Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Alcoholism is an addiction that manifests for individuals with an uncontrollable desire to drink alcoholic beverages. Binge drinking or consuming abnormally high levels of alcohol can lead to mental and physical health effects, taking a toll on the patient’s general sense of well-being. Because alcoholism is the top cause of alcohol dependency, it’s crucial to examine the symptoms and side effects of this illness to assist patients on their road to recovery.
Patients with alcoholism often feel a lack of control in their consumption of alcohol. For many, this extreme impulse to drink can create many adverse effects, including mental and physical health issues. Alcohol dependency can induce feelings of isolation that result in mental health disorders. In addition, ingesting high levels of alcohol can catalyze coordination difficulties, gastrointestinal issues, liver failure and more.
To help lessen the effects of alcohol dependency, patients should consult with a health professional first. A trained physician can assist patients in the process of successfully tapering off alcoholic substances. Patients should also consider a form of mental health therapy, as well. In conjunction with these measures, those dependent on alcohol may find success in managing their symptoms when pursuing a medicinal treatment plan.
When an individual experiences excessive craving for alcohol or alcoholic substances, it’s crucial to understand the source of these urges. Alcohol-dependent patients may find their disorder arises from the following:
For some, the root cause of alcohol dependency may not be immediately evident. However, as researchers and scientists continue to explore the functionality of the endocannabinoid system, it is very likely that health professionals will continue to examine and understand how the body’s internal receptors and cannabinoids influence urges to consume alcohol.
The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in ensuring the body obtains homeostasis, a state that guarantees the body can function normally while responding appropriately to internal and external factors.
CB1 receptors scattered throughout the endocannabinoid system ensure the brain receives proper signaling for daily responses, including desires and cravings. In patients with alcohol dependency, the irregularity of these receptors can stimulate unwarranted urges for excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol dependency is best treated with prescriptions that target the cause of alcohol cravings. These various medications can diminish urges that lead to dependence on this substance, paving the way for the road to recovery. Medical marijuana offers patients a potentially successful way to control these impulses for alcohol dependency by altering the body’s functions.
Cannabis has only recently found acceptance from the medical community due to its prior stigma as a “gateway drug.” Although individuals may find it counterintuitive to fight off one dependency by initiating another, this reasoning is false. In fact, medical marijuana has little to no adverse effect on most patients and can help them effectively manage their addictions.
How exactly does it work? The cannabinoids within marijuana, such as cannabidiol (CBD), stimulate neuronal circuits and receptors scattered throughout the body’s endocannabinoid system. As previously mentioned, the endocannabinoid system and its receptors may be imbalanced in patients experiencing alcohol dependency. CBD provokes positive interactions that can help the endocannabinoid system get back on track.
The active components of marijuana can also induce a satisfying feeling that curbs cravings. Certain cannabinoids can create a “feel good” reaction in the brain that decreases one’s appetite for alcohol in the process.
The severity of these symptoms will often depend on one’s drinking tendencies and the length of time they’ve dealt with alcoholism. Because alcoholism can gradually progress and worsen over time, it’s essential to find a form of treatment that effectively helps the patient recover from drinking urges.
Please note that finding the ideal treatment for alcoholism will often depend on each individual’s needs and should be done under the supervision of a certified health professional to avoid adverse side effects.
As researchers, scientists and medical professionals continue to expand their knowledge on medical marijuana and its therapeutic benefits for many health conditions, hundreds of cannabis strains and varieties have become more readily accessible to those who need it most.
Many states scattered throughout the nation now permit medical cannabis use for mental health conditions, too. If you or a loved one are currently experiencing the symptoms of alcoholism, consider contacting a marijuana doctor in your area today. Once approved, you’ll have access to the alternative medicine prescriptions you need to find relief.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat alcoholism, check out our resources: