April Is Alcohol Awareness MonthWritten by Marijuana Cannaisseur on Apr 24, 2019
Nearly 17.6 million people across America suffer from alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder. Observed every April, Alcohol Awareness Month is aimed at building public awareness of the effects chronic alcohol use can have on the mind and body. While residential treatment is a well-known option for many, perhaps his month is the perfect time to discover how the use of another alternative can keep people away from alcohol.
Medical cannabis is used to treat many common medical ailments, including diabetes, anxiety, depression, ADD, and ADHD. However, it has proven an effective deterrent for people wishing to avoid exposure to alcohol. In some cases, it may be more effective than traditional treatment.
What is Alcohol Awareness Month? How does medical cannabis work to prevent alcohol use? Does it work for everyone? Consider this brief guide to medical cannabis as an alcohol deterrent for the answers to these questions and more.
What Is Alcohol Awareness Month?
Founded in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, or NCADD, Alcohol Awareness Month was primarily established to reduce the stigma faced by those suffering from alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder. Further, the month-long event encourages community organizations and community members to participate in activities designed to help them reach out to those with alcohol addiction in the community. In return, alcohol-related organizations provide the communities with reliable information about alcohol itself, the condition of alcohol addiction, and the process of recovery.
Primarily, NCADD desires to inform the public about the nature of alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease, influenced by a person’s genetics. Further, it is a chronic disease that can grow progressively more severe if left unchecked. Ultimately, alcoholism can result in liver failure, liver disease, kidney failure, kidney disease, heart conditions, diabetes, and brain injury, all of which can lead to death.
However, there is hope for recovery – as many as 20 million adults in the United States are living in the various stages of recovery every day. Although recovery is a lifelong process, those addicted to alcohol can achieve a meaningful recovery if they are able to successfully refrain from alcohol use. In this situation, many of the negative effects alcohol has on the body can potentially be reduced.
This Year’s Theme Is “Help for Today, Hope For Tomorrow”
In keeping with this year’s theme, “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow,” NCADD is focusing on interaction with community organizations to promote better understanding of the prevention and treatment of alcoholism. The organizations will continue to promote community events and activities geared towards awareness as well as helping ensure individuals are encouraged to seek treatment and help for their alcohol addiction.
One of the signature events at the beginning of the month is the Alcohol-Free Weekend, the first weekend of the month. During this weekend, designed to showcase just how much alcohol may be affecting you and your family, all Americans are encouraged to abstain from alcohol. However, you must do so with the advice of your physician.
Most treatment options include the ultimate goal of abstaining from alcohol use. However, alcohol is a dangerous substance to withdraw from without medical attention or medication assisted treatment (MAT). While traditional treatment methods include attending group meetings, inpatient treatment centers, and outpatient treatment programs, most supervised by medical professionals, April is the perfect month to discuss yet another option for scaling back and eventually eliminating alcohol use – medical marijuana.
How Can Medical Cannabis Help Curb Alcohol Use?
Whether you’ve participated in an alcohol-free weekend or want to cease drinking alcohol indefinitely, medical marijuana may provide you with the boost you need to continue to abstain. Most Americans suffering alcohol addiction need this “boost” for continued sobriety. In fact, just over half of all people who begin a treatment program relapse before the first six months are up. The prospects are worse for those who intend to quit drinking on their own, and many cite the side effects of withdrawal as the number one reason for returning to alcohol.
In an effort to damper the effects of alcohol withdrawal, physicians often prescribe benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, these drugs may themselves prove addictive, compounding an already serious addiction problem. The problem remains two-sided, then – how do you refrain from consuming alcohol and reduce cravings, while avoiding addiction to another substance?
Medical cannabis proponents suggest utilizing cannabis to curb the urge to drink on a one-to-one basis. Simply put, when you find yourself feeling the urge to drink alcohol, either smoke or ingest medical cannabis instead. This procedure, known as Marijuana Maintenance, has multiple effects on the mechanisms of addiction.
First, the actual use of cannabis at the time a craving for alcohol hits allows the user to continue to take action to fulfill the craving. Although you are not drinking, you are still ingesting something to ease the craving, which may provide satisfaction unfulfilled by pharmaceutical medication. Second, the feelings of the cravings themselves may be curbed by the effects of the cannabis, which may reduce future cravings by acting in the same way as benzodiazepines.
Finally, the calming psychological effects of medical cannabis have been proven to address symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other stressors that may lead to alcohol use in the first place. Mild relief of these conditions may be what you were seeking when you began to drink. Medical cannabis aids in this relief without producing the side effects or addictive properties of pharmaceutical medications.
Who Should Use Medical Cannabis As An Alcohol Deterrent?
If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, you may be able to receive medical cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of alcoholism and withdrawal. As always, tapering off alcohol use is much safer than simply ceasing use cold turkey, and the medical risks of abrupt stoppage are many. However, alcohol use reduction tempered by medical cannabis may be a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals as well as cold turkey.
It is important that you speak with your physician about the specific characteristics of your alcohol abuse, and whether you may benefit from a medical cannabis regimen. However, medical cannabis may provide you with the help and relief of your symptoms today you need to approach this Alcohol Awareness Month with hope for tomorrow.