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Study: Could cannabis be a useful intervention in tackling alcohol abuse?



Researchers found that individuals drank almost 30 percent fewer drinks when they consumed cannabis
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Cannabis has been linked to a decrease in the amount of alcohol consumed by individuals seeking treatment, according to a new study. 

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University explored the relationship between cannabis use and alcohol intake in 96 people who were enrolled in an alcohol treatment program and who consumed cannabis.

The findings, published in the journal, Addiction, reported that on days when these participants consumed cannabis, their alcohol intake fell significantly. 

This trend was consistent among those who used heavy amounts of cannabis as well as among those who used only light amounts of cannabis occasionally.

Researchers found that individuals drank almost 30 percent fewer drinks and were two times less likely to binge drink on the days they consumed cannabis, compared with the days they didn’t. 

They determined: “Across the sample, individuals drank approximately 29 percent fewer drinks and were 2.06 times less likely to have a binge-drinking episode on days that cannabis was used compared with days cannabis was not used. These patterns were observed in males, females and the infrequent and frequent cannabis use groups.”

As a result, the study’s authors concluded: “Heavy drinkers engaged in treatment to reduce their alcohol consumption who also use cannabis appear to increase their cannabis use on days when they reduce their alcohol consumption.”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said it gave a strong indication that cannabis could potentially be used as an ‘intervention’ to tackle alcohol abuse.

He said: “Several previous studies have examined whether cannabis is more likely to act as either a substitute or as a compliment for alcohol and, thus far, they have yielded mixed results. 

“This study’s findings are an important addition to this growing body of literature and offer strong evidence that cannabis can act as an intervention for certain persons seeking to reduce their alcohol consumption.”

The authors of the study reported similar findings in 2020, when investigating alcohol and cannabis consumption, while in December Harvard researchers concluded that cannabis abstinence among young people led to increased alcohol intake. 

A recent study also found that the majority of US adults perceive cannabis to be less harmful than alcohol and prescription drugs.

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health.Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained.She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa.Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag