Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs — Amanda Reiman

«Substitution can be operationalized as the conscious choice to use one drug (legal or illicit) instead of, or in conjunction with, another due to issues such as: perceived safety; level of addiction potential; effectiveness in relieving symptoms; access and level of acceptance. This practice of substitution has been observed among individuals using cannabis for medical purposes. This study examined drug and alcohol use, and the occurrence of substitution among medical cannabis patients. […]

The substitution of one psychoactive substance for another with the goal of reducing negative outcomes can be included within the framework of harm reduction. Medical cannabis patients have been engaging in substitution by using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs.»


40% of Medical Marijuana Patients Use Cannabis to Control Alcohol Cravings —by John Lee

«A University of California, Berkley researcher says that almost half of medical marijuana patients at a Berkley marijuana dispensary are using cannabis to control alcohol cravings and suggests marijuana substitution as a “radical new alcohol treatment”.

According to Amanda Reiman, from the University of California, Berkley a significant percentage of medical marijuana dispensary clients are using marijuana, at least in part, as medication to control alcohol cravings.

In determining this, Reiman polled 350 patients who were clients of the Berkely Patient’s Group, a marijuana dispensary. She found that:

  • 40% were using marijuana, at least in part, as a medication to relieve alcohol cravings

  • 66% used marijuana as a preferable alternative to prescription medications

  • 65% used marijuana because it had fewer adverse side effects than alcohol, prescription medications or illicit drugs

  • 34% used marijuana because it caused fewer withdrawal symptoms

Reiman says that although many people would consider giving marijuana to alcoholics to be, “a radical treatment approach” that marijuana has fewer negative side effects than heavy drinking and “that substitution might be a viable alternative to abstinence for those who can’t or won’t completely stop using psychoactive substances.”»