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Is cannabis or alcohol more addictive?

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There is a common perception that cannabis is safer and less addictive than alcohol. For example, in a file recent study Of the more than 1,000 Americans, respondents rated alcohol as “moderately and moderately addictive” compared to “not somewhat addictive or somewhat addictive” to marijuana.

In addition, respondents who did not consume cannabis believed that alcohol was “moderately dangerous”, while cannabis was rated as “not very dangerous or moderately dangerous.”

But aside from general opinions, is there evidence that one substance is more addictive or harmful than another?

What are the Similarities Between Cannabis and Alcohol?

Alcohol and cannabis share a set of common features. Both can be used to help people relax, calm nerves, and relax muscles. These effects occur because both alcohol and herbs belong to the class of depressants (although weeds fall off Many other drug classes as well).

NSAIDs increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. When GABA activity is increased, activity in the central nervous system slows down, and the speed at which messages are passed between the body and brain decreases. Imagine GABA as a brake pedal for the brain: When that brake is applied, a calming effect ensues.

However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too much depression equals too much GABA activity, which in turn can lead to drowsiness, slow reactions, poor coordination, and poor concentration. Anyone with a bit of weed or alcohol can likely attest to slurred speech, fainting early, possibly stumbling, and the like.

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How do weed and alcohol differ?

Cannabis differs from alcohol in several crucial ways for Dr. Jordan Schiller, Chairman Association of Cannabis Professionalsand CEO/CMO at inhale.

“Alcohol is one very simple molecule that is produced by the fermentation of yeast,” Tishler said. “Basically, it’s yeast poop. Stool is a poison in general and humans have discovered that in small doses they like the effect this poison has on their brain. It’s not really good for you and has no medical use at the moment.”

On the other hand, hemp is a plant that contains hundreds of diverse compounds, many of which are therapeutically beneficial.

“We just scratched the surface to find out what they are and what these compounds do,” explained Tishler. “However, it is well established that THC and cannabis in general are used to treat pain, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting and other ailments.”

In simple terms, cannabis has medicinal applications, and alcohol does not.

Is weed addictive?

Tichler stresses that understanding addiction is subtle, and it can be helpful to distinguish addicted From Accreditation.

“Addiction is a complex word,” Tishler said. “Addiction is a set of maladaptive behaviors, while dependence is a physiological state that leads to withdrawal and often continued use of a substance.”

Tishler believes that cannabis dependence is more common than addiction, which is officially diagnosed as cannabis use disorder. “Cannabis can lead to an addiction rate of about 7% – less than half that of alcohol – and a very low but undetermined addiction rate,” Tishler explained.

Research tells us that THC appears to be responsible for The possibility of cannabis addiction Because of its effect on the dopamine system in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain that influences the experience of pleasure and rewards.

THC increases dopamine release, and when dopamine is released, the resulting feelings of pleasure can enhance the addictive effects of cannabis. However, long-term heavy cannabis use It can suppress the dopamine system in the body. If your dopamine levels remain high for a long time – due to continued cannabis use, for example – the dopamine system becomes ineffective.

The Rewards Circle It can weaken the brain, and it can be difficult to get pleasure from things you normally enjoy, such as delicious food, a sense of accomplishment, or physical touch. This lack of pleasure can lead to more chronic use in the pursuit of the euphoria that previously came so easily.

On the other hand, CBD does not appear to be addictive. Instead, there is evidence that this non-intoxicating cannabis may be able to treat addiction. a Study 2015For example, it has been found that CBD may be useful in treating addiction to opiates, cocaine, tobacco, and even addiction to cannabis.

It’s important to remember that cannabis “addiction” is more than just a chemical reaction in the brain – social and environmental factors play a role, too. For example, some residents appear to be more prone to weed addiction than others teensand those with another substance use disorder, mood or mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.

Furthermore, other factors such as lifestyle, home and work environment, socioeconomic status as well as whether or not a person has found cannabis may influence whether or not a person has found addictive cannabis.

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How addictive is alcohol?

