Have you ever wondered, is weed more dangerous than alcohol? Or maybe the other way around? If so, this is the right place to find answers.

This article discusses the differences between these two substances, along with the impacts and associated risks. So, get ready as we try to find out which is more dangerous – weed or alcohol.


Differences Between Weed and Alcohol

Marijuana and alcohol are two different substances that have distinct classifications and effects on the body. Medline defines marijuana, also known as cannabis or weed, as a green, brown, or grey mix of dried, crumbled parts from the marijuana plant. The plant contains chemicals which act on your brain and can change your mood or consciousness. It contains compounds called cannabinoids, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the most well-known and psychoactive component.

Marijuana is typically classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in many countries, indicating that it’s considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. However, the legal status of marijuana varies from one region to another, with some countries legalising its recreational and medicinal use. Some of the most common effects of marijuana include impaired judgment, giddiness, altered perception of time, pain relief, dry mouth, nausea, and increased hunger.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a psychoactive substance produced through the fermentation of sugars by yeast with dependence-producing properties that have been widely used in many cultures for centuries. The harmful use of alcohol causes a high burden of disease and has significant social and economic consequences. Alcohol is generally considered a legal substance for adults in most countries, and its sale and consumption are regulated. However, it is also recognised as a potentially addictive substance, and its abuse can lead to serious health and social issues.

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. As alcohol is a depressant, it affects the central nervous system, slowing down brain activity and causing a range of physical and psychological effects. Healthline explains that the feeling of intoxication is different for every person. However, some common short-term effects include impaired judgement, drowsiness, restlessness, nausea, relaxation, poor coordination, and giddiness.


Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Weed vs Alcohol

The effects that marijuana has on the body can be both short term and long term. Medline explains that some of the short-term effects are changes in mood, relaxation, increased appetite, problems with body movement, altered senses, altered sense of time, and trouble with memory and problem-solving. In the long term, marijuana can cause health problems such as poor brain development, coughing and breathing problems, and dependency on the substance.

The effects of alcohol can vary depending on factors such as the amount consumed, the frequency of use, individual tolerance levels, and overall health. Some of the most common short-term effects of alcohol are euphoria and relaxation, slurred speech and blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, mood swings or aggression, impaired judgement and coordination, and alcohol poisoning.

Long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption can include liver damage, cardiovascular issues, neurological problems, and, similarly to marijuana, addiction and dependence, and mental health disorders.

It’s important to note that individual responses to alcohol and to marijuana can vary significantly, and some people may be more sensitive to its effects than others. Moderate consumption may not lead to any significant health issues for some individuals, but heavy and long-term use can have severe consequences, both physically and psychologically.


Risks and Harms of Weed and Alcohol

Marijuana use, like any psychoactive substance, carries potential risks and harms, especially when used excessively. While some argue that it has medicinal benefits, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential negative effects it can have on individuals. Marijuana can affect brain function, particularly in adolescents and young adults whose brains are still developing. Frequent or heavy use may lead to difficulties with attention, memory, learning, and decision-making skills. Research suggests that this impairment can affect academic and work performance and overall cognitive abilities.

Smoking marijuana, just like smoking tobacco, can harm the lungs and respiratory system. It can lead to chronic bronchitis symptoms, chronic cough, and an increased risk of lung infections. While marijuana may not be as physically addictive as some other substances, it can still lead to psychological dependence, especially in those who use it regularly or in high doses. Dependence on marijuana can interfere with daily life, relationships, and responsibilities, making it challenging for individuals to quit despite negative consequences.

Alcohol use, though socially accepted in many parts of the world, can pose significant risks and harms to individuals and society at large. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, and conditions such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure can result from chronic alcohol abuse. These conditions can be life-threatening and may require medical intervention, including a possible liver transplant.

Alcohol is also a major contributing factor to various accidents, including car crashes, falls, drownings, and fires. Alcohol impairs coordination and reaction times, making it more likely for individuals to engage in dangerous activities and increasing the risk of accidents with severe or fatal consequences. Like marijuana, alcohol has the potential to be highly addictive. Regular and heavy drinking can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it challenging to control or stop alcohol consumption. Alcohol addiction can have severe consequences on a person’s physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.


Alcohol Vs Weed – Which Substance Is the Most Addictive?

Based on the research and statistics available, alcohol is thought to be more addictive with much higher associated risks, thus, more dangerous. However, comparing the potential for addiction and dependency between alcohol or weed is a complex task, as both substances may impact individuals differently and can lead to various outcomes depending on frequency and dosage of use, genetic factors, and individual vulnerabilities. While being intoxicated with weed feels different than being intoxicated with alcohol, the two have roughly the same effect on your cognitive abilities, reflexes, and judgment.

You can develop a psychological dependency on marijuana due to its mood-altering effects. Some individuals may use marijuana as a coping mechanism for stress or emotional issues, which can lead to habit-forming behaviours. Alcohol can also lead to psychological dependency, with users relying on it to relax, socialise, or cope with life’s challenges. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are particularly associated with an increased risk of psychological dependency.

Withdrawal symptoms are typically more severe and even life-threatening when quitting alcohol compared to quitting marijuana. Alcohol withdrawal poses the risk of tremors, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and delirium tremens. Both marijuana and alcohol can lead to addiction and dependency, but alcohol generally poses a higher risk for physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms.


Find Help For Addiction Today

If you are struggling with a weed or alcohol addiction, we can help you achieve lasting recovery.

At Ocean Recovery, we offer comprehensive rehabilitation treatments with a fast admissions process for both alcohol and cannabis addiction. Our team create entirely bespoke plans that are tailored to your unique needs, which helps us to provide the best quality of care to anyone who seeks support from us. Reach out today to discuss the options we have available for you.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: August 4, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.