If you smoke marijuana you’re five times more likely to become an alcoholic.
That is the verdict of new research carried out by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York, which also found that adults who already have an alcohol use disorder and smoke pot are more likely to see their drinking problem persist.
Original article appeared in the March 21, 2016 newsletter by Kiva Recovery.
The researchers looked at data from more than 27,00 adults who enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. All of these adults first used marijuana at a time when they had no history of alcohol use disorders.
The study found that adults who used cannabis over three years were five times more likely to develop an alcohol problem compared with those who didn’t. Also, adults who had drinking problems but didn’t use marijuana were significantly more likely to be in recovery from their alcohol use disorders at the three-year follow-up.
"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," said Renee Goodwin, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health in a press release. "Marijuana use also appears to increase the likelihood that an existing alcohol use disorder will continue over time."
It’s also important to realize that while a harmful aspect of marijuana use is its potential to be a “gateway” drug --- one that leads to the use of more dangerous and more addictive drugs and alcohol --- increased research has shown that marijuana can be addictive.
17% of Teens Who Use Marijuana Will Become Alcohol Abusers
According to a study endorsed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9% of people who use marijuana will become abusers. The number rises to 17% when cannabis use begins in the teens. If you broaden the scope to include marijuana dependence, the rate could be higher than 20 percent, at 4.5 million users.
How do you know if you or someone you know is developing (or has already developed) a marijuana use disorder? Experiencing two or more of the following symptoms within a 12-month period may suggest cannabis abuse:
- You use larger amounts over a longer period.
- You want to cut back but you just can’t stop using.
- You spend too much time trying to get marijuana.
- You have strong cravings and desire to use.
- You can no longer meet obligations at work, school or home.
- Using affects your relationships.
- You continue to use even in hazardous situations.
- You continue using even when it presents physical or psychological problems.
- You develop a tolerance. (a) You need more to achieve the same high and (b) you experience a diminished effect when using the same amount.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms or you take it to relieve/avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone you know has two or more of these symptoms, help is just a phone call away.