"Let's have a drink!" is something we hear all the time. We go for drinks with friends, have a drink to celebrate, have drinks after work, and of course, we serve drinks at a party. In society, we drink for a lot of different reasons, and for the most part, it is culturally acceptable to consume alcohol with friends and family. But is alcohol good for us? If we look at the science and the data, regular consumption of alcohol has a lot of unintended negative health consequences, from alcohol dependence to higher risk of different cancers, higher rates of depression, and even a weakened immune system.
If you consume alcohol regularly, maybe it's time to consider pivoting to something else. That could mean abstaining altogether (chocolate is a great substitute!), or approaching alcohol more consciously and in moderation. Or, it could be time to consider an alternative, such as cannabis-infused beverages. If consumed properly, marijuana can provide similar benefits we experience from alcohol, but with fewer health problems. Also, who doesn't want to avoid the next day alcohol hangover?!
How Much is Too Much Alcohol
If you are a moderate drinker you may be able to drink alcohol without noticing any negative effects. Experts debate if there are health benefits to drinking; some possible ones include:
- Reducing risk of developing heart disease
- Possibly reducing risk of ischemic stroke
- Possibly reducing risk of diabetes
The Mayo Clinic indicates that health benefits are more likely received if you have a healthy diet and are physically active.
Moderate drinking is considered to be one to two drinks a day for men and one per day or less for women. Examples of one drink include:
- Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
- Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
- Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
But even a moderate drinker has an increased risk of some cancers, including breast and esophageal cancer.
Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65, and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men aged 65 and younger.
Some of the health risks of excessive drinking and binge drinking, include:
- Certain cancers
- Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
- Heart muscle damage leading to heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Accidental serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other problems in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep disturbance such as insomnia
- Addiction or alcohol dependence
Do You Have an Alcohol Problem?
If you're asking if you have a drinking problem, chances are you do. Some of the warning signs of alcohol abuse include:
- Drinking more than you plan to
- Couldn't cut back or stop despite trying
- Spend a lot of time drinking, being sick, or hungover
- Want alcohol so badly you can't think of anything else
- Have problems with work, school, or family because of your drinking habit
- Continuing to drink even though it is causing problem for you or your relationships
- Cut back on other activities important to you in order to drink
- Keep drinking even though it made you depressed or anxious, hurt your health, or led to a memory blackout
- Drink more and more to get the same effect
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the buzz wears off, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, a seizure, or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren't there.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) offers a number of resources for getting assessments and help with your drinking problem. These can include traditional self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Secular AA; different types of treatments and medications; different kinds of health professionals available to work with you; and much more.
Replacing a Drinking Habit with Another...
If your drinking problem isn't severe, then replacing your nightly cocktail for another habit, one with less physical damage, may be an easy switch up. If your drinking habit is deeply ingrained, or you find difficulty breaking your habit, we suggest a really good read!
To find a pathway to real change, it's worth consulting a book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising great children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success, and stopping or moderating drinking is to understand how habits work. This book clearly demonstrates how change is possible, even with ingrained habits - such as drinking too much.
Replacing Alcohol With Marijuana
There's evidence to suggest that it's safer to consume weed than alcohol or tobacco. Studies have shown that alcohol can be about 114 times more deadly than marijuana. That's a bit of a whopper!
Times arechanging as people become more aware of the dangers of alcohol and the benefits of marijuana. As the rise of weed legalization continues across the United States (especially under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic), we see an increasing number of young people who embracing marijuana in lieu of drinking.
The "Monitoring the Future" report, sponsored by The National Institute On Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, reveals changes in the patterns of substance use in the college student population.
Statistics show that 44% of college students indicate they used marijuana in the previous year, while 56% reported drinking. This represents a substantial shift. In 2015, only 38% of college students said they used marijuana, while 62% of the same population admitted to drinking alcohol in 2019.
