Study: Those Who Use Pot and Alcohol Are More Likely To Know of Health Risks Than Those Who Abstain


Credit: gigi galiazzo / Foter / CC BY

Perhaps unsurprisingly a study published in the International Journal of Public Health last month suggests that people who use marijuana and alcohol are more likely to be aware of the health risks associated with their substance of choice than those who choose to abstain.

From Live Science:

Users of marijuana and alcohol may be savvier about the health risks posed by these substances than those who abstain, new research suggests.

The findings, which were drawn from a large sample of Swiss men, showed that men who frequently used marijuana, alcohol and tobacco sought out information about the health risks of those substances more than those who didn't use them.

According to Petra Dermota, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, increased knowledge of the substance you are consuming does not necessarily mean that you will consume less of the substance.

One of the more notable findings of the study is that anti-drug campaigns are not that ineffective:

The findings suggest that substance-abuse prevention campaigns may need to be tweaked. It may be that the long-term consequences, such as lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, are simply too far away to have much of an impact on people's immediate decisions, Dermota said. Or, it may be that drug users believe the alcohol or marijuana's benefits outweigh the risks.

Instead, anti-drug messages should be more interactive, and spur critical thinking about the drugs to change people's attitudes about drug use, Dermota said.

"At the moment, most campaigns are just giving young people a lot of information, but this is not enough to prevent people from being at risk and using drugs," Dermota said.

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  1. The health risks of abstaining?

    1. Psychotic break.

      The most nervous, high strung guy I know is a tee-totaler.

      1. Are you talking about me? Are you? I’LL FUCKING CUT YOU PAUL.

        1. You can’t cut me more than you already have with your sarcasm, Hugh…

          *chin trembling*

    2. Best advice I ever got came from my grandfather whom lived to be 99. He told me at a very young age to never smoke, drink, do drugs, or cavort with womenz…

      until I was at least 12.

      That’s how you live to get old ladies.

  2. I’m not surprised as using drugs and alcohol is the only way to total enlightenment.

  3. It may be that the long-term consequences, such as lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, are simply too far away

    Or that statistically, casual smoking and drinking doesn’t change your risk. It isn’t a linear risk scale.

  4. Since I choose to abstain, what motivation do I have to become well-informed about the health risks of partaking?

    1. That depends on why you choose to abstain. If you abstain because you simply don’t like a substance, don’t want to spend money on it, etc. then yeah. If you abstain for health reasons, then it would seem that you should be fairly knowledgeable about the health risks.

      1. If you abstain for health reasons, then it would seem that you should be fairly knowledgeable about the health risks.


        “I don’t swim in the ocean because of sharks”

        “I don’t use a microwave oven because of radiation”

        “I don’t drink even a drop because of liver disease”

        These statements are misguided, but hypothetical people who might say them can just be left alone, right?

        1. Well yeah, because continuing the conversation with someone that has no capacity for rational thought on the subject is useless.

          1. That’s a good point – my examples were too extreme.

          2. The people with no capacity for rational thought tend to be the most statist, which means that if you leave them alone, they’re not likely to reciprocate that, but instead try and get swimming/microwaves/alcohol banned for everybody else because they don’t like it.

            Just something to keep in mind.

            1. If you’re swimming with alcoholic sharks, better bring a microwave.

        2. Notice I said “should be.” I’m not saying there aren’t irrational people out there, and I’m certainly not saying that people who abstain from alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be left alone

    2. Bingo. People abstain from these sorts of mind-altering substances (“soft drugs” like pot, booze, even caffeine) mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with health risks. Hell, there’s a million studies out there now about how a glass of wine or a beer a day is actually good for you, but nobody dutifully chugs down one (1) glass of red wine on that basis.

      1. Actually, my grandfather, who doesn’t care for wine and stopped social drinking years and years ago (he’s 90) was doing this for while, solely because it was supposed to be good for you. So he would drink one glass of red wine per night.

        1. Yeah, but your bloodline doesn’t count as people.

          1. I’m half human!

        2. According to the family lore, my great grandfather, who was a teetotaler, had his doctor recommend that he take a little brandy before bed, so he had a little medicine bottle of brandy in the medicine cupboard and woudl dutifully consume his tablespoon of brandy each night.

        3. Little old lady that lived next to my parents had two beers before bed every night. She liked beer, I think she had liked it a lot more in your youth, but for the last 40 or so years of her life, thats all she had, two before bed for health reasons.

          She was in her mid 90s when she died.

          1. If two beers a night gets you to 90, imagine how far 15 beers’ll get ya!

            *chugs beer*

      2. My mom never touched the stuff when I was growing up, but now she drinks a glass of red a night for that very reason, my dad has a beer every night for the same reason, and I never see him drink outside of the house.

      3. My reasons are mostly due to alcoholism in my family.

        I’m not sure if “alcohol kills men in my family” is a misguided health objection or not. The ‘facts’ about moderate drinking don’t matter to me much, since my concern is that, like my grandfather and my father, I won’t be able to keep the drinking moderate.

      4. Two glasses for you penis bearers!

        1. I want the cleveland browns to be my penis bearers…

          So they can let me down one last time.

