Studies show medical marijuana may be able to combat addiction by acting as a substitute for more harmful substances as well as by treating the withdrawal symptoms that come with weening off of an addiction. This has been most notable for its ability to fight the opioid epidemic, but these effects also extend to other addictions, such as alcohol abuse. A study from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found about half of medical marijuana users are substituting marijuana for alcohol, and that drinking is reduced among marijuana users. According to this study, “It appears that cannabis may provide an alternative for potentially more harmful substances, and as such may have a place in harm-reduction strategy.”
Too much alcohol can lead to changes in brain chemistry, and according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Alcohol intoxication can alter the delicate balance among different types of neurotransmitter chemicals and can lead to drowsiness, loss of coordination, and euphoria—hallmarks of alcohol intoxication... To restore a balanced state, the function of certain neurotransmitters begins to change so that the brain can perform more normally in the presence of alcohol. These long-term chemical changes are believed to be responsible for the harmful effects of alcohol, such as alcohol dependence.” Because cannabinoid receptors mediate the chemical changes in the brain resulting from alcohol use, the cannabinoids in cannabis could be a powerful treatment for alcohol withdrawal. A study that took place in Belgium found cannabinoids may provide “a new therapeutic direction for treatment of the negative affective state produced by alcohol withdrawal and abstinence, which is critical for the maintenance of alcohol addiction.”
This information has been provided by MassRoots and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.