People may use alcohol and marijuana together, but their combined effects can increase your risk of higher THC levels, greater impairment and alcohol poisoning.

It is common for people to mix alcohol and marijuana. In fact, marijuana is the most frequently used substance among drinkers. People may use a combination of these substances to get more of an effect for both or combat the side effects of one or the other, but it can be risky and unsafe.

Article at a Glance:

  • 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 can lead to a greater degree of impairment than either on its own.
  • 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.

The Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana

When someone uses alcohol and marijuana together, they might start to notice they feel the effects of one (or both) much more quickly and more pronounced than otherwise.

Marijuana and alcohol both impact the central nervous system. Marijuana impacts areas of the brain responsible for memory, thinking, pleasure and perceiving time and senses. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the entire central nervous system, heavily impacting motor skills, judgment, cognition and memory.

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.

When people drink and smoke marijuana together, alcohol increases the amount of THC that is absorbed into the body. While this means that people who use an alcohol and marijuana combination may report a “higher high,” the lows can also become amplified. For example, impaired judgment symptoms are more obvious.

What Are the Risks of Mixing Weed and Alcohol?

While people might use a combination of alcohol and marijuana 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 can absorb THC more quickly when there’s alcohol in your blood, which can increase the risk of experiencing uncomfortable side effects.

Combining the two substances also leads to a greater degree of impairment than taking either one on its own. This can increase your risk for accidents and injury. 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. Further, if you try to cut back on either alcohol or cannabis, your reliance on the other substance is likely to increase.

A recent study has also shown that those who consumed alcohol had much higher levels of THC in their bloodstream compared to a placebo group. So if you’re planning to detox from marijuana, drinking alcohol is not advised.

What Is Greening Out?

If you’re researching the safety of mixing 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 due to the higher THC levels when you drink. This is also commonly known as becoming “cross faded,” which indicates the combination of two substances (most commonly weed and alcohol.)

How To Handle a Bad Reaction

If a person has been drinking and smoking weed, higher THC levels in their blood from drinking may increase the risk of a bad reaction. Because physical and mental impairment can be more pronounced when you combine cannabis and alcohol, it can be hard to know if someone’s symptoms are due to a marijuana green-out or excessive alcohol intake.

Because alcohol poisoning can be deadly, it is best to seek medical attention to make sure that your symptoms are not due to a dangerous blood alcohol level.

While awaiting medical attention, it is important to keep the person safe from harm. This includes preventing injury and providing reassurance and emotional support.

Can You Overdose On Alcohol & Marijuana?

Another risk of an alcohol and marijuana combination is that you may take too much of either substance. Although using too much marijuana isn’t usually life-threatening, inhalation burns and asthma attacks from smoking cannabis can be deadly.

Drinking too much alcohol can be lethal. If you’re using an alcohol and marijuana combination, you can be more likely to get alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

When To Get Help

It is important to seek emergency medical help if you suspect a person is experiencing alcohol poisoning. Because a person becomes more impaired when they mix THC and alcohol, it can be hard to tell if a person is reacting to too much drink or too much cannabis. The signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Problems staying conscious
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Clammy skin
  • Dulled reflexes
  • Bluish or pale skin color

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.

a man sitting on a bed with his head in his hands.
Can I Detox From Alcohol At Home?

Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own. That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals.

a person holding a glass of beer on a couch.
Am I An Alcoholic?

Alcoholism takes many forms, and the stereotype doesn’t always hold true. So when do a few drinks with friends become a full-blown alcohol addiction? How do you know if you are an alcoholic?

a woman holding her stomach in front of her stomach.
Repairing Liver Damage From Alcohol Use

While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease.

a table topped with fruits and vegetables next to juice.
Foods to Eat When Detoxing From Alcohol

When detoxing, hydration is key. However, certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification.

a white alarm clock sitting on top of a wooden table.
How Long Does Alcohol Detox & Withdrawal Take?

Detox from alcohol can begin within hours. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen for heavier drinkers. Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session.

a group of people holding glasses of beer.
What Are the Effects of Daily Drinking?

Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention.

a woman wearing glasses and a blazer.
Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
a woman wearing glasses and a white robe.
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

American Association for Clinical Chemistry. “Any dose of alcohol combined with cannab[…]els of THC in blood.” May 27, 2015. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Chait, LD; Perry, JL. “Acute and residual effects of alcohol an[…]mood and performance.” Psychopharmacology (Berlin), July 1994. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Karoly, Hollis C.; Ross, J. Megan; Prince, Mark A.; et al. “Effects of cannabis use on alcohol consu[…]drinkers in Colorado.” Addiction, September 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.” May 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Marijuana Intoxication.” January 1, 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Subbaraman, Meenakshi S.; Kerr, William C. “Simultaneous vs. concurrent use of alcoh[…]ional Alcohol Survey.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, May 2015. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Sheikh, Nafiz K.; Dua, Anterpreet. “Cannabinoids.” StatPearls, July 25, 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.

U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drugs of Abuse.” April 2020. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Brumback, Ty; Cao, Dingcai; King, Andrea. “Effects of Alcohol on Psychomotor Perfor[…]inge Social Drinkers.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, June 8, 2007. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Gunn, Rachel L.; Sokolovsky, Alexander; Stevens, Angela K.; et al. “Ordering in alcohol and cannabis co-use:[…]ion and consequences.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, January 1, 2021. Accessed October 2, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.