The Drug Class Blog

Jul 27

1+1= 3?

Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana


Behind nicotine, alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly used drugs in the United States. The popularity and availability of these drugs means that the chances that they will be used together are highly probable. At this point they are the most readily available and first on the list in the current trends for teenagers to try and have problems with.This isn’t particularly earth shattering information, in fact all you’d have to do is go to any high school or college party in the nation and you’d see this. There is even a saying that accompanies it that starts, “Beer before grass…” that tells you the preferred order for using these drugs together, but as commonly used as these drugs are, combining them together is not altogether safe.


The common thought is that both of these substances aren’t really dangerous, in fact in some places in the USA both are even legal, so mixing them together can’t be that bad, right? Wrong. While not as much is known about the effect that these two drugs have on the human brain when they are combined as is known about how they affect the brain separately, new studies are attempting to shed on this.

 Scott Lukas, a professor at Harvard Medical School, looked into the matter of cross-fading, the term used to describe being high on marijuana and drunk, and he found some surprising results.

 One of the main findings that Lukas’ study showed is that those people who smoked a joint and then drank a lot of alcohol had almost double the amount of THC present in their system as those who didn’t drink. This means that the effects of the marijuana from that joint were considerably amplified when alcohol was introduced into the body. Lukas’ study didn’t find exactly why this occurred but he speculated that because alcohol can change the way that blood vessels absorb THC, the alcohol actually caused the THC to get absorbed into the bloodstream quicker.


While this seems to make sense because anyone who has ever smoked and then drank understands that they experience an intensification of their high, what this also means is that combining alcohol and marijuana leaves you open to having more of the drug introduced into your body than you may have intended. This can result in what is commonly known as a green out, which can cause a person to feel sick, dizzy, and may even result in vomiting.


Another study on the effect of teenagers combining marijuana and alcohol found that teens that had used both drugs in the previous year reported a higher rate of traffic tickets, citations, and accidents. Teens who used both at the same time were 50 to 90% more likely to admit to unsafe driving than teens that did not combine both.


This is where the real risk of combining marijuana and alcohol becomes apparent. Both drugs act to lower inhibitions, it is part of what being under the influence does and so when both are introduced into the system the likelihood that poor decision making will follow increases exponentially. Many teens that may not have gotten behind the wheel of their car if they were just drinking, may do so after they smoke marijuana because their judgment is impaired. Driving drunk is dangerous enough on it’s own, killing almost 10,000 people in 2014, but when marijuana is introduced into the equation the chances for an accident goes up considerably.


Another place where alcohol and marijuana usage effects inhibitions is with sex. A recent study among college-aged women showed that smoking marijuana lead to a five times greater chance that they would have a “casual hook-up” then if they were sober. The study also found that alcohol increased these chances by 53%. Researchers found that there was a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and safe sex practices. They found that the more alcohol was consumed the lesser the chances that a condom would be used. Since mixing alcohol and marijuana increases the level of THC present in the system it is safe to say that mixing these two drugs can result in a greater risk for unsafe sex practices, which can lead to STDs or other complications.


Both marijuana and alcohol act as a stimulant and depressant, but the effects that the high produces from these two substances can differ greatly. For instance the most commonly recognized effect of marijuana is a paranoia of sorts, whereas alcohol, when taken in enough quantity, is recognized to slow down motor functions and can result in depression. Combining paranoia with depression is a dangerous combination and can lead to erratic behavior that would not have resulted if it were not for the combination of the two drugs.


While usage of marijuana and alcohol among teens has declined in recent years, the number of teens who have used these drugs is still relatively high. In 2015 58.2% of 12th graders in the United States admitted to having drank and 34.9% admitted to having smoked marijuana. This means that 1 in 3 high school seniors have smoked pot in the last year and 1 in 2 have drank.


No data was available for what percentage of teens combined these drugs, but regardless of a lack of numbers the fact remains that combining marijuana and alcohol can have unexpected and unwanted results. Numerous studies have shown that combining any drug with alcohol can intensify its effects and can create negative interactions. Whether this an increase in the THC levels of the bloodstream, a lowered inhibition towards driving or safe sex, or just a biochemical mixture resulting in erratic behavior, combining these two drugs can result in dangerous outcomes. It would be best if you just avoided using either of these substances, but if that is not the case then remember if you are a party and you have had a bit to drink don’t smoke or vice-versa. It only takes one mistake to alter your life so be smart about what you put into your body because as harmless as these two substances may seem they are still drugs.





Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.


You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram


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