Marijuana use may cause alcohol dependency

Marijuana use may cause alcohol dependency

A recent study, published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that cannabis smokers are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD) compared to adults who do not use marijuana.

The study evaluated data from 27,461 adults who completed the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders. The adults first used marijuana at a time when they had no history of AUDs. They were then assessed at two separate points later on in the study.

“Our results suggest that cannabis use appears to be associated with an increased vulnerability to developing an alcohol use disorder, even among those without any history of this,” said Renee Goodwin, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, in a news release. “Marijuana use also appears to increase the likelihood that an existing alcohol use disorder will continue over time.”

Dr. Cynthia Gordon, a psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist with Advocate Addiction Treatment Program, believes that we need community-based and clinical programs to monitor this problem.

“Those using cannabis treatment programs should also be monitored for alcohol use. Education on the link between addictions should also be integrated into the program,” says Dr. Gordon.

According to the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, when people mix cannabis and alcohol together at one time, the results can be unpredictable. The effects of either drug may be more powerful, or the combination may produce different and unpredictable reactions. Among these reactions includes nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

“People sometimes try substituting one drug for another,” says Dr. Gordon. “Trying to cut back on one drug may end up in more use of the other drug to help manage the symptoms of reducing the first drug. For example, some people giving up cannabis may experience anxiety and take up drinking alcohol to help them relax and combat the anxiety. This type of drug use is dangerous and can result in a person having problems with both drugs instead of one.”

Dr. Gordon reminds people that you don’t have to go through addiction treatment alone. Consult with your physician for help and support or to learn more about Advocate’s Addiction Treatment Program by calling 847.795.3921.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.