How Cannabis Can Help You Cut Back on Alcohol and Live Healthier
By Bailey Rahn
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
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
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?
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.