Another study, by Harris Poll, indicates that half of cannabis consumers aged 21 and up have replaced or reduced their alcohol consumption with marijuana since the beginning of the pandemic. The poll also found that one-third of those who use cannabis recreationally prefer cannabis to drinking alcohol.
The Cannabis-Infused Beverage: An Alcohol Alternative
Shifting consumer attitudes and patterns have alcohol companies on their toes, and somewhat concerned. While cannabis is growing in popularity as a new consumption method makes the switch from alcohol to marijuana even easier; enter the weed-infused beverage.
Cannabis sales in this country. are expected to reach $21.6 billion in 2021, with cannabis beverage sales making up about $210 million of that. More than 80% of consumers believe that weed is safer than alcohol, sparking major alcohol companies to invest in THC and CBD beverages, such as Molson Coors, Lagunitas, Pabst, and Constellation Brands.
The weed-infused beverage market has two main categories: THC beverages and hemp-derived CBD beverages. Each category has its own legal requirements and route to market. But they have the same appeal: They're non-alcoholic, have a touch of mocktail effervescence, and include low to zero calories. It seems this may be the new healthy alternative to boozing it up on the weekends!
In this vein, here are seven cannabis-infused drinks available throughout the California market that are worth trying:
ReCreate Mango Hibiscus
Containing 10 mg of THC and 10 mg of CBD, ]the extra-strength version of this cannabis beverage](https://www.recreatecannabis.com/product/mango-hibiscus-beverage-extra-strength) has only 30 calories and combines full-spectrum extract with uplifting botanicals like Yerba Mate to help keep you energized and uplifted throughout the day.
House of Saka Pink is a cannabis-infused beverage handcrafted from grapes grown in select vineyards within California's Napa Valley. It offers subtle aromas of red fruit, honeysuckle, and spring flora. "Pleasing flavors of fresh strawberry and elderflower bath the palate followed by a bright, citrus finish."
Created by Harmony Craft Beverages, Malus beverages are reportedly California's first cannabis-infused ciders, made with Sour Diesel terpenes and live resin THC. Most of the alcohol is removed from the cider and then a cannabis emulsion is infused, tasting almost like you're drinking a hard cider but "swapping bloat for bliss."
Lagunitas Hi-Fi Hops
The brewery has strong sales in California of its Hi-Fi Hops, using a "stereophonic" mix of hops and cannabis. It explains, "This IPA-inspired sparkling beverage is made using everything Lagunitas knows about hops — but non-alcoholic with zero-calories, and zero-carbs. Infused with THC from the finest, sun-grown cannabis." The three beer-like products have different levels of THC and CBD.
Artet's aperitifs are non-alcoholic and cannabis infused. Each batch is a blend of cannabis and eight botanicals that are designed to work in harmony. One intriguing choice is Rosemary Jane, with Italian grapefruit juice, rosemary simple syrup, and sparkling water to "tease out the warmth of our flagship aperitif."
SipC only used California grapes used in the initial production of its 2018 Grenache Rosé blend that was infused with 40mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract. Its alcohol-removed, hemp-infused rose wines are aimed at women and delivered via a subscription service.
Mad Lilly Spritzers
Mad Lilly spritzers blend all-natural fruit juices and low doses of cannabis to create "wildly tasteful experiences, be it a soothing night's sleep or a moment of sparkling joy." Product choices include Raspberry Hibiscus, Passion Fruit Mango and Ginger Pear. Raspberry Hibiscus, for example, contains 50 calories and 5 mg each of THC and CBD.
These products are available through different California dispensaries and delivery services. One of the best same-day (or even within the hour with the ASAP menu) delivery services is Grass Door, serving the Los Angeles and San Francisco area.
Need Your Medical Marijuana Card?
If you want to buy medical cannabis in a state where it is allowed, you’ll need to get a medical marijuana card. HelloMD can help you with online virtual medical consultation and get your medical card fast, easy and private.