• Following medical cannabis initiation, 44% (n=419) of participants reported decreases in alcohol use frequency over 30 days, and 34% (n=323) decreased the number of standard drinks they had per week.
• Younger age (<55 years old) and higher rates of alcohol use prior to medical cannabis initiation were associated with greater odds of reducing alcohol.
• Specific intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption resulted in greater odds of reducing and/or ceasing use altogether.
Evidence details how cannabis can influence the use of other psychoactive substances, including prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, but very little research has examined the factors associated with these changes in substance use patterns. This paper explores the self-reported use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol among a Canadian medical cannabis patient population.
Data was derived from a survey of 2102 people enrolled in the Canadian medical cannabis program. We included 973 (44%) respondents who reported using alcohol on at least 10 occasions over a 12 month period prior to initiating medical cannabis, and then used retrospective data on the frequency and amount of alcohol use pre-and post medical cannabis initiation to determine which participant characteristics and other variables were associated with reductions and/or cessation of alcohol use.
Overall, 419 (44%) participants reported decreases in alcohol usage frequency over 30 days, 323 (34%) decreased the number of standard drinks they had per week, and 76 (8%) reported no alcohol use at all in the 30 days prior to the survey. Being below 55 years of age and reporting higher rates of alcohol use in the pre-period were both associated with greater odds of reducing alcohol use, and an intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption was associated with significantly greater odds of both reducing and ceasing alcohol use altogether.
Our findings suggest that medical cannabis initiation may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use among medical cannabis patients. Since alcohol is the most prevalent recreational substance in North America, and its use results in significant rates of criminality, morbidity and mortality, these findings may result in improved health outcomes for medical cannabis patients, as well as overall improvements in public health and safety.
Source : sciencedirect.com