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What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Weed Use?

Posted by MMJ Jill on Apr 22, 2021

Mixing weed and alcohol creates more substantial but less predictable results than taking either alone. Consuming alcohol and THC together can affect how you feel and act. 

Be careful with mixing alcohol and marijuana -- it’s easier to green out (use too much) and have a bad time than it is if you’re just smoking. The effects of drinking and smoking weed may vary depending on:

  • Your tolerance for alcohol and THC;
  • What type and proof of the alcohol you’re drinking -- Everclear vs. a Bud Light;
  • What form you consume THC in -- smoking, edibles, concentrates, etc.;
  • How quickly you consume both alcohol and THC;
  • Whether you take any medication that can conflict with either weed or alcohol.

What Does Cross-Faded Mean?

While it can refer to multiple substances, being cross-faded usually means consuming alcohol and weed together or being drunk and high at the same time. The effects of getting crossed can vary from person to person, and it may take different amounts of alcohol and weed to feel drunk and high at the same time.

How To Stop Being Cross Faded

One reason it’s important to keep an eye on crossfading is that once you’re there, it can be difficult to become un-cross faded. While the only thing that can help you stop being crossfaded is time, there are things you can try to keep things manageable. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as both alcohol and marijuana can be dehydrating. This can help decrease the alcohol level in your blood, which will also make you feel more sober. Try to stay cool as possible, as getting crossed will likely make you feel hot. You can also try sleeping it off, although closing your eyes can give some people the spins, a sensation where you feel dizzy and like everything is spinning around you. 

Alcohol Vs Marijuana

Alcohol and THC each affect the body in a unique way. It’s well known that alcohol is a depressant. On the other hand, weed and THC can affect you in a more calming way, depending on you and the strain. If you drink a little bit and smoke a little bit, you might not feel any immediate effects. But as you consume alcohol and weed together in larger amounts, you are likely to feel more intense symptoms. Let's explore how alcohol and THC affect the body to better understand what happens when mixing alcohol and marijuana.

How Alcohol and Marijuana Get You High

Marijuana’s high comes when the psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects the cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells in the brain. THC’s chemical makeup is very similar to that of a neurotransmitter chemical found in our brains, anandamide. By sending chemical messages between nerve cells, anandamide influences pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, the senses, and time perception. THC enters your bloodstream when you smoke and makes its way to your brain. Its similarity to anandamide means that it can attach to the cannabinoid receptors and similarly influence some of the same cognitive functions.

On the other hand, alcohol works on a few different neurotransmitters to activate the reward system that makes you feel good and reinforces behaviors.

  • Dopamine: Makes you feel pleasure;
  • Serotonin: Makes you feel happy and calm;
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid: Also known as GABA, lowers inhibitions;
  • N-methyl-d-aspartate: Also known as NMDA, excitatory neurotransmitter.

Although the chemical effects are the same for everyone, alcohol and marijuana both affect different people differently. Don’t assume just because your friend does fine getting faded that you will have the same results.

Depending on which you do first, drink alcohol or smoke weed -- you will probably feel either more or less intoxicated.

Should You Drink Or Smoke First?

Understanding the effects of smoking weed and drinking at the same time can help us to better decide what is best for ourselves. While we do not recommend mixing alcohol and weed together, especially to the point of being drunk and high, the order in which you consume them can affect you in different ways.

Alcohol First, Then Weed

Drinking before you light up or eat an edible usually creates a higher, longer high. The alcohol in your system dilates blood vessels, increasing the amount of THC that is absorbed into your bloodstream. Depending on how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, that heightened level of THC can stay in your bloodstream for a long while. That’s because your liver will process the alcohol in your system before it moves on to breaking down the THC.  

A longer, stronger high might sound fun, but it’s more likely to cause a green out than if you just smoked weed by itself. Since a green out comes with sweating, dizziness, nausea -- and probably anxiety, paranoia, and a case of the spins -- it can make for a rough night.

It’s imperative to be careful when getting cross-faded using alcohol and edibles. Since it can take an hour or longer for the food to get digested enough for the THC to enter the bloodstream, some may assume it’s not working and take more. If that happens, when the THC from the original edible kicks in, the effects can quickly give you the undesirable effects of the dreaded green out.

Weed First, Then Alcohol

Smoking weed or eating edibles and drinking alcohol will delay that tipsy feeling, making it much more likely that you’ll drink too much. Pay very close attention to how many drinks you’ve had -- mark it down or send yourself a text every time you start a new drink so you can easily count how many you’ve had. If you lose count, assume you’ve had more than you think.

Cross Fading Risks

Mixing alcohol and marijuana definitely has its risks. Those who enjoy the feeling of being faded need to be aware of the following:

  • Greening out: Getting too high can lead to nausea, vomiting, sweating, and dizziness.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol and weed are both diuretics, meaning they cause your body to expel fluids faster. Make sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Hunger: Alcohol and marijuana both make you feel hungrier. If you also have a supply of edibles around, it’s more tempting to consume them, which would only heighten crossfading risks.
  • Impaired Driving: Especially if you’ve smoked weed first, you may not feel the effects of the alcohol in your system as quickly. Regardless, both weed and alcohol will delay reaction times and cause poor judgment. 
  • Risky Behavior: Poor judgment impacts more than driving. Getting crunk can cause people to become very uninhibited, leading to a situation where they could say or do things that they wouldn’t otherwise.
  • Alcohol Poisoning: More just than getting sloppy drunk, drinking enough to get alcohol poisoning can kill you. Since marijuana can delay the effects of booze, it’s easier to drink enough to send you to the emergency room.
  • Lower Cognitive Function: Perception, memory, learning, attention, decision-making, and language abilities all decrease when your crossfade. Over time, it may affect brain structure.
  • Dependence: People who repeatedly use weed and alcohol together are more likely to develop a dependence on one or both.

Does Weed Help With A Hangover?

While crossfading refers to mixing alcohol and marijuana at the same time, there can be a reason to consume them separately at separate times. If you drink enough alcohol, you’re likely to feel the effects of a hangover the next day. Smoking weed during a hangover is anecdotally known to possibly have the relieving effects of reducing feelings of anxiety, nausea, or general pain. However, this is very different from crossfading, to be clear.

Crossfading a Little More Safely

No, it’s not safe to crossfade, and we don’t recommend it. But we know people will do it anyway. If you’re going to drink alcohol and smoke pot simultaneously, make sure you reduce the number of risks you take.

  • Don’t Drive: A designated driver is a must when you’re crossfading at a party or bar. Don’t drive home. Take an Uber or Lyft or ask a friend to give you a ride.
  • Stay Home: Even better than not driving is just staying home. 
  • Go Slow: Since the high from alcohol and weed can be unpredictable, go slowly. Slamming a set of fireballs and then gobbling some gummies is a sure way to green out.

The moral of the story about mixing weed and alcohol is to listen to your body and not overindulge in either of the substances. Be smart and remember to hydrate to prevent the bad time that can come with being crossed.

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