What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Marijuana?

Did you know that smoking marijuana and alcohol abuse go hand-in-hand?

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.6 million Americans report both daily marijuana use and heavy drinking. Using these two substances simultaneously intensifies the intoxicating effects of both, thereby creating a “synergistic risk” that poses greater dangers than when they are used separately.

How Alcohol Affects Weed Consumption

For example, drinking can cause a more than 50% elevation in blood THC levels. Moreover, this effect is dose-dependent, meaning the more you drink, the greater your marijuana intoxication becomes.

This happens because alcohol is a vasodilator – drinking opens the blood vessels in the lungs, allowing for greater absorption of THC.

How Weed Affects Alcohol Consumption

People who are high on marijuana often drink much more than they might have otherwise, for several reasons.

First, cannabis lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment. That means that a person who is smoking pot may drink even when they were not planning to, and then drink more than they intended.

Second, marijuana has antiemetic effects, meaning it keeps users from throwing up. This means that a person who might otherwise get sick from overconsumption and stop drinking can now keep drinking even more.

This not only leads to worsened intoxication, but also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, and alcohol poisoning. In fact, 43% of alcohol poisoning cases involve the co-use of marijuana.

Smoking, Drinking, and Driving

Simulated driving tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that using marijuana and alcohol can increase the effects of being intoxicated with a .04% Blood Alcohol Content to the equivalent of a .14% BAC.

What would that combined effect mean in a practical driving situation?

First, people under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana exhibit a reaction time that is 36% slower than those who have used neither. For a vehicle moving at 59 miles per hour, that delay means an extra 139 feet of stopping distance.

When pot and booze are used together, the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash jumps eightfold.

If you suspect that you or a loved one might have a problem with either alcohol or marijuana use, take our brief self-assessments to find if it’s time to seek help.

What Does This Mean for You?

Alcohol and marijuana are both legal in California, but that doesn’t mean that using them together is a good idea. On the contrary, it puts both you and others in danger.

Engaging in risky substance use behaviors is a major red flag that there might be a more serious problem. But if you are finding it hard to modify those behaviors on your own, Lasting Recovery can help.

We are the oldest and most trusted outpatient rehab in San Diego, and we are the go-to resource for Southern California residents who are struggling with problematic alcohol abuse, drug addiction, or mental health issues.

Best of all, our telemedicine program lets you receive the services and support you need from the privacy, convenience, and safety of your own home.

For a confidential assessment, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.

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