Alcohol, marijuana and tobacco are definitely to be avoided. But if you do smoke or drink, you should do it with your eyes open, knowing the affect it has on your health. With marijuana being legally available in many places, the debate is whether it is safe to consume it on a regular basis like. How much of each substance can be consumed so that it does not cause serious harm? And out of the three, which is the lesser evil? Find out what alcohol vs. marijuana vs. cigarette debate says.
Alcohol vs. marijuana: which is worse?
It is difficult to compare alcohol and marijuana as they are two completely different substances. Both are intoxicating but in different ways and their use (or abuse pattern is also different). While talking about alcohol vs. marijuana, you must know that both can affect the body negatively. There are long-term and short-term effects on the body caused by both. There have been 88,000 deaths due to alcohol every year according to CDC, but marijuana related death statistics are not available. Research into the ill-effects of marijuana is still quite less, compared to the studies available of alcohol.
Short-term effects on health
Alcohol poisoning or drinking too much alcohol at one go leads to death, as the body cannot metabolize alcohol quickly. Alcohol build-up leads to the brain shutting down major areas such as those controlling respiration and heartbeats. A person can die 5 minutes after binge drinking, but it seems that overuse of alcohol does not have the same effect. So in terms of short-term overuse, alcohol is worse than marijuana.
Smoking joints has subtler effect on health, as it affects the cardiovascular system, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. But marijuana does not lead to fatally overdosing like alcohol. In a recent study, it was found that for a person to have excessive levels of TCH (the chemical in marijuana), he/she would have to smoke anywhere between 238-1,113 joints in one day to overdose. That is quite a large number of joints to be smoked by anyone at one go, which is why maybe the fatality due to marijuana is next to nothing.
Alcohol reacts with certain medicines
While comparing alcohol vs. marijuana, we have to point out that alcohol reacts with some drugs, which means that if you’re on some medications and drink, then alcohol can decrease or increase the levels of that medication in your body, which can be toxic.
Crime due to tobacco and marijuana smoking and alcohol
According to statistics, alcohol is the substance which can lead to someone being hurt under the influence or hurting other people, causing destruction of property etc. Domestic violence has been linked to alcohol, but not to smoking cigarettes or marijuana. So comparing cigarette vs. alcohol vs. marijuana for committing crimes, alcohol comes out as being the worst.
On the other hand, one study conducted on the use of marijuana concluded that couples who use/d marijuana had lower rates of partner violence, especially in the first years of being together. Men who are in the habit of smoking joints were found to be least likely for committing a violent act against their spouse.
There is no question that drunk driving is dangerous and has led to many deaths, and other serious injuries of people. But we don’t see many signs warning not to drive when stoned. Apart from alcohol, marijuana is the drug which is most commonly detected in drivers causing car accidents. A study found marijuana increases the odds of car accidents by about 83%.
And the odds of being in an accident due to alcohol increases by more than 2,200%! And when both alcohol and marijuana are in the system, you can imagine the risk a person is in. So not driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana or both is the only solution.
Alcohol has been proved to be extremely harmful to the child developing in the womb. When pregnant mothers drink alcohol, it can have terrible long-lasting effects on the baby, including behavioral, intellectual and physical deformities. In fact, there is a medical term for these deformities, called the FASDs or (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders), and CDC says no amount of alcohol is safe for babies.
Second hand tobacco smoke as well as smoking harms fetuses too. And marijuana is not safe to be used during pregnancy either, as it could be the reason for low birth-weight. It will take many more studies to determine the exactly how marijuana abuse can harm unborn children.
So in the alcohol vs. marijuana vs. cigarettes debate, all three should be avoided by pregnant women.
Memory and learning
Many people have experienced ‘blackouts’ due to binge drinking the night before. They don’t remember what they were doing or where they were. Alcohol robs a person of making the right judgment call, which they would have done otherwise. This leads to all kinds of risky behavior, including drunk driving and unprotected intercourse.
Alcohol might stop forming new memories. Comparing alcohol vs. marijuana, it has been found that both contribute to memory impairment. They cause changes in the brain which may increase risk of having psychological problems later in life.
So alcohol and marijuana seem to be worse than cigarettes.
What about the dangers of cigarette and marijuana on lungs?
Passive tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke from marijuana can damage the lungs of people around you. Cigarette smoking does more harm because people smoke more cigarettes per day than joints. If people smoked the same amount of joints then they would damage their lungs and that of others to the same extent as cigarette smoke.
A latest study of cigarettes and marijuana conducted on rats found that smoke from cigarettes caused the rat’s arteries to return to normal after 30 minutes, whereas marijuana smoke caused their arteries to come back to normal after 90 minutes. Thinking marijuana is ‘safe’ because it’s natural is a myth.
In the debate about cigarette vs. alcohol vs. marijuana, the worst could be alcohol. Consumed excessively, all three are harmful for psychological and physical health, and the best way is to kick all three habits or use them in an extremely controlled manner.