      5. And yet if the alcohol companies tried to advertise this, the nanny staters would have a shit fit.

        It never ceases to amaze me that when it comes to sex education, the attitude is “Of course they’re going to have sex and how dare you suggest that teaching them about it will encourage them. What kind of freak are you?”; but if you suggested that the kids are going to drink anyhow, so why not teach them to drink responsibly (and lower the drinking age to 18 so it’s not such a forbidden fruit), people treat you like you’re an evil monster.

  5. It is truly shocking that someone who actually uses an item would know more about its effects then those who don’t use it.

    Next you’ll tell me that pro-gun advocates know more about firearms, firearm safety, and the impact of gun bans than the people who have never seen a gun.

    1. You expressed what I was going to post almost exactly.

      1. Like atheists not needing to be familiar with the bible… except they are usually more familiar with it. My bad–analogy fail

        1. Anyone can read a book and say “That might be bullshit.”

        2. Not really. People make their decisions based on what they. I know that most of what has been preached about drugs and alcohol is bullshit and most of wahts been preached about the bible is bullshit too.

        3. A lot of athiests are like recovering alcoholics. And recovering alcoholics know more about alcohol than anybody.

          1. People who swing from one extreme to the other seldom do so because of their extensive knowledge. For reference, see every teenager ever born.

            Sometimes humans just suck at nuance.

    2. Yeah, I was just gonna go with duh

    3. It is truly shocking that someone who actually uses an item would know more about its effects then those who don’t use it.

      Though technically that is exactly what this article says, one should be able to reasonably stretch the thought. If most people who don’t use a substance know dick about said substance because there is no real incentive to learn about said substance, then those same people should also shut the fuck up when trying to tell others about the dangers of said substance.

      A guy who has gotten high once will know far more about weed than the politician who has studied it for decades while advocating policy based on those studies.

  6. Drug are bad, mmmkay?

    1. No one needs Viagra.

      1. YOu can say that again.

    2. No one needs viagra

      1. fookin’ skwirrelzez

        1. It’s not even three-o-clock.

  7. “At the moment, most campaigns are just giving young people a lot of information…”

    Most of which is false. Why don’t they understand that their lies backfire? I mean, they give all these horror stories about marijuana, and when a kid actually tries it they discover that most of what they were told was simply untrue. That sets the young person down the path of choosing between morality and the law. Now if the young person’s morality is questionable or nonexistent, then you end up creating a thug who is dangerous to society, who may have otherwise been a mostly law abiding citizen.

  8. Speaking of people who use drugs and alcohol, it’s good to be Charlie Sheen.…..d-him.html

    1. And that, my friend, is the perfect argument for not abstaining from drugs.

    2. Variety: it’s the spice of life.

    3. You can rag on Charlie all you want, but the dude knows how to live.

      1. Dude, a brunette, blonde AND ginger.

        Sigh. My life will never be that good.

        1. “I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

          Greatest. Quote. Of. All. Time.

        2. And a hot ginger…

        3. Something about those pigtails on the ginger…..

    4. That seems like a better argument to be rich. But wow, that redhead.

    5. I wonder where they got those strapless bras that just kinda float there?

    6. from the dailymail:

      “The actor’s former wife Denise Richards has been taking care of his four-year-old twins after his ex-wife Brooke Mueller lost custody in May due to her drug use.”

      Too bad he’s such a shitty father.

  9. “. . . Or, it may be that drug users believe the alcohol or marijuana’s benefits outweigh the risks.”

    Sort of like with every other thing we choose to do?

    1. Um, no. Because you’re all mindless sheep driven by corporate propaganda and false consciousness and patriarchy. Duh.


      1. You forgot BUSHFAGS!!!!!111

  10. OT, but related to health. The most unintentionally revealing progressive comment of the day (so far):

    You know, I think I’d rather have my healthcare guided by a vision of the common good rather than maximizing profits for private corporations… But that’s just me.

    Imagine an entire country filled with people so willing to slap the chains on themselves.

    1. Imagine an entire country filled with people so willing to slap the chains on themselves.

      It’s not hard, I just open my eyes.

    2. I live in Portland, OR, ASM, no need to imagine it.

    3. imagine all the people living in harmony (chained to the machine of government)

    4. They’ve never wanted to be free, Serious. They’ve always wanted to just be part of the collective and to quell their insecurities and self hate through subsuming themselves in a group, where they don’t have to think, or be rational, or use logic, and where everyone will tell them they are wonderful and good and smart as long as they never stray.

    5. Can I enslave them to polish my monocle collection? The physical exercise will do them good.

  11. Definitely agree with that. Although when it comes to drugs, I abstain from it because I am aware of the potential consequences that can arise if I decide to consume them.

  12. Every pot smoker I know, and I mean EVERY one, claims that smoking pot is perfectly safe. You’re burning parts of plants and inhaling the smoke, without even the benefit of a filter, and you say that is perfectly safe? Really?

    To talk to some of these people, marijuana is the miracle drug that can cure everything and yet is safer than St. Joseph’s Children’s Aspirin. Your baggie doesn’t have a health warning on it because it’s a black market product, NOT because it’s completely free of any adverse side effects.

  13. Dude seems to know whats going on over there. Wow.

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