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Choosing Buds over Booze: Dry January with Cannabis

When it comes to alcohol vs weed, we’re going to show you the clear winner for a healthy, happy New Year.

January 5, 2024

It’s a brand new year! The opportunities for fresh starts, self-reinvention, and new habits are all around us. Health and wellness are front and center, and like many others you might be taking a look at your relationship with the ol’ tipsy trickster: alcohol. It’s a smart move! There’s virtually no downside to dumping those bottles. But if alcohol was helping you with anxiety, productivity, or socialization, consider that cannabis can take its place without the boozy downsides. When it comes to alcohol vs weed, we’re going to show you the clear winner for a healthy, happy New Year.

For the Health of It

We’ll admit there’s fun to be had with moderate drinking. But the tradeoff is that alcohol is wreaking havoc on your organs. Between the pain, the aches, and the added calories, that’s probably a big reason you considered Dry January in the first place. Even occasional misuse of alcohol can result in “atrial fibrillation, irregular heart rate, chronic high blood pressure,” and can result in a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure and rapidly age your arteries into stiff, cracking blood tubes of danger!

Plus, alcohol can increase the risk of multiple cancers, damage your liver, pancreas, and brain, and cause memory and learning problems. Even light drinkers face the risk of dehydration, inflammation, stomach problems, bad sleep, dangerous interactions with important medications, and of course, the dreaded hangover. Ever say “I’ll never drink again” after one of those nights? Yeah, that’s your body begging you to please never drink again!

But if you turn your gaze away from the gloomy, dim, dangerous swamp of alcohol, you’ll see a bright and shining field of cannabis plants under a rainbow, enriched by sunshine and fresh spring rain showers!

Ok, we admit the metaphor is a little slanted, but if you’re asking, “is alcohol worse than weed?” the facts speak for themselves. For example, while alcohol has long been proven to be a high risk trigger for a wide variety of cancers, cannabis has shown to have protective properties against cancer. A 2009 study showed that long-term cannabis users were “roughly 62 percent less likely to develop head and neck cancers than people who did not smoke pot...and no link between cannabis use and lung cancer.” And while myths have persisted that weed kills brain cells, studies have shown growing evidence that medical marijuana can actually protect your brain, potentially fighting off conditions like Alzheimers, MS, neuropathy, and seizure disorders.

A Matter of Life and Death

If the health risks alone are not enough to switch from alcohol to cannabis for your New Year’s Resolution, consider that the CDC recently said between 2015 and 2019, more than 140,000 deaths per year are attributed to alcohol, including numerous cancers, fatal accidents, violent crimes, and suicides  all related to drinking. Meanwhile, a study on the National Institute of Health website showed that the mortality risk associated with cannabis was 114 times less than that of alcohol. The CDC doesn’t even have a category for deaths caused by cannabis use, because the association is lower than almost any other drug.

Death from overdose is all too common in alcohol, with nearly 2500 deaths per year due to alcohol poisoning. Drinking just 10 times the minimum amount of alcohol needed to get a buzz could lead to death. But cannabis has never led to a death from overdose! In fact, it would theoretically take thousands of times the minimum dose of marijuana to cause death. It’s fundamentally impossible to consume that much (but don’t try, please).

Death and injury from accidents are also negligible when comparing cannabis and alcohol. Research found that 36% of hospitalized assaults and 21% of all injuries are associated with alcohol. Meanwhile cannabis is rarely associated with ER visits. According to the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, that’s because “Cannabis does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior.” You’re not likely to see a high person starting a fight or doing something wildly dangerous!

Keep the Pros, Ditch the Cons

Maybe despite the warnings and risks, you’re still thinking that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to alcohol. Having a drink might be your choice to ease stress after a long day or to help you socialize at parties and events. But in this respect, you could actually use medical marijuana to quit drinking! While true alcoholism should be treated professionally, casual drinkers may find they can substitute the benefits of alcohol with cannabis without all the dangerous downsides.

A recent study showed that cannabis-based medicines could help improve generalized anxiety disorder, citing “significant changes in anxiety, health-related quality of life, and sleep quality”. Different doses and types of cannabis can help you get through a stressful day, sleep better at night, or find joy and laughter without the punishing physical toll of alcohol. Some strains can also be motivating and help give you the energy boost and mental clarity you need to get through any social event.

It’s No Secret, It’s Just Safe

All in all, if you’re starting the new year with a Dry January, you’re making a smart choice. But consider the benefits of swapping out your evening drink with a cannabis vape, edible, or another infused adult beverage. You don’t have to cut out marijuana to improve your physical and mental health, and studies are proving that you may even be doing your body a favor!

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