Individuals often get together using alcohol and weeds. These medications have common effects on the body and mind including somnolence, slower reflexes, and changes in understanding of judgment and time.
The mixture of weed and alcohol will improve these drug effects and cause adverse reactions. The mixture may also result in people engaging in uncommon or dangerous behaviours.
Not all react to weed, alcohol or a combination of both in the same way, and many factors play a role in how an individual will respond. Nevertheless, understanding the potential outcomes of combining such drugs is beneficial.
Mixing alcohol and weed
Studies on the long-term effects of alcohol consumption alongside hemp, which people often call marijuana or cannabis, is minimal.
However, the current body of research is likely to grow and develop as more states start legalizing marijuana use.
The possible known effects of mixing weeds with alcohol currently include the following:
Alterations in judgment
Both alcohol and marijuana may affect a judgment of a person. This effect will escalate when humans mix the two medications. Their combined use can lead to blackouts, memory loss, and a greater likelihood of risky behaviour.
Research indicates that people who combine alcohol and cannabis are more likely to engage in behavior-seeking behaviors than those who only drink alcohol.
Concurrently, the use of alcohol and weed often increases the chances of having unprotected sex with a partner, as well as other negative outcomes relevant to legal issues, education and ties.
Alcohol is a diuretic which means more urine is produced by people. This can cause them to become dehydrated for several hours, because they lose more fluid than they eat. The effect could be compounded by using alcohol and cannabis together.
In rare cases, the use of chronic marijuana can lead to syndrome of cannabinoid hyperemesis, which causes severe nausea, vomiting and dehydration.
Mental health problems
Research shows that there is a correlation between regular heavy alcohol use and poor mental health, including psychological distress and low satisfaction with life.
The American Psychiatric Association warned in a 2018 training document called Opposition to Marijuana as Medicine that marijuana use could worsen or increase the onset of psychiatric illnesses.
The American Psychological Association indicates that the developing brains of teenagers are particularly vulnerable to long-term damage from marijuana use.
Long-term physical health risks
Any form of drug misuse, especially in the long term, can lead to problems with the:
- gastrointestinal system
- immune system
Reduced cognitive function
Use of marijuana may lead to cognitive decline, reduced attention and memory, and decreased IQ, especially in developing brains.
Long-term use of both alcohol and weed can cause structural changes in the brain, with more prominent effects arising from a combination of those drugs. Researchers have found heavy weed consumers who drink alcohol have worse cognitive function than people who consume cannabis only.
Together marijuana and alcohol can also affect the reaction times and other cognitive functions required for healthy conduction.
A study conducted in 2013 showed that those who mixed marijuana and alcohol exhibited regularly impaired driving performance during simulations. The findings also found that regular cannabis users made more driving mistakes than those who didn’t use the drug on a regular basis.
The authors of a report in 2017 suggest that people who use alcohol and marijuana together usually eat more of both drugs. This higher intake will increase the risk of alcohol, marijuana, or both addictions.
A 2019 study supports this, finding that those who use alcohol and marijuana at the same time are more likely to drink more alcohol.
There is the risk for overdose like with any substance use. As the research suggests, individuals who use alcohol and marijuana together tend to consume more of both. High rates of use increase the risk of overdose.
Smoking weed after drinking alcohol
The order in which a person uses weed and alcohol will affect the result.
Smoking weed after drinking alcohol may heighten weed’s effects. This is because alcohol increases the absorption of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. People who smoke marijuana often feel a stronger high after drinking alcohol.
Some people may experience a “green out,” particularly those not used to marijuana consumption. A green out can cause intense and uncomfortable symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, nausea and vomiting.
Higher absorption of THC can also cause anxiety, panic and paranoia.
Drinking alcohol after smoking weed
Cannabis usage before alcohol may slow the increase of levels of blood alcohol, which can reduce or postpone the sensation of being drunk. This observation, however, comes from older studies and this analysis has been criticized by some.
If cannabis use reduces the rise in alcohol levels in the blood, this can lead people to drink more than normal. This in turn could increase risky behavior and the likelihood of alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol and edibles
Certain types of cannabis, like edibles, can also communicate with alcohol causing the majority of the same risks as cannabis smoking. Edibles are products containing marijuana or its active ingredients, for instance THC.
Additional risks can occur because edibles are easy to overconsume. Just small amounts of edibles, depending on the amount of THC and other cannabinoids that they contain, can produce strong highs.
Alcohol can also make people feel hungry more than normal, which can cause them to overindulge in edibles.
Persons who drink alcohol and eat food should control what they are eating with care. Though, when drinking alcohol it’s easier to avoid edibles altogether.
The combined use of weed and alcohol will worsen the effects of both medications. Using one opioid without the other is better, but use of neither is the safest option.
People who choose to mix the two will keep track of how much they consume alcohol and weed.
Anyone worried about using either or both drugs should call a doctor or call the National Opioid Helpline on 1-844-289-0879.