“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” angrily wrote one of the people, a therapist, who gets my emails. “I’m unsubscribing because this is irresponsible behavior,” they said in a fit of indignation over me talking about how cannabis appears to help people taper off of alcohol. 


Of course, by now, I’m used to such blow-back when I tiptoe into territory where sticky stigmas around cannabis (and, for that fact, psilocybin microdosing) continue to view the plant as another addictive drug. This is where my long experience as a former health editor and reporter, emotions therapist and clinical nutritionist serves me well. I stay on top of the science literature and do not deal in “alternative facts”. 

Yet, I understand the theory that cannabis may help people taper off of alcohol can be a hard one to swallow. Twelve step programs, counseling programs and many (but not all) psychiatrists and talk therapists want anybody with a substance abuse problem to renounce all substances. 

Clean and sober used to be the operative term. Marijuana Maintenance may be the new term.


“I used to use marijuana to numb,” a student of mine told me, describing how it was among their former addictions – along with crack and alcohol. “But now I’m in recovery and I’m on marijuana maintenance,” they added as we discussed their path of emotional and trauma recovery.   

Stories like this are not unusual in my emotions work – but marijuana maintenance was a new term for me. I like the phrase a lot as it rings true. Maintenance is the state of being maintained, supported or cared for. So marijuana maintenance offers support for increased stability, enhanced introspection, and keener empathic understanding.

Although the term has not made it into the science literature (yet), a newer research study out of Canada suggests this direction in reporting that many of the patients enrolled in the country’s medical cannabis program report reducing their alcohol intake. 

“Our findings suggest that medical cannabis initiation may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use.”

– Authors of Research Study, Int’l Journal of Drug Policy 

This team of researchers, from the University of Victoria and the Canadian Institute for Substance Abuse Research, surveyed more than 2000 medical cannabis patients. Patients self-reported their use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol before and after their enrollment in Canada’s medical cannabis access program.

Researchers reported that 44% of participants reported “decreases in alcohol frequency” over 30 days. Of those, 34% reported decreasing the number of drinks they consumed per week. 8% percent reported consuming no alcohol during the 30-day period prior to taking the survey.

This study is only the latest in a growing number of such research consistent with this theory. Here are a few others:

 
 


Of course, to optimize this approach, the use of cannabis in this respect, is something far different from the pursuit of “numbing” with substances. It’s quite clear the “numbing” process is a logical approach for a person desperately trying to quell such emotions as anxiety, anger, depression and low self-esteem, which is a whole other conversation!  

What are your thoughts on this approach, the idea of using cannabis to wean off alcohol? Connect with me here and let me know. 

With Love,
Becca

P.S. Getting in touch with your difficult emotions is pivotal to feeling better and healing trauma. Coming up later this month, we have a complimentary and exclusive session on: Resources & Inspiration for Tapering off Mood Meds that No Longer Serve You. If you or someone you know is keen to reduce or get off their mood managing meds and the emotional blunting they may be causing, this is the event for you.