How does cannabis affect alcohol consumption?

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Alcohol and cannabis: strange de facto bedfellows. Often discussed (and participated in) together, these ubiquitous intoxicants could not be more different. One is a toxin and the other a kind of skeleton key to one of the body’s most critical systems. However, the two remain closely linked in culture, business, and even public policy, with frequent calls legalize marijuana by treating it like alcohol.

For decades, scientists have studied various aspects of the relationship between them, such as whether the use of one is associated with the use of the other, its relative impacts on society and human health, and how manifests alcohol dependence through the endocannabinoid system itself.

We now understand that even if cannabis and alcohol can have similar social roles: encouraging college students, football moms, and CEOTheir biological methods of action and their overall risk profiles are drastically different. And, in part, to support policies and public health in this critical and rapidly evolving area, researchers continue to explore fascinating links between two of humanity’s favorite mind-altering drugs.

THC & Alcohol consumption

There is conflicting evidence about the effects of cannabis on alcohol consumption, write the authors of a recent study in the journal. Psychology of addictive behaviors.1 Some studies suggest that cannabis is a substitute for alcohol, while others suggest that cannabis complements alcohol, thus increasing consumption.

Lead author Hollis Karoly and lead author Kent Hutchinson, both of the University of Colorado Boulder, have performed multiple studies designed to illuminate this relationship over the past five years, and his latest article goes a step further by trying to determine the relative roles of THC i CBD.

To do so, Karoly, Hutchinon, and two other colleagues at the University of Colorado designed a naturalistic observational study in which 120 adult cannabis and alcohol users were assigned to use one of three varieties of cannabis (mainly cannabis). THC, predominantly CBD, or balanced THC i CBD) freely for five days.

When the researchers compared reported alcohol consumption before and during this five-day period, they found it CBD users drank fewer drinks per day of consumption and had fewer days of alcohol consumption and fewer days of alcohol and cannabis consumption compared to the other two groups. Interestingly, it was not the presence of CBD this made a difference, but rather the absence of THC, as no differences arose between the THC i THC+CBD groups.

This finding about the importance of THC, and therefore the high level of cannabis, when it comes to influencing alcohol consumption is aligned with that of a separate survey of 600 people conducted recently by Karoly, Hutchinson and colleagues. Their findings were presented at a (virtual) meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism2 in June, but have not yet been published. The researchers found that patients and users of medicinal cannabis mainly CBD Products were reported to drink less alcohol than recreational ones and higher.THC cannabis users.

The use of cannabis as a harm reduction

A third recent study by the same team at the University of Colorado sought to assess the effect of cannabis use on total beverages consumed and the likelihood of excessive drinking on a given day among 96 people undergoing treatment for a disorder. for alcohol consumption.

The results, published in the journal Addiction,3 suggest an inverse relationship between cannabis use and alcohol consumption among these heavy drinkers. In the days when alcohol consumption went down, cannabis use increased. Or, looking at it another way, individuals drank about 29 percent fewer drinks and were half as likely to have a binge episode on days they consumed cannabis compared to days they didn’t.

From a prohibitionist or just abstinence perspective, this could be seen as the mere replacement of one vice by another. But seen through one damage reduction slow, this could be seen as real progress given the well established security profile of cannabis in relation to alcohol.

Interestingly, these findings may be relevant beyond the context of alcohol treatment and to the wider population. A study recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics4 found that between 2002 and 2018, cannabis use among young adults increased (without an increase in cannabis use disorder), while alcohol abstinence increased and problematic alcohol use decreased, according to data from the survey of 183,000 young people aged 18 to 22 across the country.

The role of CB1

So what’s going on here? A lot, it turns out. There is one meaningful work body find out how alcohol affects the endocannabinoid system and how the endocannabinoid system in turn boosts alcohol dependence. In particular, as the studies mentioned above THC suggest, and additional documents show, the CB1 receiverTHCthe main purpose of – is believed to play a critical role.

CB1 genetic polymorphisms, or variations, an association with alcohol dependence was found in a recent meta-analysis. As research continues on relevant pathways, this receptor and other components of the endocannabinoid system such as fatty acid amide hydrolase [FAAH], a key enzyme that breaks down CB1-binding endocannabinoids, are already being goal in the development of new treatments for addiction not only to alcohol but also to opioids and tobacco.


Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics, including environmental health, neuroscience, and pharmacology.

Copyright, Project CBD. Cannot reprint without permission.


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