Similar to cannabis, alcohol dependence is more common than addiction, according to Cheller.

“With alcohol we see both addiction and dependence. The rate of dependence is about 15%, and the rate of addiction is much lower.” “In higher doses, alcohol can be addictive, and it has harmful effects on the brain, heart, liver, blood, and bone marrow.”

Recent studies similarly point to the various ways in which individuals can develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. For example, about 29.7% of men and 22.2% of women aged 18 and over participated let’s start drinking In 2019. While binge drinking is not the same as alcoholism, it is a form of abuse that contributes to the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

These statistics certainly indicate that alcohol is more addictive or prone to abuse than cannabis, but why?

Although there is no definitive answer, there are many contributing factors that are worth exploring. Like cannabis, alcohol also stimulates the release of dopamine. However, alcohol has another neurochemical pathway through which it can cause addiction, namely endorphins.

in Study 2012In the study, researchers at the University of California found that alcohol triggers the release of endorphins in two areas of the brain associated with reward processing. Endorphins are naturally occurring opioids produced by the body that relieve pain, help you feel good, and give you a sensation. The study also discovered that heavy drinkers had a higher release of these feel-good chemicals, thus enhancing alcoholic properties.

Similar to cannabis, a number of variables mean that some individuals may be more prone to alcoholism than others. Factors such as genetics, family history of alcoholism, mental health disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, and traumatic experiences increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.

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So which one is more addictive?

Some speculated That alcohol may be more addictive than cannabis because, quite simply, it is widely legal and readily available. Recent research indicates that increased cannabis legalization has been linked to High rates of dependency.

Several other studies have compared cannabis and alcohol, providing us with useful insights into how they stack up against each other in terms of safety and other measures.

one pioneer Study 2015 Comparing the risks of overdose associated with different addictive substances. Alcohol consumption falls into the high risk category, while cannabis, on the other hand, was the only substance described as low risk. In other words, It is impossible to die from a cannabis overdoseIt is relatively easier to die from alcohol poisoning.

There is evidence that cannabis is safer than alcohol with regard to a number of other health harms as well. a New Zealand Journal of Medicine study Comparing THC and alcohol in terms of 13 commonly discussed issues related to drug use and health.

THC has been found to be less dangerous than alcohol for these nine problems:

  • Death from an overdose
  • Death from severe withdrawal
  • Aggressiveness during poisoning
  • Brain damage from chronic heavy use
  • Damage to the liver and other organs
  • Contribute to a psychotic state
  • Causing severe depression
  • cause cancer
  • Fetal brain damage

For three other factors, cannabis and alcohol share similar risks:

  • Irritability after withdrawal
  • Harm while driving while drunk
  • addicted

There was only one problem where cannabis comes out worse than alcohol: the plant is more likely to cause anxiety during intoxication.

The degree to which weed or alcohol is addictive — or harmful — cannot be reduced to a single factor. While there is evidence that weed is relatively less addictive and less harmful than alcohol, this does not mean that it can be used recklessly.

Tishler believes that the better question is not which substance is more addictive, but how we use it.

“It’s important to remember that the risks associated with either substance are related to how much is used – less is safer,” he said. “While most people deal with an excessive amount of alcohol, many cannabis users use too much, often without even realizing how much they are taking and what the safe range is.”

Tishler points out that tolerance is often described as a badge of honor in cannabis circles. However, in reality, tolerance can lead to dependence and possibly addiction, so it may be helpful to avoid developing a high tolerance for cannabis.

Diverse factors, such as age, mental health, and personal circumstances, also intertwine together to influence the relationship we develop with these two substances. It is essential that you are aware of the risk factors that can magnify the potential for addiction or harm to you, and take precautions to prevent unwanted outcomes.

Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a New Zealand-based journalist specializing in cannabis and health and wellbeing. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and worked as a researcher and lecturer, but he loves being a writer more than anything else. She would happily spend her days writing, reading, wandering in the fresh air, eating and swimming.

View Emma Stone’s articles

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