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How Cannabis Can Help You Cut Back on Alcohol and Live Healthier

January 14, 2016

When I first met cannabis, I virtually ended my relationship with alcohol entirely.

Breaking it off with the bottle wasn’t intentional; it was just a consequence of having something that offered similar stress-relieving qualities without the stomach aches, the hangovers, or the loss of control. Where alcohol offered an escape from the senses, cannabis made me appreciate every sensation and experience I could possibly take in. It brought back long-lost creativity and meaningful sociality, and motivated me to take better care of my physical self.

So why hadn’t I found this match made in heaven sooner? Simply put, I truly thought cannabis harmed the body and eroded the mind. The stigmatic differences between alcohol and cannabis was the only thing that led me to believe drinking was the favorable option.

The Medical Minute: Cannabis is Exactly 114 Times Less Toxic than Alcohol

As 2015 rolled into the New Year, a friend of mine sent me this e-book. It’s a short digital booklet that challenges you to take a “cannabis cleanse” – not in the sense that you’re ridding your body of cannabis. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, this guide shows you how to shed undesirable habits with (or without, up to you!) the help of cannabis.

 

A New Kind of Cleanse

Cannabis buds on a wooden table

The e-book, called Coming Clean with Cannabis, is a delightful encapsulation of one of life’s beautiful ironies: that this plant – this stigmatized natural anomaly – can help guide you to a healthier life, and you don’t even have to be a qualified medical marijuana patient to reap its benefits.

In talking with the book’s creators, Jane West and Kristen Williams, it was clear that this is a story common in many lives. “When I finally gave cannabis a chance only a few years back, I realized that the negative perceptions people have about this plant are misguided, and that it can actually benefit a lot of people in extraordinary ways,” Kristen said. “I hope this book helps to change perspectives on prohibition and encourages people to incorporate cannabis into their lives in a way that benefits their overall health and wellness.”

The book introduces the basics of cannabis from its effects on the body to choosing the right strain for your needs. Some of the 101-level information may not be new to you, but the importance comes with the challenge: how can you be more aware of what you’re putting in your body, whether that’s cannabis, alcohol, or food? And how can these habits promote other health-conscience lifestyle decisions such as socializing, exercise, or meditation? As Jane puts it, “This is the only body you will ever have," so why not make taking care of it a top priority?

 

Cannabis and Alcohol in Social Contexts

A man and a woman sharing a cannabis joint

Jane and Kristen’s book approaches health in a holistic way, but one recurring and central theme is alcohol consumption. This is an interesting concept because, in a lot of ways, people use alcohol in different ways than they do cannabis. For me, both cannabis and alcohol were social activities and stress relievers, but not everyone would agree with that. In fact, many find cannabis to worsen anxiety and discourage social behavior. What a majority of people don’t realize is, not all cannabis strains are created equal and not all may have this effect.

“Cannabis isn't for everyone, but I know from my own personal experience that strains play a large role in your experience with it,” Kristen said. “Strains high in THC can produce anxious feelings, whereas strains high in CBD are much more mentally calming. If you've had an experience where cannabis induced anxiety instead of alleviating it, I would recommend trying a small dose (a fraction of what's considered 'typical') of a strain high in CBD and seeing how that affects you.”

Jane added, “As the social use of cannabis is normalized and perceptions change, people may feel less and less anxious about their use or ‘being high’ which will elevate their experiences.”

Yes, the social experience of cannabis today is quite unlike that of alcohol. You can’t consume it in public places or bars. Non-smokers are typically deterred from cannabis altogether. And, the biggest reason of them all, it’s still illegal in most places. The exciting part is that these reasons are slowly being torn down. For example, Alaska just introduced cannabis cafes, smoke-free delivery methods are on the rise, and, hallelujah, cannabis prohibition is meeting its doom one state at a time.

 

Ready to Take on the Cleanse?

Glass cork jars filled with cannabis

We may be halfway through January, but it isn’t too late to make a resolution for a healthier 2016. If you’re feeling inspired to take on the cleanse and practice more mindful living, flip through this book Jane and Kristen put together. I’ve never been good at cleanses or much of anything that requires a great deal of self-discipline, but as mentioned in the book, drive yourself to do anything for just 30 days and those healthier habits become a lot easier to integrate into your everyday living.

“We wanted to design a cleanse that would stick with people long-term instead of one that would inspire celebration after its long-awaited ending, and we didn't want it to be focused entirely on weight loss,” Kristen said. “While weight loss a perfectly valid reason to cleanse, we feel that the real goal behind a cleanse is to become better at making good choices for your body. We also wrote the cleanse principles in a way that makes it clear the reader is choosing to take action instead of just following a list of rules, something that's hard to do much longer than a month.”

Not everyone will feel like they can or want to substitute alcohol with cannabis, which is totally fine. You don’t need an exclusive relationship with one or the other. The point is to be educated on what options are available to you because, who knows, those options might revolutionize your life for the long haul.

How Have Alcohol Sales Been Impacted Since Cannabis Legalization? You'd Be Surprised

How has cannabis impacted your wellness? Let’s hear your story in the comments section, or take our poll below.

Image Source: Mason Jar Event Group

  • barbz

    Why does it say that no medical card is needed to obtain the strain that helps a person quit alcohol, and who would I talk to about it?

  • hab13

    I have to say this is very similar to my experiences, about a year and half ago I decided to make some changes in my life (around that 50 year mark) I have 2 ruptured disks in my back and always dealt with pain in many different methods but alcohol always was a big part of it. Beer, wine or whiskey would flow most days and though I don’t think I was an alcoholic I knew I drank to much then as I got older other health problems came up diabetes, cholesterol, high triglycerides etc. My doctor was there to offer the medications normally prescribed but also advised me that alcohol contributed to a lot of my issues. I decided to give cannabis a try for pain relief, it was great and when I was able to get some higher cbd strains life was awesome. During this experimentation period I tried different strains, different methods to figure out what gave me good relief without being a zombie and found a good combination with even thc/cbd ratios. During this period I was really into the experimenting and I could see huge changes I was blasting out of bed in the mornings, my energy levels increased I was going for 2 hour walks started loosing weight, falling asleep which was always difficult became a breeze, and generally feeling great. Then after a while I realized I had no urges to drink alcohol and I was going days weeks, months with out consuming it. I had no withdrawal symptoms and no struggles/slips it was like a switch was turned off in my head for alcohol. Fast forward a year and did my blood tests again and everything was hugely improved with no concerns moving forward. Now I have a beer, or a glass of wine maybe once a month and the weird part for me is that before one was never enough and now I feel like I can’t physically drink 3-4 drinks. Anyways I couldn’t be happier and I am probably in the best shape I have been for 30 years.

  • Paul Mathews

    For me alcohol was a major problem. Knowing cannabis was there for me was a major factor in me finally deciding to quit.

  • viper643

    Due to a cervical neuropathy condition, my neurologist diagnosed me as a functional alcoholic. But confirming that alcohol was good for what ails me. Except the liver damage . With his diagnosis of chronic pain I became a MMJ card member. My consumption of alcohol has on average gone from a twelve pack/day to 3 cans/day.