The Teenage Mind

The internal experience of the young adult

Which Is Worse for Your Health: Marijuana or Alcohol?

Marijuana or Alcohol?

Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are widely imbibed in the U.S. They are used recreationally, socially, and even to de-stress. Due to the widespread and legal use of alcohol, it is often compared to marijuana, which is illegal in the U.S. Defenders of pot often say it is not as bad as alcohol and alcohol is legal. Why isn't marijuana legal? This is a good point. Is it true? Which is worse for your health, marijuana or alcohol? To answer this question, I went to the DSM-IV.

Here is what I found:

Prolonged and consistent use of alcohol affects nearly every organ of the body, especially the gastrointestinal track, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system. Alcohol is a contributing factor in gastritis, ulcers, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, hypertension, muscle weakness, and memory impairment. Other symptoms include: Tremor, unsteady gait, insomnia, and erectile dysfunction. In pregnant women, drinking can lead to abortion or fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects. Drinkers fall more and cause accidents. Alcohol is related to 55% of fatal auto accidents. Half of all murderers and their victims are believed to involve alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol leads to disinhibition of feelings of sadness and aggression which can lead to suicide.

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Cannabis, on the other hand, increases appetite, dry mouth, tachycardia, euphoria, sedation and a slowed sense of time. It can also cause a chronic cough or throat problems due to smoking.

OK. These are the symptoms and consequences of cannabis and alcohol according to the DSM-IV, the bible of the psychiatric community. Now, that you have read them yourself, what do you think?

Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine.


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