(About.com) In order to stop drinking, some people who have become dependent on alcohol will take the controversial step of substituting the use of marijuana for alcohol, a practice that is known as the Marijuana Maintenance program.
Although the use of marijuana may indeed be less hazardous than heavy drinking — especially to someone who has been drinking excessively for a long period of time — smoking pot comes with its own set of negative effects and consequences:
- In most jurisdictions, the possession and use of marijuana is illegal. [TRUE link]
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can contribute to mental health problems. [FALSE link link]
- Use of marijuana can also have long-term effects on the health of regular users. [FALSE link]
- Smoking marijuana can affect the user’s learning and social skills. [FALSE link]
- Long-term marijuana use can affect a smoker’s memory and speed of thinking. [FALSE link]
Also, for those who later decide to quit smoking marijuana, the withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit smoking can be similar to those experienced by people who quit smoking cigarettes. [FALSE link]
Here’s what I know:
- I am the child of an alcoholic.
- I had my first drinks at age 16
- By age 19, I too was an alcoholic. I could drink a case of beer a day. I could drink faster than you. I could drink more than you. My drinking helped me flunk out of college (me, a 3.44 GPA high school honors student who’d been in “gifted & talented” programs all my life)
- At age 22 I had my first puff of a joint.
- Up to about age 32 I continued to drink more than smoke, but I was no longer chugging beers every day. My drinking was limited to a shot or two (or four or six) at my weekend music gigs.
- Since age 32 (I’m 41 now) I have drastically increased my marijuana intake and my drinking now may be a margarita or a glass of wine every other month.
Or we could just refer to the work of the late great Dr. Tod Mikuriya:
Ninety-two Northern Californians who use cannabis as an alternative to alcohol obtained letters of approval from the author. Their records were reviewed to determine characteristics of the cohort and efficacy of the treatment, which was defined as reduced harm to the patient. All patients reported benefit, indicating that for at least a subset of alcoholics, cannabis use is associated with reduced drinking. The cost of alcoholism to individual patients and society at large warrants testing of the cannabis-substitution approach and study of the drug-of-choice phenomenon.