Study looks into the relationship between smoking tobacco and marijuana together for those who want to quit.

Most of us who smoke weed have consumed a marijuana cigarette — a “joint” if you will. But, is this the best route to intake cannabis? It’s surely a classic and not going away any time soon, but if you’re not into vaping or edibles and insistent on smoking flower, you should take note of what you roll into your joint. Tokers cut their pot with tobacco for multiple reasons: Saving money on weed, preferring the taste, or helping the mix burn better. Unfortunately, using tobacco with your marijuana is probably one of the least healthy way to consume because of the effects of tobacco smoke (and its addictive drug, nicotine) on the smoker.

HOW NICOTINE WORKS

How does nicotine become so addictive in the first place? Our brains function by releasing neurotransmitters that interact with receptors on the surface of nerve cells. Nicotine is shaped like the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved with our muscle movement, breathing, heart rate and memory. It also increases dopamine — giving us feelings of pleasure and reward. The release of these neurotransmitters lends nicotine its addictive qualities. After long term exposure, addiction leads the user to compulsively seek the drug. Our brains use our bodies to seek pleasure and reward — psychological and physical addiction. This is why when people try to quit smoking tobacco, they have symptoms of withdrawal like irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances and changes in appetite.

STUDY OF ADDICTION

A study published in July by the online journal Frontiers in Psychiatry looked more closely at the addictive attributes of combining nicotine with cannabis. It concluded smokers who mixed tobacco with marijuana are more likely to have symptoms of dependency, which is not something to take lightly in our community. Cannabis is, of course, less addictive than tobacco, but when tobacco is combined with marijuana, not only can it lead to nicotine addiction, but it also may lower the motivation of someone who might otherwise seek assistance to quit either drug.

Chandni Hindocha, the doctoral student in clinical psychopharmacology at the University College London who performed the research found:

  • A 10% increase in the desire to use less tobacco among tokers who kept their roll strictly green.
  • Beyond that, subjects who kept cigarettes and joints separate were 80% more likely to consider taking the next step to use less tobacco.
  • Smokers who mix tobacco with weed are, on average, younger and more often men.

MARIJUANA AND TOBACCO USE BY GEOGRAPHY

The use of tobacco with marijuana, according to the study, varies greatly from country to country. Between 77-90% of European cannabis users use tobacco with their marijuana compared to almost 52% of Australians and only 20% of New Zealand cannabis users. Combining both tobacco and marijuana is even less popular in the Americas, with less than 10% of the population using both together. This makes the issue of nicotine/marijuana dependency mainly a European problem, though no one wants to struggle with addiction be it physical or psychological.

Much of the marijuana industry stands behind healthy lifestyle choices, and understanding that cannabis itself is not physically addictive is wonderful news. Understanding more about how nicotine and marijuana interact with each other sheds light on how they impact the body and mind of the person using them.

 

 

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