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5 Shocking Facts About THC, Alcohol and Other Drugs

April 20, 2021

By Pamela Mulready
Alcohol and Other Drug Education Specialist
Hartford HealthCare Medical Group
Trinity College Health Center

Five things you probably didn’t know about alcohol, THC and other drugs:

1. Vaping THC can be more damaging to your lungs than smoking cigarettes.

A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that vaping THC in the forms of wax, oil, hash oil or cannabis plant material (also known as flower) was more damaging to the lungs than smoking cigarettes, vaping nicotine or smoking marijuana in more traditional ways (such as joints, blunts, bongs or pipes).

Study participants who vaped THC were nearly twice as likely as other types of smokers to experience symptoms such as: “wheezing and whistling in the chest; sleep disturbed or speech limited due to wheezing; sounding wheezy during or after exercise; and dry cough at night not associated with chest illness or infection.”

2. It’s meth, not Adderall.

The DEA’s (Drug Enforcement Agency) New England branch recently warned that drug cartels are pressing methamphetamine to resemble pills like Adderall “in an attempt to corner and addict a younger market.”

3. THC available now can be between 900 percent and 2,400 percent stronger than THC available 15 years ago.

According to the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, marijuana potency has increased drastically in the last 15 years from an average of 4 percent potency in 2005 to 12-14 percent or higher in recent years. Edibles and concentrates of THC can range from 40 percent to 100 percent potency! There is a greater risk of agitation, panic, disorientation and psychotic reactions with high-potency THC products.

Another risk for difficult side effects: It is much easier in recent years, due to the delivery mechanisms of vapes and edible products, to use too much THC too quickly. Using any THC product is inherently a risk for the developing adolescent brain, but if people do use a high-potency product, such as edibles or a THC concentrate, they should remember to “start low and go slow.”

Edibles can take 1-3 hours to be processed by the body, which can cause people to consume more than originally intended because they aren’t experiencing the effects as quickly as expected..

4. The rate of cocaine overdose has more than tripled between the years 2012 and 2018.

According to the National Vital Statistics System, the number of cocaine-involved deaths has skyrocketed in recent years. Individuals are at an increased risk of overdose if combining substances. Opioids (like Oxycontin, Vicodin or Fentanyl) can be deadly when combined with cocaine. Alcohol and cocaine can also be a deadly combination and can increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, or liver damage.

5. In Connecticut, from 2017-19, 12.7 percent of the 18-25 age range had alcohol use disorder and 8.4 percent had marijuana use disorder.

These alarming statistics from SAMHSA represent people being harmed by their relationship with alcohol or marijuana. People with substance use disorders often want to stop using and know it’s negatively impacting their ability to function and feel happy, however feel overwhelmed with anxiety, sleep difficulties, depressed moods, irritability, and/or physical symptoms when they quit.

It is possible to learn tools to manage these symptoms and students are encouraged to speak with the Health Center or the Counseling and Wellness Center if they need confidential support for stopping or reducing their substance use.

Trinity also has two SMART Recovery meetings each week that students can drop into anonymously to learn skills for stopping or reducing substance use:

  • The Wednesday SMART meeting, at 6 p.m., is an “all ages” meeting. It can be accessed on this zoom link.
  • The Thursday SMART meeting is the “College Age” meeting, with students from all over the country! It meets at 6 p.m. on this zoom link.