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Marijuana (weed) and alcohol are two commonly used substances. Weed is the most widely used, federally-illicit substance in the United States.4
Overusing either marijuana or alcohol can be dangerous. Mixing the two, also known as cross-fading, can result in unwanted effects.
When you mix weed and alcohol, you may experience side effects that range from unpleasant to serious. Generally, combining alcohol and weed won’t lead to serious health issues unless too much of the two substances is consumed.
Drinking alcohol before smoking weed can amplify the effects of marijuana. Alcohol boosts your body’s absorption of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in weed.
Drinking alcohol before smoking weed can produce a stronger high, which may cause intense symptoms in some people.
Combining marijuana and alcohol can also increase risky behavior. Drunk driving or operating a vehicle after smoking cannabis, for example, can cause injuries or fatalities.
People get cross-faded for a few reasons.
Weed and alcohol are often consumed in social settings. Some people may mix them together at parties or gatherings.
Others may drink alcohol before smoking marijuana to purposefully intensify the effects of weed.
In serious cases, some people misuse both weed and alcohol because they struggle with a substance use disorder or an addiction.
If you mix alcohol with weed, you might feel the following side effects:
Side effects vary based on:
Drinking alcohol before using marijuana can intensify the effects of marijuana. When you drink alcohol and then smoke marijuana, your body will rapidly absorb more of the THC from the weed.14
You should be careful about drinking alcohol before smoking weed or ingesting THC in another form. Be mindful of your tolerance for both substances and how much alcohol you consume.
There isn’t much research to describe what happens when you smoke marijuana and then drink alcohol. Older research indicates that weed appears to slow the rise of your blood alcohol level after drinking too much.11
Other research suggests that, if weed slows your body’s rate of alcohol absorption, then it may delay the feeling of being drunk. This may cause you to make unsafe decisions, especially if you’re unaware of your impairment level.
Drinking alcohol before smoking weed can make you feel high more intensely and quickly.
Research shows that people who use alcohol and weed simultaneously tend to use more of both substances.11, 13 This can up your risk of developing dependence.9
Marijuana use is also linked to other types of substance use disorders (SUDs). For example, marijuana use and nicotine addiction are often connected.10
Studies also show that combining weed and alcohol impairs functioning from basic motor skills to more complex cognitive tasks.12 Combining THC and alcohol has been shown to weaken driving performance.6, 14
Yes, you can overdose from drinking alcohol. Heavy drinking puts you at an increased risk of overdosing. Overdosing can lead to alcohol poisoning, which is life-threatening.
A marijuana overdose is unlikely.
However, you can “green out” and experience a bad reaction from smoking too much marijuana or ingesting too much THC. Greening out makes you feel out of control of your mind and body.
The best thing to do if you have a bad reaction from drinking too much alcohol is seek emergency medical attention.
If you’re experiencing alcohol poisoning, you need immediate medical help. An alcohol overdose can lead to serious health consequences or even death.
If you have a bad reaction from weed, the best thing to do is try to relax. The most common adverse reactions to cannabis use are coughing fits, anxiety, and paranoia, which account for more than half of all bad reactions.8
Panic attacks, fainting, and vomiting can be very distressing reactions to cannabis, however, they are likely to improve within several hours. Medical attention is necessary if symptoms are serious or there is a concern of alcohol poisoning.
The following statistics provide insight into AUD and SUD in the United States:
Knowing when to seek professional help for AUD/SUD can be difficult. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or marijuana addiction, help is available.
Some signs of alcohol addiction and weed misuse include:
Addiction treatments span from traditional talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to rehabilitation centers, support groups, medication-assisted treatments, and more.
Talk to your doctor or reach out to a mental health professional to discuss your options.
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