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Substance Showdown: Alcohol v. Marijuana

We are going to put alcohol and marijuana to the test. Marijuana and alcohol are two of the most commonly used substances on the face of the planet. In fact, a majority of the world has tried one or both at some point during their life. In this blog, alcohol and marijuana are going into the “boxing ring of substances” for three rounds that will be based on: health effects, insidiousness and legality, as well as withdrawal. The winner is picked based on which one has the worst health effects, insidiousness, legality and withdrawal.

On that note, let the battle begin!!!

Substance Showdown: Alcohol v. Marijuana

ROUND 1: HEALTH EFFECTS

Alcohol: Drinking too much, on one occasion or on many occasions can take a serious toll on your health. Alcohol penetrates every cell in the human body. So, let see how alcohol’s health effects stack up.

  • Brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. The disruptions alcohol makes to the brain can change mood and behavior and, it can make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. Alcohol can also shut the brain completely down.
  • Heart: Drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time or too much on even ONE occasion can cause damage to the heart such as stretching and drooping of the heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Liver: This one is pretty well known. Alcohol can cause a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).
  • Alcohol can cause cancer including cancer in the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can also weaken your immune system and make it an easy prey for diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Drinking even once slows your body’s ability to ward of infections even up to 24 hours after drinking.

Marijuana: Of course we all know marijuana has medicinal properties for those who are sick but what about marijuana use in general? Is it more dangerous than alcohol?

  • Brain: Long-term, heavy use of marijuana can lead to impaired thinking skills and memory problems.
  • Lungs: Smoking marijuana produces a nearly threefold increase of inhaled tar compared with tobacco, according to some studies. Marijuana smoke contains cancer-causing substances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some research shows that marijuana smoke has up to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke, it says.
  • Mental Health: Numerous studies have linked marijuana use with schizophrenia. In this brain disorder, people may think they hear voices and that others are controlling their minds and thoughts. Marijuana use can be linked with anxiety. Studies have also found a link between regular marijuana use and panic attacks, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities.
  • IQ: And a large prospective study (following individuals across time) showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38; importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.

AND THE WINNER OF ROUND 1 IS? ALCOHOL

While neither of these substances are good for you when it comes to health effects alcohol offers up nothing helpful and makes it way worse than marijuana which makes alcohol the winner; at the very least, marijuana does have some medicinal properties.

ROUND 2: INSIDIOUSNESS AND LEGALITY

Alcohol: Because of the legality of alcohol it makes it extremely insidious. We see alcohol everywhere; no literally, EVERYWHERE. In the pharmacy, almost every restaurant you go to, clubs, T.V. shows, T.V. commercials, in our homes, in our parent’s hands, at football games, it is in cough syrup; we cook with it, and even see it at church. Because we see alcohol everywhere it becomes socially acceptable and when something is socially accepted we tend to think it is “safe”.

The truth about alcohol is that it is far from safe. Just take a look at its health effects which are listed above. We all start out drinking, thinking absolutely nothing of it because it is such a huge part of our culture, without ever realizing the damage we are doing to our bodies or the potential alcohol has for developing an alcohol addiction or alcoholism. This makes alcohol very insidious, subtle, and sneaky. It is the ninja or assassin, if you will, of substances. This is due to its complete and total legality for those over the age of 21, as well as it social acceptance.

Marijuana: While marijuana isn’t legal like alcohol is, you have probably heard and may have said yourself but marijuana is safe! That is because of its medicinal properties. Although there are many people who won’t use marijuana just because it is illegal or think it is dangerous because it is illegal. The truth is that while marijuana does have medicinal properties and its health effects aren’t too dangerous it is still insidious. Does anyone know that person who has been smoking pot for a majority of their life? What does their life look like?

While marijuana won’t cause you to fall over and die anytime soon and it can help with symptoms of cancer (if you even have cancer)-it still can leave you drowsy, overweight, and lazy. 10 years from now you may find yourself stuck on the same couch with the same amount of motivation you had when you initially started smoking pot-none. Marijuana is insidious because its health effects, shown above, take a while to show up. It takes a while to notice how it has impacted your health and life; also it is touted as having medicinal properties. This means that it creeps up on you. Marijuana is like a pissed off ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that believes its revenge is a dish best served cold and its effects will creep up on you eventually every day that you smoke.

THE WINNER OF ROUND 2 IS: NEITHER, IT IS A DRAW. Alcohol is legal and socially accepted, but the health effects are almost immediate-yet they are unknown and it is highly addictive. Marijuana is illegal, not socially accepted, but thought of as non-addictive and safe, yet is addictive, has medicinal properties, and its health effects don’t show up immediately. Both are very insidious.

ROUND 3: WITHDRAWALS

Alcohol: Alcohol is addictive. That is a fact. Drink enough alcohol, over a long enough period of time and you will be physically addicted to the drink. So what happens when you get addicted to alcohol and then try to stop drinking? Nothing good-I can say that much.

Alcohol withdrawal can be potentially fatal.

Here are some more symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Mild to moderate psychological symptoms:  Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness, shakiness, anxiety irritability or easily excited, emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes, depression, fatigue, difficulty with thinking clearly ad dreams.
  • Mild to moderate physical symptoms: Headache, sweating, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, insomnia, sleeping difficulty, paleness, rapid heart rate (palpitations), pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils), clammy skin, tremor of the hands Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids.
  • Severe symptoms: A state of confusion and hallucinations (visual) — known as delirium tremens, agitation, fever, convulsions, and “black outs” — when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode.

Marijuana: Marijuana is touted to be non-addictive. This just isn’t true, especially in the psychological sense. Marijuana is addictive and therefore individuals who try to stop smoking it will experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms. A Duke University study of 496 adult marijuana smokers who tried to quit found that 95.5% of them experienced at least one withdrawal symptom while 43.1% experienced more than one symptom. One study found that 70.4% of users trying to quit smoking marijuana relapsed to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms:

  • Insomnia, nightmares, vivid dreams, using dreams, craving for marijuana, trouble falling asleep, and mood swings from depression to anger to euphoria and back again.
  • Nervousness, restlessness, loss of concentration, headaches, weight loss and weight gain.
  • There are also digestion problems, cramps, or nausea after eating.
  • Night sweats, loss of sense of humor, decreased sex drive, shakiness and dizziness.

THE WINNER OF ROUND 3 IS: ALCOHOL. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. That makes it a clear winner.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST THE WINNER OF THE SHOWDOWN IS . . . ALCOHOL!

Alcohol is insidious, has a hellish withdrawal and has some pretty downright terrible health effects. If you are ever asked which is worse now you will know what you don’t want to get into the boxing ring of substances with, and that is alcohol.

If you or someone you know needs treatment for Marijuana Addiction or Alcohol Addiction, please call us at 800-951-6135

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20121207/recreational-marijuana-health-effects?page=2

http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/withdraw/a/aa030307a.htm

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