Author: James Anderson

Marijuana vs Alcohol: Which Is Really Worse for Your Health?

what is worse weed or alcohol

“The main risk of cannabis is losing control of your cannabis intake,” Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at UCLA, said. “That’s going to have consequences in terms of the amount of time you spend not fully functional. When that’s hours per day times years, that’s bad.” Nutt acknowledges these problems, but argues that his analysis provides value to policymakers.

what is worse weed or alcohol

So heroin would be at or near the top for mortality, alcohol would be at or near the top for cause of violent crime, and tobacco would be at the top for long-term health risks. The idea is lawmakers could look at this model to help decide on an individual basis which policies are better for each drug. The research on other health effects of marijuana is inconclusive but should warrant some caution.

Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.

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. Research on whether smoked marijuana causes lung disease or cancer has yielded conflicting results, with studies that control for tobacco smoking finding no significant effect from marijuana on lung cancer risk. It’s a commonly held belief that smoking weed has fewer negative health effects than drinking alcohol, especially now that marijuana is legal in New York and many other states across the country.

  1. The way you consume weed can have a big impact on its short- and long-term effects.
  2. Getting drunk or high can feel similar to some people, while others describe the sensations as very different.
  3. Weed can also trigger temporary feelings of paranoia and hostility, but it’s not yet clear whether those symptoms are linked with an increased risk of long-term psychosis.
  4. “Researchers are working around the clock to try to identify the ingredients in marijuana that have potential,” to benefit human health, Baler said.

In this time of information overabundance, much of which is inaccurate, unhelpful, or even difficult to understand, Northwell Health is on a mission to make a difference as an honest, trusted, and caring partner. The site connects with consumers to provide them with personalized content that reduces their stress, makes them laugh, and ultimately feel more confident and capable on their healthcare journey. A small percentage of adolescents drink to cope (e.g., to forget about troubles), and these people are more likely to drink alone, develop drinking problems, or overuse alcohol. This is particularly true for adolescents and young adults, whose brains are still maturing.

Behavioral Addiction in the Brain: Types and Treatment

Heavy drug use is never ideal — and marijuana is no different in this regard.

The drug policy experts I talked to about Nutt’s study generally agreed that his style of analysis and ranking misses some of the nuance behind the harm of certain drugs. Since the 1960s, the strength or potency of THC—the psychoactive element in marijuana that causes the “high”—has continuously increased. Between 1995 and 2018, the average THC concentration in marijuana leaves more than quadrupled, rising from 3.96 percent to 15.61 percent. Marijuana is the most widely used addictive substance after alcohol and nicotine. Marijuana addiction can be both physically and psychologically addictive, wreaking havoc on a person’s life.

There’s also this perception that it’s extremely rare to get addicted to marijuana, but that’s a myth. There’s research to show that 30% of people who use marijuana are going to develop an addiction problem. Addiction is not about the amount of a substance that you drink or smoke. It’s about what it does to your life and the consequences you deal with because of that behavior.

Drug experts broadly agree that individuals and society would arguably be better off if marijuana became the most accepted recreational intoxicant of choice instead of alcohol. The individual scores account for a host of variables, including mortality, dependence, drug-related family adversities, environmental damage, and effect on crime. The Well is Northwell Health’s commitment to the future of health care.

Alcohol and marijuana Can both Be Addictive

A rising number of doctors, on the other hand, are prescribing it to treat specific medical disorders and symptoms. Marijuana users were also more likely than alcohol drinkers to indicate they used the drug when they were bored or wanted a creative boost. When discussing the genesis of substance use and misuse, as well as when advocating behavior change, the self-reported reasons for why people use alcohol and marijuana may be particularly crucial to understand. Drinking too much, whether in a single occurrence or over time, has been found to affect the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas, as well as cause cancer in many forms. Higher potency is also linked to more severe dependence and a higher risk of developing psychosis and anxiety disorders in teens.

“I believe we have provided the best currently available analysis of an extremely complex multifaceted data set.” Research shows that nearly 90% of Americans have used alcohol at some point or another. Less than 50% of Americans have even tried marijuana, and a much smaller percentage are using it on a regular basis. So the sheer numbers of people showing up in the ER after smoking pot are going to be a lot less than for alcohol. However, having worked in ERs since pot was legalized, I can tell you that people who smoke weed are showing up a lot more now than in the past, and those numbers are climbing.

The prevalence of binge drinking has risen steadily in the United States, despite the fact that social media and even real-life social gatherings have done a good job of taming it. More and more young people are turning away from alcohol, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Alcohol has more far-reaching consequences because it is consumed by so many more people, but marijuana is worse when it comes to its direct impact on brain aging. The bottom line in terms of brain health and overall well-being is to eliminate or reduce the use of both these substances.

If given the choice, over two-thirds of marijuana users would vote to make it legal. Sixty-two percent of non-pot smokers would prefer that alcohol be made legal instead. Drinking alcohol, like a weed, has severe short-and long-term consequences. Keep in mind that there are dozens of factors to account for when comparing the health effects of alcohol and marijuana, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked. People’s public behavior was more important to them than their addiction, attractiveness, or health, even if it was only a minor issue for both men and women.

The question policy experts typically ask isn’t which drug is more dangerous, but how marijuana and alcohol should be treated through policy as individual drugs with their own set of unique, complicated risks. That doesn’t mean just legalization or prohibition, but regulation, taxes, and education as well. But how much does all of this information really tell policymakers or the public? It would matter if marijuana ends up substituting alcohol once pot is legalized (since a safer substance would be replacing a more dangerous one), but the research on that is still early. And the argument that alcohol is more dangerous than illegal substances could be used as a basis for banning or strictly regulating alcohol just as easily as it could be used as a basis for legalizing or decriminalizing other drugs.

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While both are intoxicants used recreationally, their legality, patterns of use and long-term effects on the body make the two drugs difficult to compare. The analysis doesn’t fully account for a drug’s legality, accessibility, or how widely a drug is used. 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.