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Pot smokers 5 times likelier to turn into alcoholics

Washington: Marijuana use can increase the risk for developing an addiction to other drugs or alcohol by almost fivefold, according to a new study.

The study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York found that pot smokers are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol abuse or dependence, compared with adults who do not use the drug and adults, who already have an alcohol use disorder and use marijuana, are more likely to see the problem persist.

Researcher Renee Goodwin said that the results suggest that cannabis use appears to be associated with an increased vulnerability to developing an alcohol use disorder, even among those without any history of this. Marijuana use also appears to increase the likelihood that an existing alcohol use disorder will continue over time.

The researchers analysed data from 27,461 adults enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions who first used marijuana at a time when they had no lifetime history of alcohol use disorders. The population was assessed at two time points.

Adults who had used marijuana at the first assessment and again over the following three years (23 percent) were five times more likely to develop an alcohol use problem, compared with those who had not used marijuana (5 percent). Adult problem drinkers who did not use cannabis were significantly more likely to be in recovery from alcohol use disorders three years later.

Goodwin noted that if future research confirms these findings, investigating whether preventing or delaying first use of marijuana might reduce the risk of developing alcohol use disorders among some segments of the population may be worthwhile.

The study appears online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. (ANI)