If you’re having a drink with friends and someone offers you marijuana, you might want to think twice about combining it with alcohol. Although it may seem like a harmless thing to do, mixing marijuana and alcohol can have more serious consequences than you may realize.
Magnification of the intoxicating effects when mixing marijuana and alcohol
The use of alcohol and marijuana at the same time amplifies the effects of both substances. So even though a person may be accustomed to say, a few puffs of marijuana every now and again, THC is absorbed into the blood faster when alcohol is present. This means that in addition to the high of the alcohol, the marijuana will add a higher level of intoxication than the body may be able to handle. The effects of even moderate doses of the two substances combined can result in serious levels of impairment and intensify side effects of both.
Potential alcohol poisoning when combined with smoking marijuana
Marijuana provides what’s called an antiemetic effect, meaning that it makes it more difficult to vomit. The reason over drinking causes vomiting is because the body is ridding itself of the excess alcohol. But when you add marijuana to the mix, you may thwart the body’s ability to get rid of the now-toxic levels of alcohol. According to the CDC, there are more than 2,200 alcohol-poisoning deaths in the US each year.
Potential psychotic symptoms when you smoke marijuana and drink alcohol
Both alcohol and marijuana slow down the central nervous system. In some people the combined effect of the two substances can result in panic, anxiety, terror, paranoia, or other psychotic symptoms.
Impairment of brain functioning if you smoke and drink
Other common symptoms of mixing alcohol and marijuana include compromised judgment (leading to risky behaviors); decreased attention, perception, and memory; impaired thinking and problem solving; and changes in emotional behavior.
Risk of fatality when combining alcohol and marijuana
Research studies have found that the risk of a fatal crash is 13% higher in alcohol-impaired drivers than sober drivers, which probably comes as no surprise. But for drivers under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, the risk of fatal crash jumps to 24%.
If you need help with marijuana or alcohol addiction…ask
If you find yourself mixing marijuana and alcohol to deliberately achieve higher levels of intoxication, it may be helpful to talk to someone about why. When you need more alcohol or more marijuana to get “high,” you may be building a tolerance, and as your tolerance increases, so does your risk of developing an addiction.
Mental health professionals, 12-step programs, and recovery centers, are good resources for getting the help you need with drug- or alcohol-dependency.
There is help. All you need to do is ask.