Both are Worse

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

This article is an attempt to respond to comments on the Delta Discovery Facebook page in response to the article titled, Which is Worse? Alcohol or Marijuana? But before I respond to any of the comments, I would first like to thank those who took time to comment on the article.

In rereading the article, I stand by the information included in the article. I did provide some opinions that are anecdotal based on 25 years of practice in psychology. But the articles I cited, such as from The American Journal of Psychiatry, are peer-reviewed articles. In contrast, all of the responses on the Facebook page were simply opinions with no research to back them up. A good example is C. J. McCormick’s response, “There are scientific studies that have proven marijuana is safer then alcohol.” C.J., I’m still looking for those studies, and you didn’t cite any that you claim are out there. Instead, you relied on personal experiences to PROVE your point: “But let me tell you some personal stories no one but myself can validate to prove my point.”

For those of you who wanted to drive home the point that alcohol is terrible, I agree with you. Jerry Kusayak pointed out the terrible effects of alcohol (i.e., alcohol poisoning, DTs, severe dehydration, black outs, etc.). Michael Slats stated, “Alcohol killed thousands and thousands, even millions by now. Cori Simon declared that “Alcohol is 1000 times worse than marijuana.” Though “1000 times worse” appears to be hyperbole, rather than scientific fact, I agree alcohol kills. And Michael Slats asked how many people die marijuana-related deaths compared to alcohol. That’s a good question. No one knows. We probably won’t know until the State Medical Examiner publicly publishes the presence of marijuana as well as alcohol when someone dies.

I agree with Barbara McCarthy, “There has been no scientific research done on the topic because the federal government made it illegal to do research on marijuana… Measurable scientific research has been done in other countries, but the results have not been widely shared in the US.” It is true that at the federal level, marijuana is still illegal, and as a result, there has been very little published research on it in the United States. Even the article I cited, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, came from data obtained in Quebec. And the articles I cited on the increased risk of Schizophrenia associated with marijuana use came out of Great Britain.

I do believe Barbara McCarthy could have been a little kinder to me when she stated, “It is important to realize that Dr. Bradbury is not a medical doctor. He has a PH.D. In psychology. He cannot speak with any authority on the physical reactions to either alcohol or marijuana.” And in a second response, she stated, “Anything said by this doctor is just his opinion, not fact.” Barbara, I’ll try to be a little kinder to you. I earned a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi and obtained a license to practice psychology in the State of Alaska by passing the exams required by the State Licensing Board. As you inferred, I am a Psychologist and not a Medical Doctor. However, as a Ph.D., I was trained as both a researcher and practitioner. Further, there is a large body of empirical research on addictions and addiction medicine, as well as “physical reactions to either alcohol or marijuana” available for your perusal and study completed by Ph.Ds. Though a Ph.D. is not required to do research, it is common for an M.D to obtain a Ph.D. if his or her interest lies in doing research.

Before bringing this article to a close, I would like to respond to Cori Simon and Chris Feagle’s comments that because marijuana is a plant (an herb) and God said He gave plants for food that no one should condemn the ingestion of marijuana. Well, God also created Water Hemlock, Deadly Nightshades, Castor Beans, and White Snakeroot, but I don’t suggest you eat them. You might want to read a biography on Socrates.

In rereading my article, Which is Worse? Alcohol or Marijuana?, I recognize it was a poor choice of a title because it didn’t match the question. The question read, “I keep hearing that marijuana is a lot better for a person than alcohol. Is that true?” So, I put forth information to dispel the idea that marijuana is better than alcohol. Probably a better title would have been the response provided by Mike Williams, “Both are worse.”

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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