Can You Mix Weed (Marijuana) and Alcohol?

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Is it safe to mix weed and alcohol? Over recent years, marijuana (also known as weed) has experienced many changes in its legal status (1). These changes leave many to wonder about the safety of this hallucinogen. This safety is especially questioned when marijuana is used in combination with a potent depressant like alcohol.

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What Does Cross-Faded Mean?

When different substances are mixed, they can produce a multitude of new experiences. Mixing alcohol and marijuana is no exception. Alcohol (2) by itself is a powerful depressant. Belonging to the sedative-hypnotic category, it is responsible for feelings of sedation, relaxation, decreased inhibitions and often decreased motor functions. Due to its legal status, many consider alcohol as being safe for consumption regardless of the amount. Though it is legal, excessive alcohol consumption can be potentially dangerous especially when used in combination with other substances.

Marijuana (3) is classified as a psychedelic/hallucinogen. It carries this distinction due to its ability to alter the user’s perception. When these substances are used together, the effects compound resulting in an experience known as “cross-faded.” This slang term is used to describe a user who is under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol simultaneously. Though this experience can be pleasant for many users, it can also result in a multitude of potentially dangerous side effects.

What Are the Symptoms & Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol & Weed?

Mixing two substances often leads to feeling a compounded effect. The combination of alcohol and marijuana is no different. Short term effects include increased drowsiness, impaired cognitive function, and decreased motor functions. A 2013 study (4) found a significant decrease in the driving ability of those who mixed alcohol and weed. This study also found that THC content is higher in the bloodstream when alcohol is consumed.

Long term effects of mixing alcohol include impairment of cognitive ability and increased symptoms of mental health conditions. Alcohol alone has been proven to increase symptoms of depression. This effect is compounded when those who drink alcohol also use marijuana.

Can CBD & Alcohol Safely Be Consumed?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a recently popularized derivative of the help plant. It is described as not producing a high while still providing some sedative properties of marijuana. Recent studies have concluded that the use of CBD in combination with alcohol significantly lowers (5) the motor function of those who use both. This study also found that the presence of CBD lowers the detection of alcohol in the bloodstream when measured by a breathalyzer.

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How Alcohol & Cannabis (THC) Increase Depressive Symptoms in the Brain

Though there is a strong relation between alcohol and marijuana use making depressive symptoms worse (6), there are only theories about the cause. There is a correlation, however scientists are unsure if substance use is the determining factor in depressive symptoms, or if those experiencing depressive symptoms use these substances. Both alcohol and marijuana have been shown to depress the central nervous system. Alcohol is classified as a sedative-hypnotic. This means that it is in the same category as benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax. Though it does not usually produce the same effects as these prescription sedatives, it can cause a slowing of the central nervous system. These effects are multiplied when mixed with marijuana leading many users to feel as though their depressive symptoms have worsened.

Risks of Impairment Mental Ability & Judgment

Many tests conducted on the combination of marijuana and alcohol show that it greatly decreased cognitive function and mental ability. Often motor skills are the most severely impacted. When alcohol and marijuana are mixed, a potentially dangerous lack of reaction time and balance can result in accident and injury. Decision making skills are also affected causing the user to make decisions that they would normally avoid. This poor judgment causes an increase in high risk decision making.

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Many times, combining multiple substances is the result of a substance use disorder. If you or someone you love feels like they need help to overcome addictive cycles in their life, Guardian Recovery is here to help. Our national network of substance use treatment facilities means that quality treatment is closer than you may think. Our team of highly trained addiction professionals are passionate about ensuring that you receive the help that you need. Call today to speak with a treatment advisor. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about the treatment process and help you take your first step. Recovery is possible and it may be closer than you think.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://disa.com/marijuana-legality-by-state
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/cannabis-marijuana
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22871272/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/120541/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332004/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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