Without a doubt, alcohol is the most common and socially accepted drug out there. Most people can keep their use of alcohol within healthy boundaries, but there is still a significant group of people that do get into trouble due to alcohol. Officially this is called a “disorder in the use of alcohol”, but more often this is referred to as alcohol addiction or alcoholism. This may be accompanied by all kinds of social problems, but also with severe physical (withdrawal) symptoms such as trembling, sweating, hallucinations and (epileptic) seizures . Especially for the most dependent drinkers cannabinoids might offer a solution.
A study of dr. Mikuriya described 92 patients that received cannabis against alcohol dependence for a longer period of time . As expected, all these patients called cannabis “effective” or “very effective” in their fight against alcohol dependence. Of these 92 patients, 27 reported that they had used alcohol as a painkiller in the past, 44 of them used alcohol to alleviate psychological symptoms. For both physical and psychological symptoms cannabis was found to be an effective substitute. Dr. Mikuriya emphasizes that cannabis has fewer side effects than both alcohol and regular medication.
In a more recent study, 350 cannabis users were surveyed. 65% of these users also reported that they used cannabis because it had fewer adverse effects than alcohol, prescription drugs or other illicit drugs . The researchers asked themselves the following question after their findings: shouldn’t people who use substances as self-medication (for example, drinking or using cannabis) not have a right to choose the substance that gives them the least side effects?
Cannabis use can also have drawbacks and negative consequences, particularly smoking cannabis (with a high THC content) is known to be harmful to our health. The question that researchers raise however, is whether cannabis in this case is not the lesser of two evils, especially when you compare it to severe cases of alcohol dependence. It’s virtually impossible to take an overdose from cannabis and the withdrawal symptoms are much less severe than those of alcohol.
CBD specifically is, to our knowledge, not been studied for problems with alcohol. There are indications that CBD may be effective in other addictions though.
Advice for using cannabinoids against alcohol addiction
People who have problems with alcohol and want to quit can probably best attempt this without the use of cannabis. People who have problems with the use of alcohol are probably at a higher risk for getting addicted to cannabis as well. Nevertheless, cannabis could serve as a substitute for alcohol for a group of severe and long-time alcohol users. It may contribute to harm reduction this way. What CBD and other cannabinoids can do for people with alcohol problems we do not know. What we do know you about cannabinoids and other addictions you can read here. Click here to read more about safe use of cannabinoids.
- Mikuriya, T. (2004) Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol: A Harm-Reduction Approach. Journal of cannabis therapeutics. 4(1): 79-93.
- Reiman, A. (2009) Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. Harm reduction Journal, 6: 35.