How Cannabis Can Help To Quit Drinking
2 min

How Cannabis Can Help To Quit Drinking

2 min

The use of alcohol is ingrained within our society, and a pleasure enjoyed by many. However, for those wanting to cut down, the road can be tricky. Cannabis may have the answer.

To those who do not regularly enjoy the pleasures cannabis has to offer, replacing the use of one drug with another may seem counter-intuitive, or even redundant. However, switching out a harmful drug, like alcohol, with one that possesses next to no danger has many advantages, and more and more people are beginning to agree.

As cannabis becomes more accepted and widespread throughout society, more uses are being found for it. There are now a growing number of people who have struggled with alcoholism, and even just general over drinking, that are now finding solace in marijuana use. Although I have never personally had a reliance on alcohol consumption, it is easy to see why so many could make the transition. Just like alcohol, cannabis can effectively relieve stress, help us unwind, and allow the burdens of the day to float away. The thing is, cannabis does this without the gut-wrenching, headaches, grogginess, and general hangover nastiness the next day. And the big kicker: there is no risk of physiological addiction the way there is with alcohol – no shakes, cold sweats, insomnia, or nausea as the body craves for more.

It is a substitution that seems obvious in hindsight, yet has been hard for many to see – largely due to the myths surrounding cannabis. Until very recently, mainstream society thought cannabis was much more harmful than alcohol, and hurt both body and mind in irreparable ways. It has taken science quite a while to break down these walls and get to the crux of what cannabis is all about. Now that prohibition is beginning to crumble, and the lies that came with it, more research is actually finding, that if anything, cannabis is an effective exit drug.

A recent study into the use of medical marijuana found that the great majority of patients were using cannabis as an alternative to either prescription medicines, alcohol, or other illicit substance; all because it got them to the same place, but without any of the nasty side effects, addiction or risk of death.

Although cannabis can be an extremely relaxing and sociable experience, some can find it to be the opposite, causing anxiety. It is another reason that people often dismiss cannabis out of hand, or are slow to consider it as an alternative. However, not all cannabis is the same. It is often strains with high amounts of THC and little CBD that cause states of anxiety. A strain with a high CBD content can help balance out the effects, opening the way up for those who thought it was not a possibility.


So, cannabis is an effective substitute, but why? It is not simply replacing high A with high B; sure high B may be safer, but there is more at work here. As mentioned, alcohol can help us relax and be sociable in a similar way, which is going to make it appealing for moderate drinkers, but for heavy drinkers, there are withdrawals to contend with. Fortunately, the withdrawals I mentioned earlier, such as nausea, trouble sleeping, and tremors, are all things cannabis is pretty effective at treating. It gives those who are actively trying to give up drinking a milder substance with an active release from these withdrawals, without replacing them with others.

There is also the notion that cannabis makes us more mindful of our harmful habits. It allows us to assess the factors – which we would otherwise ignore – that enable their use. It can help those with a drinking problem actively break the hold of these factors. This is a notion believed by many scientists, such as Amanda Reiman, manager of the Marijuana Law and Policy Alliance, and author of the study Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs.

I am not saying that marijuana is a miracle cure, and that one joint will instantly break a reliance on alcohol or help you cut down. The point of this article is to highlight the idea and evidence - both scientific and anecdotal - that cannabis can help people make a conscious change from a harmful substance to one with a relatively low risk – changing lives for the better. There needs to be a willing and active desire to change for the better, but cannabis has real power to enable this.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
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