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Alcohol vs Weed: Which is Worse? Effects, Risks, Safety, etc

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Risks of moderate alcohol use

Celebrities like Bella Hadid, Blake Lively and Katy Perry have founded non-alcoholic beverage brands and championed the concept of sober social lifestyles that epitomize health over hedonism. “There’s always choices,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy watch out alcohol and anxiety expert at Stanford University, explained. 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.

Levels of Care in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

A recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the Scripps Research Institute in California investigated the effects of binge alcohol consumption upon the adolescent brain. Many recent studies have already demonstrated that adolescence is a time of increased vulnerability of the brain to chemical insults. Furthermore, to make this issue even more timely, binge alcohol consumption by teenagers is increasing. The neuroscientists at Scripps discovered that binge alcohol consumption is particularly injurious to a region of the brain called the hippocampus. Within the hippocampus are a group of cells that continually produce new brain cells, called neurons, throughout our life.

How Many Deaths Are Caused By Driving High?

They did find that recreational sales did not increase crash rates as much as the initial legalization did. Additionally, while you can have a cannabis overdose it’s not remotely fatal while an overdose of alcohol can cause lasting damage and even death. Weed is not without its pitfalls but alcohol is by far more problematic. Alcohol and cannabis are vastly different but often get lumped together because they are intoxicants. The way they make you feel may make them seem similar but their impact on your body and any lasting damage are not remotely the same. While being intoxicated with weed feels different than being intoxicated with alcohol, the two have roughly the same effect on your cognitive abilities, reflexes, and judgment.

When you drink heavily, it can impair your ability to create new memories. Over 50% of frequent binge drinkers reported at least one time in the past year when they blacked out and forgot where they were or what they did when they were drinking. 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. That means that you would have to smoke between 238 and 1,113 joints in a day to overdose on marijuana.

“There are segments of the population that want to bypass the entire process, grabbing this nugget of truth … and claiming smoking marijuana can be good for your health and have medical uses,” Baler said. Smoking marijuana interferes with connections being made in the brain “at a time when the brain should be at a clear state of mind, and accumulating, memory and data and good experiences that should be laying out the foundation for the future,” Baler said. Because marijuana can impair coordination and balance, there is the risk of hurting oneself, particularly if someone drives or chooses to have unprotected sex while their inhibitions are lowered, Baler said. These are two areas where people using marijuana could hurt themselves for the short and long term.

For example, in a recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans, respondents ranked alcohol as “somewhat and moderately addictive” compared to “not very or somewhat addictive” for marijuana. Studies show there may be a link between marijuana use during pregnancy and low birth weight. Despite marijuana being the most commonly used illegal drug during pregnancy, it’s hard to tell what the effect of marijuana use is, since there are not many studies out there. Controversy remains over what percentage of psychosis risk can be linked to marijuana use and how much depends on a person’s genetics. When both alcohol and drugs are in the system, the risk of having a fatal car accident is especially high.

Alcohol has been legal significantly longer compared to cannabis and some of these stigmas can impact people’s judgment about cannabis use. Binge drinking is behavior that raises blood alcohol levels to 0.08%. That usually means four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information. People’s responses to each substance can vary greatly, so what seems safer for one person might not work for someone else. While one person might feel relaxed while drunk, another might feel restless.

For men, heavy drinking means more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week. In the past, moderate drinking was thought to be linked with a lower risk of dying from heart disease and possibly diabetes. After more analysis of the research, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In general, a healthy diet and physical activity have much greater health benefits than alcohol and have been more extensively studied. For example, any amount of drinking increases the risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The harm score for marijuana would also likely rise after legalization, but probably not too much since pot use is already widespread. Even if two drugs score similarly in Nutt’s analysis, the underlying variables behind the scores can be completely different. For instance, heroin and crack cocaine are fairly close in the rankings. But heroin scores much higher for mortality risk, while crack poses a much bigger risk for mental impairment.

Tishler emphasizes that understanding addiction is nuanced, and it can be helpful to distinguish addiction from dependence. Here we present both sides of the debate so you can decide for yourself. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. There psilocybin magic mushrooms uses effects & hazards are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. “Researchers are working around the clock to try to identify the ingredients in marijuana that have potential,” to benefit human health, Baler said.

  1. Many of the issues have to do with legality and preconceived judgment of cannabis.
  2. If you do get hungover, you might experience other effects, including headaches and diarrhea.
  3. Both weed and alcohol temporarily impair memory, and alcohol can cause blackouts by rendering the brain incapable of forming memories.
  4. But if you’re sensitive to weed or don’t have much experience using it, it’s best to avoid mixing the two.

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. Finding the best method to evaluate the risks of drugs is much more complicated than assigning numeric rankings. Although drug policy experts generally don’t dispute the assertion that alcohol is more dangerous than pot, the study, led by British researcher David Nutt, is quite controversial. Experts see the rankings as deeply flawed, largely because they present the harms that come from drugs in a rather crude, one-dimensional manner. 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. That study has drawn widespread media attention, appearing in outlets like the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New Republic, and here at Vox.

But scientists have had a hard time deciphering whether excessive alcohol use causes depression and anxiety or whether people with depression and anxiety drink in an attempt to relieve those symptoms. The degree to which weed or alcohol is addictive–or harmful–cannot be reduced to a single factor. While there’s evidence that weed is comparatively less addictive and less harmful than overcoming alcohol addiction alcohol, that doesn’t mean it can be used recklessly. Similar to cannabis, a number of variables means some individuals may be more likely to become addicted to alcohol than others. Factors such as genetics, a family history of alcoholism, mental health disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, and traumatic experiences elevate the likelihood of developing an addiction.

Over time, it can temporarily decrease the prevalence of CB1 receptors which can cause memory issues but, overall, the compounds in cannabis including many of the terpenes can be neuroprotective. This means that they can help protect nerve cells from damage which can decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Cannabis can affect your ability to pay attention, memory, and decision-making.

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