While it is not uncommon for people to self-medicate with dangerous substances in an attempt to lead a pain-free and productive life, researchers from the University of Victoria have determined that patients who are given access to medical cannabis often significantly reduce their consumption of risky prescription narcotics and alcohol.
According to the study, which was published in a recent issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, “substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87 percent of respondents, with 80.3 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7 percent for alcohol and 32.6 percent for illicit substances.”
Researchers found that these substitutions were more prevalent in patients between the ages of 18 and 40.
“The finding that cannabis was substituted for alcohol and illicit substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and could have implications for substance use treatment approaches requiring abstinence from cannabis in the process of reducing the use of other substances,” wrote the authors.
These finding are consistent with multiple reports of patients using far less alcohol and prescription painkillers when medical marijuana is available. In fact, evaluations in both Arizona and Rhode Island found that patients self-medicated with pills and alcohol “less frequently” upon their participation in their respective medical marijuana programs. What’s more is that states that have medical marijuana programs in places are reportedly seeing a significant drop in opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
Statistics from a recent California study also corroborates the theory that medical marijuana patients consume less booze. The research published in a 2014 issue of Alcohol and Alcoholism concluded that while there may not be enough evidence to say for sure whether medical marijuana patients will use weed as a substitute for alcohol, the results are definitely in its favor.
Do you consume cannabis to manage your symptoms instead of alcohol or prescription pills? Share your story in the comments.