Article at a Glance:
It’s not safe to mix marijuana and alcohol. Here’s a summary of the reasons why.
- Using alcohol and marijuana in combination increases your risk of experiencing uncomfortable side effects, due to increased absorption of THC.
- Using a combination of alcohol and marijuana is more likely to cause side effects such as paranoia and panic.
- When you combine alcohol and marijuana, you’re more likely to experience “greening out” which is a sick feeling following the use of marijuana.
- Using marijuana and alcohol in combination can make alcohol poisoning more likely, which can be life-threatening.
Table of Contents
Mixing Alcohol & Marijuana
Two of the substances people most regularly use are alcohol and marijuana, but what if they’re used together? People may use a combination of these substances to get more of an effect for both or to combat the side effects of one or the other, but it can be risky.
Is it safe to mix marijuana and alcohol? In short, no it isn’t. Below are more details about why using alcohol and marijuana together isn’t a good idea.
The Effects of Alcohol & Marijuana
When someone uses alcohol and marijuana together, they might start to notice they feel the effects of one (or both) much more quickly than they would otherwise and in a more pronounced way. Marijuana impacts certain areas of the brain, including the ones that are responsible for memory, sensory and time perception, thinking and pleasure. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system.
One of the main active ingredients in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC and alcohol are both psychoactive. THC acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which can lead to cognitive effects and impairments. Alcohol heavily impacts motor skills because of how it influences the central nervous system but can affect cognition as well.
When people drink and smoke marijuana together, alcohol may increase the amount of THC that is absorbed into the body. The reason for this appears to be because alcohol widens the blood vessels in the lungs, allowing for the greater absorption of the THC.
While most people who use an alcohol and marijuana combination report a “higher high,” the lows can also become amplified. For example, increased heart rate and impaired judgment symptoms are more obvious.
Some of the symptoms of using marijuana on its own can include coordination problems, nausea, headache, increased appetite, tremors, breathing problems, anxiety, sleepiness, and memory troubles. Other symptoms of marijuana use may include paranoia and hallucinations.
What Are the Risks?
While people might use a combination of alcohol and marijuana as a way to experience a more intense high, this can be dangerous. The effects of marijuana and alcohol on their own are unpredictable, and combining them makes this worse. You are going to absorb THC more quickly when there’s alcohol in your blood, and this can increase the risk of experiencing uncomfortable side effects.
When you use alcohol, you may blackout or lose memories for a period of time, and marijuana can also affect your memory. You may put yourself in risky or dangerous situations if you’re drinking or using marijuana, and an alcohol and marijuana combination makes this even more likely.
It’s also important to note that if you regularly use an alcohol and marijuana combination, you’re at a higher risk of developing a dependence on one or both of the substances.
What is Greening Out?
If you’re researching “is it safe to mix marijuana and alcohol,” you may come across the term “greening out.” It refers to a person feeling sick after smoking marijuana. This can happen with marijuana use on its own, but with an alcohol and marijuana combination, it’s more likely to happen.
Can You Overdose On Alcohol & Marijuana?
Another risk of an alcohol and marijuana combination is that you may take too much of one or either substance. Using too much marijuana isn’t usually going to be life-threatening but drinking too much alcohol absolutely is.
If you’re using an alcohol and marijuana combination, you’re more likely to get alcohol poisoning, which can kill you, than you are to have a marijuana overdose. This risk is higher with an alcohol and marijuana combination because smoking marijuana makes it harder for you to vomit. When you can’t vomit, your body is unable to get rid of extra alcohol.
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.
You shouldn’t mix marijuana and alcohol. If you think you’re abusing these or other substances, help is available. Contact us to speak with an intake coordinator who can answer your questions and help you understand what options may be available to you.
Science Daily. “Any dose of alcohol combined with cannabis significantly increases levels of THC in blood.” 2015. Accessed May 10, 2020.
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