Could smoking pot really be associated with alcoholism? One study says yes: Marijuana smokers are up to five times as likely to have an alcohol use disorder as those who do not use the drug.
Marijuana Smokers & Alcoholism
A look at the data
In the early 2000s, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted a massive study – the largest of its kind in fact. They called it the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, or NESARC for short.
NESARC surveyed 27,461 adults with the objective of studying comorbidity, the occurrence of more than one psychological disorder or substance use disorder in the same person. The study explored a variety of factors, including consumption patterns and experiences with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.
The new study
Using data collected from the NESARC study, a new group analyzed the findings to learn if there was an association between marijuana use and alcoholism. They looked at two different time points in the study: adults who did not have an alcohol use problem and had used marijuana at the beginning of the study (“first assessment”), and those who had used marijuana over the course of the following three years.
What they found is that those who used marijuana at the first assessment. And continued to use marijuana throughout the three-year follow-up period were five times as likely to develop an alcohol use problem compared with those who didn’t use marijuana.
What’s more, those adults who did have an alcohol use problem at the first assessment were significantly more likely to be in recovery from their alcoholism when they did not use cannabis.
In a release about the study, Renee Goodwin, one of the coauthors, said that the data suggests there is an association between drinking problems and smoking pot. “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.”
Renee went on to say that more research is needed to understand the connection. And to assess how to help those at higher risk of developing disorders. “From a public health standpoint we recommend that further research be conducted. So as to understand the pathways underlying these relationships. As well as the degree to which various potentially vulnerable population subgroups – youth, for example – are at increased risk.”
Getting help for a substance abuse disorder
Always, marijuana use is considered a harmless pastime. And legalization across some states is reinforcing the notion that it’s completely safe. But like alcohol – which is also legal for adults of age – it can be a destructive habit. Some people can become easily dependent, and for others it can exacerbate existing conditions. And even cause people to develop new disorders like alcoholism, as this study shows.
In conclusion. if you’re struggling to quit smoking pot. Or if you’re dealing with alcoholism – or both – don’t go it alone. The Watershed can help. Even if you’re not looking for yourself, give us a call. We help people every day to get the care they need to overcome addiction. Don’t spend another day wasted. Call: 1-800-861-1768.Tags: Alcoholism, effects of marijuana