A recent study has found that people who consume alcohol and weed together are more exposed to such alcohol-related problems as drunken driving and health issues than people who only drink alcohol. The study was presented last month at the Meeting of the American Public Health Association.
The research was based on the survey conducted in Washington. The recreational use of marijuana in the state was legalized in 2012. Among the leading researchers of the study, there was Meenakshi Subbaraman, a biostatistician at the Californian Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group.
People were asked to share their experience of marijuana and alcohol use during the last year and the related problems they had faced. The survey includes the data from more than 2,000 people. About 70 percent of respondents reported the consumption of only alcohol, 18 percent used weed and alcohol simultaneously, and 13 admitted using both marijuana and alcohol separately.
The survey shows a very interesting tendency. Those people who used the substances separately or drank only alcohol reported fewer problems than those who consumed both at once. The latter admit drinking more frequently and consuming larger amounts of alcohol. The researchers say that these people are at a greater risk of having alcohol-related problems. The survey shows that simultaneous users are more likely to experience liquor-related financial and health problems compared to those people who consume only alcohol.
In 2015, the same group of researchers conducted a similar study that included the data gathered throughout all 50 states. According to the study results, people who used both substances together were more likely to drive drunk than those who consumed them separately. The latest study did not detect this difference between the risks of drunk driving in the two groups. The reason for that may be the insufficient number of participants. That is why future research has to take this question into account and examine it more closely.
Further investigation is needed to study the respondent's reports over time because the current research was done at a single point in time. That is why the results cannot claim that the increase of risks is 100 percent the result of the simultaneous use. Subbaraman says that people who use two substances together may simply be more impulsive or consume them only in certain locations, like parties and various gatherings.
The survey also shows that the participants who consume alcohol and marijuana separately are not at a greater risk of alcohol-related problems than those who use only alcohol. According to the researchers, people can minimize the risks by consuming the substances separately. Besides, policymakers should consider the introduction of warning labels about the possible risks of simultaneous use.