Paul Gascoigne v Snoop Dogg: Is cannabis or alcohol worse for you?

By Nabihah Parkar
Newsbeat reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Paul Gascoigne previously played for Tottenham while Snoop Dogg is known for hits including Drop It Like It's Hot

An unlikely debate has broken out because of Snoop Dogg and ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne over what's worse - cannabis or alcohol?

It's after the rapper posted a photo of himself and the former England midfielder on Instagram - comparing how they've aged after 27 years of using the two different drugs.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Gazza - who has spent years battling alcoholism - said: "For him to attack someone like myself, with the trouble I've put myself through, for him to do that is really bang out of order, I was upset at the time.

"Normally I'd probably drink but now I try to look at the funny side of it. But there wasn't much of a funny side to that."

He also challenged Snoop to a charity boxing match, adding: "Cannabis vs booze - bring it on."

It's thought Snoop posted the photo to try to show that alcohol is worse for you than cannabis.

They both can affect the body and mind differently depending on the person. But is one worse than the other?

How does cannabis affect you?

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK and research shows 10% of regular cannabis users become addicted to it, according to the NHS.

Nikki Thorne from Addaction, a service helping young people who've misused drugs and alcohol, believes the "mental impact" of cannabis is the most dangerous part.

"We increasingly encounter young people, who've started using cannabis to self-medicate when they are unable to regulate their emotions, that go on to develop mental health issues."

Media caption,
The science of cannabis

Daily use of cannabis - especially the stronger kinds - is "strongly linked to the risk of developing psychosis", according to a study by King's College London.

Nikki mentions high-strength skunk as being "risky" because that strain can lead to paranoia and psychotic episodes.

She says one of the big issues for young people is an impact on "motivation and memory" which has knock-on effects with their education.

The NHS says people who smoke cannabis regularly are more likely to have bronchitis (where the lining of your lungs gets irritated and inflamed).

It says cannabis smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals - but it's not clear whether this raises your risk of cancer.

And if you mix it with tobacco to smoke it, you risk getting tobacco-related lung diseases, such as lung cancer and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD).

How can alcohol affect you?

It's recommended that men and women shouldn't drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week - about seven pints of beer or seven large glasses of wine.

One unit is around half a pint of beer, a single shot of a spirit or a small (125ml) glass of wine.

Nikki says "binge drinking often leads young people to take risks they wouldn't normally" and can lead to "regrets about behaviour or exploitation - both criminal and sexual".

She says alcohol can have an impact on your mental health too.

"The mental impact can be increased aggression, anxiety, and has been linked to an increase in depression and suicide."

The NHS says if you drink too much over a long period of time you can develop problems including heart disease, stroke, liver disease, liver cancer, bowel cancer, mouth cancer, breast cancer and pancreatitis.

So which is worse?

Just looking at the numbers, there were 9,214 alcohol-related deaths in 2016 while 24 deaths were linked to cannabis in the same year, according to the Office for National Statistics

Dr Sadie Boniface, an addiction researcher at King's College London, says both cannabis and alcohol are "harmful" and it's "impossible" to say which is worse.

She says: "The two have different effects, there are individual differences, and it would depend how often and how much you use."

But she argues that alcohol "is a greater problem for society" because it's "costing the NHS £3.5 billion every year".

"Roughly 80% of adults in England report drinking alcohol in the past year, compared with only about 7% who report using cannabis," she says.

"Snoop Dogg's meme brings attention to a topical issue, but we shouldn't forget that cannabis-use disorders and alcohol dependence are both really serious."

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