The Connection Between Tobacco, Drugs & Marijuana

The drug landscape is changing in many ways today. Legislation is shifting around marijuana use, and awareness on the dangers of tobacco use has become an ingrained part of the cultural consciousness. Given these factors, new research has begun with the hopes of exploring the ways that combined drug use impacts one’s motivation to quit using tobacco or cannabis either jointly or independently, given the different ways that these substances impact the body and the mind.

Men and women who report marijuana use also typically report using tobacco with some frequency, so the relationship between these two drugs is certainly worth exploring. From an addictions perspective, marijuana is less habit-forming than tobacco, and its habit-forming properties are more in the realm of the behavioral as opposed to the physiological. Still, users who regularly combine both cannabis and tobacco together may find that quitting their use of either drug is more difficult than if they were using only one of these substances. This finding is but one data point that has been revealed from what is being touted as the largest online survey of current drug users to date.

Researchers from Frontiers in Psychiatry combed through the responses of over 30,000 drug users across the globe, and cite several trends that indicate that for users who regularly consume tobacco and marijuana together, quitting tobacco will be a much tougher endeavor. These findings raise several interesting questions about the nature of addiction, and the ways that drug combinations affect the brain. Further, this research may be useful in encouraging discussions on expanding legislation from a harm reduction perspective. Some suggest that efforts resources should be focused on encouraging methods of marijuana use that do not include the use of tobacco, and efforts could be helpful in limiting polysubstance abuse, and in turn, might make quitting one’s drug of choice a bit easier in the long run. For example, vaporizers have become popular in recent years, and offer less harmful means of inhaling than other routes that can increase damage to the respiratory system.

There are no simple routes to take when it comes to ending cycles of addictive behavior. But by gaining a deeper understanding of the ways various substances affect the body and the brain, addictions professionals will be better equipped to support the men and women who seek their support to end their chemical dependence. As countless individuals continue to grapple with issues of substance abuse, more research is certainly needed in the realm of the science of addiction, and in particular, the effects of multiple types of drug use on the brain.

For now, the recovery community must make an effort to create pathways to healing that reflect the unique challenges that someone experiencing the effects of polysubstance abuse is enduring. At Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab, we know that addiction is a multifaceted issue, and our programming reflects the individual needs of the men and women who come to recover from chemical dependence and mental health concerns of all kinds.