or emotionally. Secondly, the liver damage caused by drinking alcohol is clearly studied; it can cause a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, or cirrhosis. Many other organs are affected as well, including the brain, heart, and stomach.
Too much alcohol in one day or regularly drinking over a long period can lead to heart issues like irregular heartbeat, cardiomyopathy, stroke, or high blood pressure. Pancreatitis has also been shown to sometimes be caused by alcohol consumption, mainly because the pancreas produces toxic substances after a person drinks alcohol.
In terms of actual diseases, many are connected to alcohol consumption. This includes different types of cancer, such as liver cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, and esophageal cancer.
The immune system is also affected by alcohol. It is weakened when one consumes it (especially if you don't drink in moderation), leading your body to be susceptible to many different diseases, including more serious ones like pneumonia or tuberculosis. This is more likely for people who drink quite regularly, as opposed to people who have an occasional drink. Still, your immune system is weakened for about a day after drinking. This helps provide an answer to the question: does alcohol or cannabis depress the immune system more?
Other issues associated with alcohol include obesity and nerve damage. Of course, perhaps most importantly, alcohol addiction is a major problem that can happen to anyone. Besides being problematic for basic quality of life, this chronic drinking leads to a dramatic increase in the chance of developing any of the above-listed risks.
Finally, unlike marijuana, drinking too much alcohol can cause an overdose and death. Alcohol toxicity can be caused either by acute alcohol poisoning (from too much drinking in one day) or chronic alcohol poisoning (drinking too much alcohol over long periods).
Related: Overcoming Opioid Addiction With Cannabis
Addiction can be an issue for both marijuana and alcohol, but it is not equally risky. From the side of marijuana, part of the concern is the fact that THC levels have been rising as strains are becoming more fine-tuned. Minors who start using marijuana have a higher chance (1-in-6 chance) of developing a marijuana habit, and 1-in-10 adults could form a habit. Overdosing is less of a risk for addicts with marijuana, as there are no documented cases of someone dying from a marijuana overdose.
Alcohol addiction can kill, however. Additionally, getting over alcohol addiction is a life-long endeavor; a person never stops being addicted to alcohol. Instead, they must learn to control their thoughts and actions and avoid alcohol altogether. There are many resources for treating alcohol addiction, partly because each individual needs to find their own treatment plan that works for them. There is no one form of treatment that works for everybody.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is unfortunately prevalent in the United States, despite the substance being more widely legalized than marijuana. In the US alone, more than 14 million people have this disorder. If you're looking to find a clear answer for What is worse, cannabis or alcohol? Then looking at the addiction statistics alone might just do the trick.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which Is Really Worse For Your Health?
This is a debatable question, however long-term effects of drinking heavily are well known. "Excess alcohol can have severe consequences" on the other hand long term effects of marijuana are not yet known.
Is Marijuana More Addictive Than Alcohol?
Free availability plays an important role here, Since alcohol is available freely everywhere and anyone can easily access it around the world, It makes it more addictive. However marijuana is getting popularity now and it will soon be available freely.
Alcohol or Weed: Which One Is A Cheaper Choice?
Weed is a cheaper option for sure, and in the future when weed will be available freely it will become even more cheaper.