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No thanks to December’s festivities, you may have woken up a few times with fuzzy memories of the past night accompanied by a pounding headache and some nausea. That’s not the energy you want to use to kickstart the year! You want to start the year clear-headed and purposeful. So, a sober, dry January it will be!

Sobriety is not always as easy as it seems. Thankfully, medical cannabis can help you navigate the wave of temptations that come with being sober.

Now, you may be wondering: Is cannabis safer than alcohol? And if you are yet to be familiar with the concept – what is dry January? Let’s get right into it.

What is Dry January?

Dry January, also known as sober January, is an annual tradition upheld by many people who voluntarily quit alcohol consumption during the first month of the year. Health organizations, fitness clubs, and local governments are the foremost drivers of this practice, and it’s usually part of public health campaigns.

For individuals who engage in dry January annually, it’s often a refreshing way to start a new year, especially after the wild and unpleasant tales of the past month’s inebriation.

On a personal level, “what is dry January?” is a question that some people tend to answer differently, depending on how they choose to partake. Outside the general definition or expectation of dry January, some people drink only on weekends or only at events.

When Did Dry January Start?

Most reports attribute the advent of sober January to Alcohol Change UK’s Dry January campaign in 2013. Conversely, it is a history that you can trace back to 1942 when Finland ran a Sober January propaganda as a part of war efforts to boost the weakening defense capabilities at the war front.

Since then, various organizations in Finland have continued to run the campaign every year. In a country with 5.5 million people and a record of 500,000 excessive drinkers, it comes as no surprise why health organizations pursue this and similar campaigns fervently.

So, how popular is dry January?

As a global trend, sober January is not a widespread practice. However, annual surveys show that more people across the U.S. and Europe engage in the tradition every new year. We can only imagine that with time it would become more widespread.

Dry January Benefits

Taking a short break from alcohol or quitting entirely comes with its perks. For starters, you get to enjoy some of the most immediate dry January benefits, which include:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer thinking, less brain fog
  • A normalized blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of strokes, heart disease, and hypertensive diseases
  • Improved skin
  • Weight loss
  • Improved liver performance and general improvement for your immune system

Yes, you can achieve all these within a month without alcohol. Unfortunately, going cold turkey is not the best course of action for everyone. Thus, individuals with physical or psychological alcohol dependence may suffer alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Persistent alcohol craving
  • Restlessness

Is Dry January Safe?

The probability of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms brings up some safety concerns around the practice. Hence, we highly recommend that individuals with alcohol dependence consult their doctor before starting sober January. But, for those without dependency issues, Dry January is more than safe — it’s wonderful for your health and wellness.

Those who continue with sober January may experience some of the symptoms listed above. Also, persistent alcohol cravings may cause them to slip or start a very unhealthy affair with sugar. Thankfully, cannabis can help treat some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including anxiety, nausea, and seizures.

Additionally, cannabis is perceived to be a much safer alternative to alcohol, and there are movements, such as Cali Sober, which involve cutting out alcohol intake for cannabis.

Cannabis and Alcohol: Is Cannabis Safer than Alcohol?

So, is cannabis safer than alcohol? This question pops up in every cannabis and alcohol debate. Side by side, there are obvious differences between cannabis and alcohol and how they affect consumers in the short and long term. 

These differences in effects on individuals and society are vivid indicators that give an affirmative answer to the question, “Is cannabis safer than alcohol?”

LEARN MORE: Can Marijuana Help Alcoholism?

Drawing the Line Between Cannabis and Alcohol

When you consider the instances that many debates trying to answer the cannabis and alcohol question provide, you may realize that the comparison is unfair.

Almost all such debates make it evident that alcohol is more dangerous to individuals and society in the long term. However, most of these debates try to equate cannabis to alcohol, and some even try to make cannabis appear much worse. 

Sure, we can excuse that cannabis is not legal globally, so it is easier to make a case against it. But, where do we draw the line? What is dry January’s significance if you still go back to the bottles? Should you consider replacing alcohol with cannabis?

Let’s see what the experts have to say. 

The Multicriteria Analysis of Drug Harms

A publication in The Lancet Global Health – a renowned health journal – categorized drugs by their overall harm scores based on factors broadly entrenched in drug harm to users and the damage to others.

When the researchers considered all criteria, alcohol was the most harmful substance, with a 72% rating. Cannabis appeared eight lines down the list, with a 20% rating. The report noted that “alcohol is more lethal than many illicit drugs, such as cannabis.” 

