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What is the Connection Between Alcoholism and Marijuana?

D. Poupon
D. Poupon

Alcoholism is a destructive disease with causes that are not totally understood. Effective treatment for alcoholism varies from person to person, although abstinence is generally regarded as the best solution. The insidious nature of alcoholism makes abstinence very difficult for certain individuals, and so some people propose marijuana as a substitute for alcohol. Nonetheless, marijuana does not treat alcoholism causes, and can create other problems for the user.

Marijuana and alcohol share many characteristics, which may be one reason that they are potential substitutes for one another. Both are mood-altering and can cause feelings of euphoria. One study indicates that teenage alcoholism rates are affected by the prices of beer and marijuana, because these substances are consumed interchangeably. Both are addictive, in the sense that some people have difficulties with controlling alcoholism and marijuana use, leading them to seek help.

Marijuana and alcohol affect mood and can create euphoric feelings.
Marijuana and alcohol affect mood and can create euphoric feelings.

Alcoholism and marijuana abuse may manifest themselves very differently. One of the prominent signs of alcoholism and binge drinking is violent, angry behavior, whereas heavy marijuana users tend to be more isolated and depressive. There are many overt physical symptoms of alcohol abuse such as tremors, upset stomachs and jaundice. The impact of marijuana consumption is less obvious and rarely fatal. Finally, in most countries alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal, even if personal use of marijuana is tolerated under certain circumstances.

Smoking marijuana is typically done in a clandestine manner.
Smoking marijuana is typically done in a clandestine manner.

Proponents of marijuana as a substitute for alcohol often consider marijuana the lesser of two evils. Some people think of it as temporary means of alcohol detoxification, easing the way to abstinence. Others think that marijuana has less harmful side effects and is this a safer alternative to heavy drinking for those who cannot quit altogether. These beliefs are not supported by medical experts.

Proponents of legalizing marijuana point to statistics that show that marijuana is a lesser evil than alcohol.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana point to statistics that show that marijuana is a lesser evil than alcohol.

Unfortunately many people who are tormented by alcoholism cannot be satisfied by occasional or temporary use of marijuana. For them, marijuana use is simply a substitution of one self-medication for another, masking the symptoms without addressing the cause of the disease. Heavy marijuana use can cause problems at work and at school because it impairs reflexes, may inhibit learning, and can cause memory lapses. Even occasional use can cause problems since marijuana is illegal in many countries. Both alcoholism and marijuana use can wreak havoc in someone's life.

It is best to seek alcoholism counseling in order to find treatment solutions that best fit personal circumstances. Anonymous twelve-step groups exist for both alcoholism and marijuana addictions, and can help achieve complete abstinence from mood altering drugs. Drug and alcohol treatment centers can offer other long term alcohol recovery solutions.

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    • Marijuana and alcohol affect mood and can create euphoric feelings.
      By: Joshua Resnick
      Marijuana and alcohol affect mood and can create euphoric feelings.
    • Smoking marijuana is typically done in a clandestine manner.
      By: Wrangler
      Smoking marijuana is typically done in a clandestine manner.
    • Proponents of legalizing marijuana point to statistics that show that marijuana is a lesser evil than alcohol.
      By: janifest
      Proponents of legalizing marijuana point to statistics that show that marijuana is a lesser evil than alcohol.