Cannabis May Be A Substitute For Alcohol, Study Says

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Cannabis May Be A Substitute For Alcohol, Study Says

Emeryville, CA: Preliminary data suggests that cannabis may be a substitute for alcohol consumption, according to a review published online in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

An investigator with the Alcohol Research Group conducted a literature review to assess whether cannabis satisfies the seven previously published criteria for substitute medications for alcohol.

The author reported that cannabis either satisfied or partially satisfied all except one of the criteria. However, the author acknowledged, "No study has prospectively examined, (a) whether individuals with alcohol use disorders can effectively use cannabis to help reduce drinking and (b) longer term problems and health economic outcomes among those who substitute."

The review concludes, "While more research and improved study designs are needed to better identify the extent and impact of cannabis substitution on those affected by AUD (alcohol use disorders), cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol. Perhaps more importantly, cannabis is both safer and potentially less addictive than benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals that have been evaluated as substitutes for alcohol."

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Health Economics reported that many adolescent consumers of cannabis increase their use of alcohol and decrease their use of marijuana shortly after turning 21 years of age. By contrast, separate studies of adult populations who possess legal access to cannabis have reported lower levels of alcohol consumption among respondents as compared to the general population.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Can cannabis be considered a substitute medication for alcohol?", appears in Alcohol and Alcoholism.