Estimated 6-minute read
Have you ever been to a party where guests passing a joint are also enjoying cocktails? It’s certainly common to see people pair weed with alcohol, but it can't be denied that these two substances can often lead to unwanted reactions when they’re not controlled.
To be fair, mixing booze and marijuana is not a very much researched subject; however, a couple of small studies have recently been performed with the help of volunteers. This article will dive into their conclusions, some considerations, and how to deal with the situation when things go south.
Let’s go back to the basics, shall we?
All drugs fall into at least one category: depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and opioids. The first type will slow down your brain function, while the second one will elevate your mood and increase your alertness and energy. Hallucinogens will alter the perception of your reality, and opioids will produce feelings of euphoria.
So in which category do weed and alcohol fall?
Alcohol is a depressant substance, although it does have a few initial stimulant effects. Perhaps booze will make you brave and click send to that risky text; it may also give you the courage to lean in for the kiss. And yet, you have to be ready for the aftermath because alcohol will quickly turn into a depressant, which means it will slow your body down thanks to the alcohol’s effect on the nervous system and brain function.
Marijuana is a bit more complicated to categorize because its effects can vary enormously from person to person. Still, according to Healthline, weed has been classified by experts as a depressant, stimulant, and even a hallucinogen.
So what happens when you mix two substances categorized as depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens all at once? As silly as it may sound, the answer lies in which substance you take first.
Alcohol Before Weed
A study carried out in 2015 had 19 participants drink either a placebo or small amount of alcohol; ten minutes later, they inhaled either a low or a high dose of THC.
The researchers found that there were significantly higher peak THC levels among the participants who took a drink, the dose being low or high. The conclusion: Because alcohol increases the absorption of THC, booze will most likely intensify weed’s effects.
Healthline’s takeaway is this: If you’re sensitive to weed or don’t have much experience using it, it’s best to avoid mixing both substances. If you really want to try it out, then proceed slowly and listen to your body.
Weed Before Alcohol
There’s not much research about what happens when you take weed before alcohol, but a 1992 study with 15 participants concluded the following: weed slows down the absorption of alcohol levels in the blood, which may delay feelings of drunkenness. This could put you in a dangerous position since you won’t know how impaired you actually are, increasing the risk of alcohol intoxication.
Healthline’s takeaway is this: If you use weed before alcohol, assume you’ve had an extra drink or two. It’s important to pay attention to how much you’re drinking after using weed, so to keep you and your friends safe just aim to drink less than you usually would.
As things generally go with weed, how impaired you’ll get from mixing alcohol and marijuana will depend on a few factors. The Outlaw Report mentions that the type of alcohol, the cannabis you’re consuming and how much tolerance you have for both substances will have a say on the effect.
However, studies suggest that drinking before smoking will most likely result in an intense high, which may cause people to “green out.” The latter refers to a reaction of physical symptoms when having a strong high, like sweating, getting dizzy, having nausea and vomiting.
A small list of things to consider
Look, I’m not your parent and I won’t tell you what to do, but I do know one thing for certain: this topic isn’t meant to be taken lightly.
Taking a look at the studies mentioned during this article, it is safe to say that mixing weed and alcohol could have very bad results if carried out without being responsible. Nonetheless, if you’re still willing to explore and live the experience, make sure to proceed with caution.
Here’s some considerations from Healthline and The Outlaw Report that you should keep in mind:
- Mixing an edible with alcohol can be super intense, even for people who have high THC tolerance.
- If you’ve consumed alcohol, you will have worse cognitive functioning than those who only consumed THC. The two combined will reduce your cognitive performance.
- Weed and alcohol will affect your driving, so please don’t drive after using marijuana and drinking alcohol.
- The interval of time in which you take each substance will have an effect on your body, so be mindful and take it slow. You could even keep count in your notes app of how much you’ve had.
- Medication could also affect how your body will react to the two substances combined, so be sure to ask your doctor.
What to do when things go south?
Green out happens when you’ve had too much weed, with or without alcohol. Unpleasant emotions and physical outcomes of green out can include anxiety, chills, hallucinations, sweating, racing heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, panic, and paranoia.
It’s always better to be prepared than caught off-guard, so if you or a friend starts having these kind of reactions here’s how to handle it:
- Ask a friend to drive you home; if it’s not possible, then find a quiet place to sit or lie down while the dizziness passes.
- Smell crushed peppercorns; people have reported that they help calm your body down when a weed reaction gets very bad.
- Stay calm and focus on something else, like music or drawing or something that you enjoy.
- Stay hydrated! Both substances can make you feel like you haven’t had a glass of water for a week, so having sips of natural water will help calm your head and stay down to earth.
- Talk to someone and avoid being alone. A trusted friend can truly make the difference between having spiraling thoughts or easing the anxiety and land back on your feet.
Author: Mary Jane
Hartman, R. L., Brown, T. L., Milavetz, G., Spurgin, A., Gorelick, D.A., Gaffney, G., Huestis, M.A. (2015). Clinical Chemistry, Volume 61, Issue 6, 1 June 2015, Pages 850–869. Oxford Academic. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1373/clinchem.2015.238287
Healthline (2020). Is Alcohol a Stimulant? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-alcohol-a-stimulant
Healthline (2018). Is Weed a Depressant, Stimulant, or Hallucinogen? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/is-weed-a-depressant
Healthline (2019). What Really Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Weed? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-weed
Pyhtila, J. (2022). It Safe to Mix Alcohol & Marijuana? The Recovery Village. Retrieved from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/alcohol-and-marijuana/
Tillotson, J. (2021). Ask A Stoner: Is It Bad To Smoke Weed And Drink Alcohol?. The Outlaw Report. Retrieved from https://outlawreport.com/ask-a-stoner-is-it-bad-to-smoke-weed-and-drink-alcohol/