Author: James Anderson

Alcohol vs Marijuana: Is One Safer Than the Other?

alcohol vs weed

Cannabis also has health and medical benefits which include reducing pain, improving sexual libido, treating inflammation, easing symptoms of Lyme disease and acting as neuroprotectants. Public health researchers have said studying rates of injuries, accidents, mental illness and teen use in the wake of the new laws will lead to a better understanding of marijuana’s public health effects. Unlike alcohol, Baler said, the effects of chronic marijuana use are not as well established. Animal studies have indicated some possible impact on reproduction. Additionally, there is evidence marijuana can worsen psychiatric issues for people who are predisposed to them, or bring them on at a younger age. Finally, Baler said, because the drug is typically smoked, it can bring on bronchitis, coughing and chronic inflammation of the air passages.

THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is almost instantly absorbed and quickly reaches high blood concentration after inhalation through the lungs. During the early stages of drinking, the brain releases more of the “feel good” chemical dopamine. This chemical surge provides temporary relief from negative emotions and can produce increased confidence, sociableness, relaxation or elation. You might not think marijuana and quizzes go together, but on the assumption that you arrived at this quiz sober, we pose some serious questions that will require your utmost attention and critical thinking skills. People’s responses to each substance can vary greatly, so what seems safer for one person might not work for someone else. Both can also leave you feeling a bit worse for wear the next day, though this is more likely to happen with alcohol.

alcohol vs weed

In the later stages, drunkenness can generate a combination of blurred vision, delayed judgment, lack of coordination, emotional instability and high excitability. As BAC rises, alcohol users can segue from excitement to confusion and even a blackout state where consciousness is temporarily lost. Euphoric effects generally kick in within the first 10 to 15 minutes and are correlated with transient changes in the brain’s electroencephalographic activity (EEG) activity. Essentially, as blood alcohol content (BAC) rises, marked changes can be seen in the electrical activity of the brain. After being absorbed through the lining of the stomach into the bloodstream, it spreads into tissues throughout the body and reaches the brain in about five minutes, according to Northwestern Medicine.

When to Seek Help for Excessive Drinking

This makes the task of building scientific drug policies very challenging. Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University, gave the example of an alien race visiting Earth and asking which land animal is the biggest. If the question is about weight, the African elephant is the biggest land animal.

alcohol vs weed

And if the question is about length, the reticulated python is the biggest. In comparison, the number of deaths caused by marijuana is almost zero. A study found that a fatal dose of TCH, the potent chemical in marijuana, would be between 15 and 70 grams. To give you an idea of how much marijuana that is, consider that a typical joint contains about half a gram of marijuana.

The messy legal drama impacting the Bravo universe, explained

Getting drunk or high can feel similar to some people, while others describe the sensations as very different. Of course, the way you feel when you’re intoxicated also depends on how much of the substance you consume. For example, one person may have a very low tolerance for weed but be able to tolerate alcohol well. Another person might not have any issues with misusing alcohol but still find it hard to function without weed. All of this helps prove that marijuana isn’t totally harmless — and some of its risks are likely unknown. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information.

On the surface, weed appears to be safer, but there’s simply not enough evidence to declare a winner. It’s also important to remember that there aren’t many high-quality, long-term studies on weed and its effects. The immediate effects of weed can vary quite a bit from person to person. Weed may appear to be safer than alcohol simply because we aren’t yet aware of certain risks.

  1. This may seem like a petty academic squabble, but it’s quite important as researchers and lawmakers try to advance more scientific approaches to drug policy.
  2. In comparison, the number of deaths caused by marijuana is almost zero.
  3. Health risks are just one way to measure whether marijuana is safer than alcohol.
  4. All of this helps prove that marijuana isn’t totally harmless — and some of its risks are likely unknown.
  5. One study linked the use of potent marijuana to psychotic disorders, but other studies suggest people with psychotic disorders may be predisposed to pot use.

But just about any substance can be addictive11—even seemingly harmless ones like caffeine or ibuprofen. Alcohol and marijuana use are both socially acceptable, and they can both be dangerous. That’s a complicated question—partly because “safety” means something different for everyone. No matter how safe a substance seems, addiction is always possible. Similarly, the THC in cannabis causes an increase in levels of dopamine in the brain and this motivates people to keep using it.

Binge and heavy drinking also play a significant role in developing alcohol use disorder. For many people, it’s perfectly safe to have a drink or 2 with friends on occasion. But if you’re getting drunk every day, or blacking out every time you go to the bar, you may be more vulnerable to addiction.

Alcohol and Weed: Cut From the Same Cloth?

There is no known medical use for consumed alcohol, but there are health benefits observed in moderate drinkers, including lower rates of cardiovascular disease and possibly fewer colds, Murray said. But cigarette smoking plays a complicated role in studying the impact of marijuana smoke, Baler said. Marijuana smokers tend to smoke much less than cigarette smokers, as some may smoke one joint a few times a week. It’s possible to develop an emotional and/or physical dependence on both substances. There probably isn’t a perfect way to evaluate and present all drug harms. Researchers will always need to balance making information simple and accessible for policymakers and the public with the inherent complexity of drugs and their effects.

If heroin and crack were legal and more accessible, they would very likely rank higher than alcohol. The harm score for marijuana would also likely rise after legalization, but probably not too much since pot use is already widespread. Perhaps the biggest supporting evidence for this point is a 2010 study published in The Lancet that ranked alcohol as the most dangerous drug in the United Kingdom, surpassing heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana.