Research & Resources

Substitution or Complementary Effects in Cannabis and Alcohol Co-Use

The impact of cannabis use on alcohol-related outcomes has received increased attention in the wake of ongoing legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. The purpose of this review is to discuss the literature regarding the concurrent use (co-use) of alcohol and cannabis and competing hypotheses as to whether cannabis acts as a substitute for alcohol (i.e., replacing the effects of alcohol, resulting in decreased use) or a complement to alcohol (i.e., used to enhance the effects of alcohol, resulting in increased use). Results revealed compelling evidence for both substitution and complementary effects, suggesting nuanced yet significant distinctions across different populations examined in these studies.

This paper, “Patterns of cannabis and alcohol co-use: Substitution versus complementary effects,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and published in the journal Alcohol Research: Current Reviews.

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