Mental Health And Substance Abuse: Alcohol More Detrimental Than Marijuana


Alcohol is more detrimental than marijuana when it comes to mental health, says a new study.

According to current stat results, marijuana users across the country number up to 22 million. And as more and more states make a move to legalize America’s “most common illegal drug,” medical experts and researchers investigate the benefits as well as the health risks connected to marijuana use recreationally and medically.

One such undertaking was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder. In the said study, the group did a review on “existing imaging data” that exhibits the brain effects of marijuana use and alcoholism.

And their findings led them to conclude that drinking alcoholic beverages could be more detrimental to our brain’s health than marijuana use.

The Premise

For the said study, the team took into account brain images of some 853 adults who were between 18 to 55 years old and 439 teens aging from 14 to 18. All of them either use alcohol or marijuana.

They found out that the brain scans of alcohol consumers – especially the adults who have been drinking for some years – showed gray matter reduction regarding volume and white matter lessening regarding integrity. To further understand this, gray matter is the tissue found on the surface of the brain and mainly made up of nerve cell bodies. White matter, on the other hand, is the tissue located in the organ’s deeper part and is made up of branches sticking out to connect these nerve cells to others. Accordingly, the reduction of mass and integrity for both matters could lead to brain function deficiencies.

“Our results are leading to the conclusion that alcohol is worse compared to cannabis, brain-wise,” one of the researchers voiced out. “We’ve known the negative effects alcohol brings to the body, but we know so little of marijuana. This study was able to shed a little light on that matter.”

“Cannabis might not be off the hook when it comes to its user’s health, but it isn’t as bad as what alcohol causes,” he added.

Puzzling Discoveries


However, it’s difficult to trust this latest study’s findings as over the years, similar undertakings on the effect of cannabis – whether positive or negative – yielded differing and puzzling results.

For one, a study some years back associated marijuana use with increased risk of psychosis in teenagers. Meanwhile, another study claimed that the use of the former is worse than smoking when it came to heart health.

On the other hand, some studies made about cannabis produced positive outcomes. There was one that claimed cannabinoids, active compounds found in the plant, helped in migraine prevention and another that said the plant showed promise in aiding those who have low sex drives.


The team, on their part, admitted that their study does have limitations. And when asked if they’ve made progress on finding possible advantages of using marijuana, they answered with: “We’re still there doing the digging. We believe we need to conduct further investigations to make concrete conclusions.”