Which is Worse for You: Alcohol or Marijuana?

By Mary Ann

Regardless of whether you’re driving after drinking alcohol, or driving after smoking marijuana, getting caught by the police may be a felony or a misdemeanor charge. But how does each one affect your body and your ability to drive?

Is alcohol or marijuana worse for you?

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The Battle Between Alcohol and Marijuana

Some may believe widespread drug use is non-existent and alcoholism affects very few people in the United States. Unfortunately, this is not the case and many are affected by the use of these addictive substances. In this infographic, you’ll learn who is using these drugs and how common it is in America.


Areas of the Brain Receptive to Marijuana

THC, the main chemical compound found in marijuana, affects these three cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain when the drug is consumed.


  • Coordination


  • Recollection of Recent Events

Basal Ganglia

  • Unconscious Muscle Movement

Marijuana Use

  • In 2010, 17.4 million people were using marijuana every month.
    • In 2007, the number of marijuana users was 14.4 million.
  • 4.5 million people were reported as abusing or having dependency issues with marijuana.
  • 61.8% of illicit drug users in 2010 said their first drug was marijuana.

Marijuana use in 2010

  • 1 in 6 kids will abuse or become addicted to marijuana compared to 1 in 25 adults.
  • Average age of first use: 18.4 years old.
  • Average age of first use: 18.4 years old.
  • Used marijuana 20 or more days a month: 39.9%
  • Used marijuana 300 days in a row: 15.7%

Some Effects of Marijuana

  • Causes short-term memory loss.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Episodes of psychosis.
  • Faster heart rate.
  • Impairment of cognitive functions.
  • Detrimental effects to balance and coordination.
  • Results in problems with memory and learning.
  • Can cause addiction.
  • Increased risk for chronic lung issues.
  • Possible increase in the risk for anxiety and depression.


Alcohol Use

  • 15 liters of pure alcohol are consumed per 1,000 Americans.
  • Only 17.7% of people in the U.S. will not drink alcohol in their lifetime.
  • Percent of male population dying from alcohol-related disease annually: 5.48%
  • Percent of female population dying from alcohol-related disease annually: 1.92%

Most consumed alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

Beer Spirits Wine
53% 31% 16%

Areas of the Brain Vulnerable to Alcohol


  • Coordinating Movement

Frontal Lobe

  • Learning and Memory

Cerebral Cortex

  • Thought Processing and Consciousness

Hypothalamus and Pituitary

  • Monitors Automatic Brain Function and Hormone Release

Most common causes of death attributed to alcohol in the world, by disease:

  • Cirrhosis of the Liver
  • Epilepsy
  • Oesophagus Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Mouth and Oropharynx Cancers
  • Breast Cancer
  • Colon and Rectum Cancers
  • Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Ischaemic Heart Disease

While alcohol may contain a good number of diseases with its extended consumption, marijuana has its own number of detrimental effects. Not everything is known about the long-term effects of consistent substance abuse though research is constantly arising to present new insight.


Provided by Total DUI.

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