The Often-Shushed Glaring Disparities

We are aware of the ravaging damage of alcohol in the US. The harm is evident but often mildly addressed, while alcohol is widely publicized and introduced to the public. For instance, 95,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually, and the leading causes were attributed to chronic conditions caused by alcohol. 

On the other hand, there is no concrete indication of cannabis-related deaths despite attempts at inferences.

Binge drinking, which often results in alcohol overdose, accounts for about half of alcohol-related deaths. While you may have a few tokes and chill out, the story plays out differently when alcohol is in the equation – you may find yourself going glass after glass, bottle after bottle. 

There is a high likelihood of indulging in excessive drinking and overdosing. But with marijuana, the chances are almost nonexistent.

To reach a fatal dose of THC intake, an individual would have had to consume between 15 to 70 grams of it. A typical joint contains about half a gram of marijuana with approximately 0.06 grams of THC.

Experts estimate that for an individual to consume a fatal dose of THC, they would have to smoke 238 to 1,113 joints a day. To put things into perspective, a survey of Washington residents found that an average user consumes 1.3-1.9 grams of marijuana on a typical day. 

Thus, getting to the fatal dose threshold of 238 joints per day seems nearly impossible; daresay, outrightly insane. You would have to puff through at least ten joints per hour for 24 hours straight! Ouch. 

The Closer: The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) Take

MPP did an extensive analysis of government research, organizational research, and public records to answer the question Is cannabis safer than alcohol? Quickly, let’s look at the summary of the article.

1. Impact on consumer

  • Many people die from alcohol use, but nobody dies from marijuana use.
  • There has never been a case of a marijuana overdose.
  • Alcohol has by far more health implications.
  • Drinking alcohol can damage the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption is linked to cancer. Cannabis is not.
  • Alcohol has significantly higher addiction potential.
  • Alcohol use increases the risks of self-harm. Marijuana use does not.

2. Impact on the community

  • Marijuana does not contribute to aggressive, violent behavior, which is somewhat common with alcohol use.
  • Alcohol use is a major factor in violent crimes.
  • Marijuana does not contribute to the likelihood of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

Dry January: Significance and Next Steps

If you notice an overall improvement in your well-being in a month without alcohol, it’s an indication to continue the pattern in the following months. 

Unfortunately, people often fall back to alcohol after a sober January, sometimes even drinking more than they do in the past. As we’ve indicated earlier, medical cannabis can help you tackle alcohol withdrawal symptoms that you may experience during sober January – or long-term sobriety.

The benefits of medical cannabis far outweigh alcohol consumption, which has significantly fewer medical benefits in comparison. So, while using medical cannabis to tackle the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal during sober January, consider the gradual journey of replacing alcohol with cannabis subsequently. 

We admit, it may be hard at first, but you will be grateful in the long run.

For Everything Cannabis, We Are Here for You

Although it is nearly impossible to overdose on marijuana, we do not advise excessive use of medical cannabis. As with all substances, moderate use will get you the best results. Medical cannabis and medical cannabis products can help you gauge your intake of THC, CBD, and other chemicals in cannabis.

Most people find it difficult to access medical cannabis due to the challenges they encounter when trying to acquire medical marijuana cards. Elevate Holistics can help you get your medical marijuana card recommendation within 48 hours, and the process is straightforward, affordable, and entirely online. With us, you get to process your application and have a virtual appointment with a certified medical marijuana doctor all from the comfort of home.

Contact us now to learn more about getting your MMJ card, and feel free to ask us any cannabis-related questions. Whether it’s Dry January or questions about medical cannabis consumption, no matter what, Elevate Holistics is here to help.

Additional Patient Resources:

Learn more about MMJ in your state through our state FAQ pages.

Curious if you qualify for medical cannabis? Check out our qualifying medical conditions pages.

Read our latest blog post to stay up-to-date about cannabis in the US.

Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

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About the author

Michael Lawal is a seasoned content writer with specialized expertise in the medical cannabis industry. With a background that blends journalism and health sciences, Michael has a knack for translating complex medical cannabis research into accessible and engaging content. His writing portfolio showcases a range of work from informative articles and research summaries to patient education materials. Committed to raising awareness about the benefits and responsible use of medical cannabis, Michael's work is a valuable resource for both consumers and professionals in the field.
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