Many people drink alcohol, some smoke weed, and there are those that consume both. There are negative consequences with both substances, however, the harmful use of alcohol is determined to be abuse. It seems to be a popular occurrence in some circles in ‘binge drinking’ which is another form of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is considered a drinking disorder. There seems to be a difference in the consequences associated with marijuana or weed, of which is reflected here by Erin Brodwin, Business Insider.com, on the subject:
“Which is worse for you: weed or whiskey?
It’s a tough call, but based on the peer-reviewed science, there appears to be a clear answer.
Keep in mind that there are dozens of factors to account for when comparing the health effects of alcohol and marijuana, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked.
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Time is important, too — while some effects are noticeable immediately, others only begin to crop up after months or years of use.
The comparison is slightly unfair for another reason: While scientists have been researching the effects of alcohol for decades, the science of cannabis is murkier because of its mostly illegal status.
Here’s what we know about which substance is more harmful.
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A large review published in August in the medical journal The Lancet found that among people aged 15-49, alcohol use was the leading health risk factor across the globe in 2016, with 3.8% of all female deaths and 12·2% of all male deaths attributable to alcohol use.
The review looked at published data from nearly 600 studies that comprised data on 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2016. The results showed that among people of all ages, alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for deaths in 2016.
The more people drank across the globe, the more their risk of dying and their risk of cancer rose, the study authors found. As a result of these findings, they concluded that there was no “safe” level of alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss,” the researchers wrote in their paper, “and the level of consumption that minimizes health loss is zero.”
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In 2014, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes in the US — and that does not count drinking-related accidents or homicides. If those deaths were included, the number would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, no deaths from marijuana overdoses have been reported, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. A 16-year study of more than 65,000 Americans, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that healthy marijuana users were not more likely to die earlier than healthy people who did not use cannabis.
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Close to half of all adults have tried marijuana at least once, making it one of the most widely used illegal drugs — yet research suggests that a relatively small percentage of people become addicted.
For a 1994 survey, epidemiologists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse asked more than 8,000 people from ages 15 to 64 about their drug use. Of those who had tried marijuana at least once, roughly 9% eventually fit a diagnosis of addiction. For alcohol, the figure was about 15%. To put that in perspective, the addiction rate for cocaine was 17%, while heroin was 23% and nicotine was 32%.
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Unlike alcohol, which slows your heart rate, marijuana speeds it up, which could negatively affect the heart in the short term. Still, the largest-ever report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, released in January, found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis may increase the overall risk of a heart attack.
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On the other hand, low to moderate drinking — about one drink a day — has been linked with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared with abstention. James Nicholls, a director at Alcohol Research UK, told The Guardian that those findings should be taken with a grain of salt since “any protective effects tend to be canceled out by even occasional bouts of heavier drinking.”
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