Is Medical Marijuna the Answer to Reducing Use of Pills & Alcohol?

People have known for a long time that drugs prescribed to those who want to quit drinking alcohol have many side effects, especially from drug interactions between multiple prescriptions. Likewise, many prefer marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs for certain ailments, such as inflammation and pain. Since so many Americans are switching to marijuana over pills and alcohol, we examine the reasons behind their decisions [1].

If you’re wondering if an Ohio medical marijuana recommendation is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Ohio medical marijuana doctors. Completing our easy, online eligibility survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for a MMJ recommendation today!

Medical Marijuana as a Substitution

Those who substitute one drug for another, whether illicit or legal, make the choice to do so based on: their potential for addiction, how safe they perceive the drug to be, how effective the drug is to relieve symptoms, and their level of access to and acceptance of the drug. Studies show, now more than ever, people are substituting marijuana for other drugs.

A medical marijuana dispensary in Berkeley, CA collected survey data from 350 anonymous patients, of which 53% drank alcohol at an average number of 2.6 days per week and 2.9 average drinks per occasion. 11% used drugs that were not prescribed to them, with MDMA, cocaine, and Vicodin used most frequently. Interestingly, 40% substituted medical marijuana for alcohol, 26% for illicit drugs, and 66% for prescription drugs! The most common reasons for substituting marijuana were reported as: fewer side effects (65%), better management of symptoms (57%), and reduced withdrawals (34%) [2].

Alcohol isn’t Worth the Calories or Hangovers

Jena, a Chicago-based millennial, started using cannabis products after consuming alcohol for almost 10 years. Despising the calories and hangovers from alcohol, she smokes marijuana a couple times during the week and consumes edibles made with CBD when she doesn’t want to feel high. Compared to $30 on marijuana for a whole month, Jena was spending $30-$50 per night on alcohol several nights per week. In an interview for Market Watch, Jena said, “I realized that I get zero enjoyment out of drinking, and it costs me more money than weed does…I definitely enjoy weed better. It’s more relaxing, I don’t have to worry about how I acted the night before, and don’t have to deal with hangovers or throwing up the morning after” [3]. 

The belief that alcohol is better for you than marijuana tends to be a common misunderstanding. Alcohol, being the more socially acceptable substance over time, seems to have won the popular vote until marijuana became legal in more states. In an article for Leafly, Bailey Rahn talked about how her alcohol usage decreased naturally as a result of trying marijuana. This is because alcohol tended to relieve stress without the hangovers, stomach aches, or lack of control. She feels marijuana provides an awareness of and appreciation for her senses, whereas alcohol diminished them. It enhances her creativity and social wellness, motivating her to be healthier and happier. Why hadn’t she tried it sooner? Simply put, marijuana hasn’t always been as socially accepted as it is becoming today [4].

A Safer Alternative to Opioids & Other Drugs

A study recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows marijuana users have stopped or decreased their usage of opiates and other medications. Study participants took part in a “medical marijuana program,” a peer-reviewed, scientific study designed to examine the connection between prescription drug and marijuana use. Researchers believe marijuana is an effective solution to the American opioid crisis. Conducted at Depaul and Rush universities, the study was comprised of 30 participants with an average age of 45. In conclusion, the study found participants who used marijuana experienced faster pain relief than with prescription drugs and with less side effects. Aside from opioids, participants were able to cut down on other drugs, such as OTC pain medicines, anticonvulsants, and anti-inflammatories [5].

Other studies show that where medical marijuana is legal, opioid use has fallen. Papers published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine show over five years of prescription data from Medicare part D and Medicaid that prove opioid prescriptions and usage have greatly decreased. An earlier study found deaths due to opioid overdoses fell by 25 percent! While the correlation cannot be proven completely, it stands to reason that people need options for pain management that don’t bring the side effects seen by those taking opiates. The proof is in the pudding, as more Americans than ever are willing to accept marijuana over pills and alcohol. A Pew survey recently found 61% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana [6]. 

Is medical marijuana right for me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our online eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. An Ohio MMJ doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com/ohio/.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992908/
  2. https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1477-7517-6-35
  3. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-appear-to-like-cannabis-more-than-booze-2018-09-26
  4. https://www.leafly.com/news/health/how-cannabis-can-help-you-cut-back-on-alcohol-and-live-healthier
  5. https://drugabuse.com/study-medical-marijuana-cuts-use-of-prescription-drugs/
  6. https://www.statnews.com/2018/04/02/marijuana-legal-opioid-prescriptions/