Less Marijuana, More Booze Reported Among Pot Treatment Subjects, Study Says

Farmington, CT: Subjects undergoing treatment for so-called ‘marijuana dependence’ are likely to increase their consumption of alcohol, according to clinical trial data to be published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators at the University of Connecticut (U-Conn) Health Center assessed the use of alcohol and cannabis among 207 subjects who met the DSM-IV criteria for marijuana dependence. (Subjects in the study were not designated as alcohol dependent.) Researchers documented the subjects’ alcohol intake prior to undergoing marijuana treatment, and then again at 3-month intervals for one year.

Investigators reported: “On average, participants cut their marijuana use at least in half. At the same time, a considerable number increased their drinking by at least a small amount.”

Specifically, authors found that “73 percent of cases reported an increase of at least 10 percent in drinking days over their level at intake, and 65 percent reported an increase of at least 10 percent in drinks per drinking day.”

Nevertheless, authors noted that subjects’ increased drinking habits were not necessarily proportional to their decrease in cannabis use. “Drinking increases were not related to treatment condition or change in marijuana use, but were related to baseline drinking,” they wrote.

Following the completion of marijuana treatment, subjects’ “drinking levels remained fairly stable throughout the follow-up year,” investigators concluded.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Increased drinking in a trial of treatments for marijuana dependence,” will appear in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.