Using Alcohol And Marijuana Together
After alcohol, Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States. An estimated 55 million American adults currently use the drug, and 45% of American adults have tried Marijuana at least once. In the past decade, Marijuana use has increased rapidly, with the number of users doubling from 2001 to 2015. This is in part due to the drug becoming more socially acceptable and accessible, as well as the legalization of Marijuana for medicinal and recreational use in certain states. As of November 2020, 36 states and 4 territories have legalized Marijuana for medical use, and 15 states and 3 territories have legalized Marijuana for recreational use for adults. While Marijuana is generally considered a safe drug with low addictive properties and minimal side effects, combining it with other drugs can cause increased intoxication. When someone uses alcohol and Marijuana at the same time, it can result in greater impairment.
Marijuana, also called weed, pot, bud, dope, and grass, is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive chemical in the plant and can produce mind-altering affects when consumed. Marijuana is most commonly smoked but can also be vaporized and combined with foods to be eaten. As THC enters the bloodstream, users will feel effects very quickly when smoked. It can take more time for users to feel effects if the drug is eaten. Common effects of Marijuana include feelings of relaxation and euphoria, heightened sensory perception, and increased appetite. The effects of Marijuana vary among individuals.
Some people may experience unpleasant effects when they use Marijuana, such as anxiety, paranoia, fear, and panic. While Marijuana is commonly used to prevent nausea and vomiting for certain patients like those undergoing chemotherapy, others may develop cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). This condition sometimes occurs in long-term daily users of Marijuana and leads to, “repeated and severe bouts of vomiting,” according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. These periods of severe vomiting can occur for months or years until the individual stops using Marijuana and seeks professional medical treatment. It is still unclear why certain people develop CHS, but fortunately it is a rare condition.
Medical Marijuana is used to help with a wide variety of diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Epilepsy, arthritis, and many more. The drug’s ability to decrease nausea and reduce chronic pain makes it helpful for those suffering from a deadly disease, and can offer other types of aid, such as easing anxiety. However, it is important to be aware of the potentially negative effects that also come with Marijuana. The drug is widely used among young adults, and research has demonstrated that teenagers who partake in heavy Marijuana use show disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, as well as showing alterations in brain functioning and development.
Although it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 29% of high school students drank alcohol in the past month. Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience school, social, and legal problems, and are more likely to misuse other substances. Mixing drugs and alcohol, whether the drugs are prescribed or not, is generally a bad idea. Side effects are more likely to occur when taking most drugs with alcohol. Drinking alcohol and taking Benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium can result in slowed breathing, drowsiness, and impaired motor control. Using alcohol with Stimulants like Adderall or Vyvanse increases the risk for heart problems and liver damage, and this risk is increased even more with illicit Stimulants such as Cocaine or Methamphetamine. Because alcohol and Marijuana use are so common, many may wonder if it is safe to combine alcohol and Marijuana, and others may be unaware of the effects that this combination can cause.
Is It Safe To Use Alcohol And Marijuana At The Same Time?
Among those who drink alcohol, Marijuana is the most commonly used drug. Those who use both substances are more likely to use them simultaneously, and according to a study published in Alcoholism, Clinical And Experimental Research, “simultaneous use was associated with increased frequency and quantity of alcohol use.” Even if a person has a negative reaction to Marijuana, it does not carry the dangers of overdose that other drugs do. The same cannot be said for alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 95,000 deaths in America each year. This number includes both long term effects, like liver and heart disease, as well as short term effects, like alcohol poisoning and car accidents.
Research has demonstrated that simultaneous use of alcohol and Marijuana doubled the odds of drunk driving, compared to only using alcohol. It also doubled the odds of self-harm and negative social consequences. When someone is using these 2 substances together, they are more likely to consume more of both substances. Depending on the order in which these substances are consumed, users may “green out” or become “cross-faded.” Alcohol increases the absorption of THC, and can cause users to experience dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Cross-faded is an expression used to describe the state of being drunk and high at the same time. It is thought of as an unpleasant experience by most, as it may also present with symptoms like dizziness and vomiting.
Because of the increased risk of drunk driving, self-harm, social consequences, and unpleasant side effects, using alcohol and Marijuana at the same time is inadvisable. Used in moderation, both substances may be safe and legal depending on the user’s age and location, but mixing them together will result in increased impairment and put the user at an increased risk for a plethora of negative effects. Combining alcohol and Marijuana may also make it difficult for users to gauge how intoxicated they actually are, resulting in further consumption.
Concerned About Alcohol And Marijuana Use?
The fact that alcohol and Marijuana are legal in some areas for adults does not remove the reality that these substances can produce negative effects, and can be potentially dangerous. Combining any drug with alcohol may be a sign of an alcohol use disorder, especially if it is putting you or someone you know in risky situations. If you or a loved one has attempted to stop drinking and using drugs but has been unable to, it may be time to seek professional treatment. A treatment provider can discuss rehab options, including how to pay for rehab. Contact a treatment provider to discuss treatment options.
Author: Hayley Hudson | Last Edited: October 6, 2021
Medical Reviewer: Deborah Montross Nagel