Some people like to relax and unwind with a glass of wine or a beer, and in and of itself, this is generally harmless. However, some people may misuse alcohol, or even combine alcohol with other substances, which has the potential to be dangerous. Sometimes, people may mix alcohol with weed, thinking that this practice is harmless. Unfortunately, combining these two substances can have negative effects. Learn about the dangers of mixing alcohol and weed below. If you’re seeking treatment, you can also find information about drug rehab and medication assisted treatment for alcohol use.
Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Weed
To understand the effects of smoking weed and drinking together, it’s important to know about the impact of each of these substances on the brain and the body as a whole. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, because it increases levels of a brain chemical called GABA, which slows activity in the nervous system. As a depressant, alcohol has a relaxing effect on the body, but when used in high doses, it can significantly impact behavior and brain functioning, leading to mood changes and lack of coordination.
On the other hand, the main ingredient in marijuana is THC, which activates specific areas on nerve cells called cannabinoids. When activated, cannabinoids influence areas of the brain linked to pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, perception, and coordination. When people use marijuana, they experience distorted perceptions, problems with learning, memory, and problem-solving, and poor coordination.
Research suggests that combining alcohol with weed increases THC absorption, meaning that using the two together can intensify the effects of marijuana. Over the short-term, this can mean impaired coordination, memory problems, altered perceptions, and difficulty with thinking and problem-solving.
Over the long-term, mixing alcohol and weed can come with significant consequences. Studies show that using the two together is linked to more frequent use of both substances, as well as increased risk of behavioral problems like driving while under the influence. Mixing weed and alcohol also increases the likelihood that a person will develop co-occurring addiction and mental health problems.
Using weed and alcohol together is linked to poor psychological functioning. Beyond increased risk of mental health problems, people who use these substances in combination are less likely to graduate college, more likely to be unemployed, and at increased risk of poor mental health. Mental health problems like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and lack of motivation can accompany ongoing alcohol and marijuana use.