Ending Addiction for Good

The Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Marijuana

Using pot and alcohol together can lead to injury, illness, even death.

Alcohol and marijuana are two drugs commonly used by people at the same time. New information indicates that combining the two may cause individuals to over-use both substances and in some cases, can result in death.

The danger of drinking before smoking is severe illness. A side effect of smoking marijuana, called “greening out”, is more likely to occur if a person drinks alcohol before smoking.

Greening out is a term used to describe a situation where a person may feel sick after smoking marijuana. The individuals may go pale and sweaty, feel dizzy with “the spins,” nauseous, and may even start vomiting. This is often followed by the need or strong desire to lie down.

Smoking marijuana and then drinking alcohol can lead to death. When recreational drinking and smoking are combined, it is easier to drink excessively and risk alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.    

According to Northeastern University, marijuana has an antiemetic effect, meaning that it makes it more difficult for the body to vomit.

Usually, when a person drinks too much alcohol, the body responds by vomiting in order to rid itself of the excess alcohol. Since marijuana helps prevent vomiting, the body may be unable to rid itself of dangerous toxins or an individual may choke on the vomit that is produced.

Used together, alcohol and marijuana can also cause paranoia, causing people to make flawed or even fatal choices. Alcohol and marijuana are both depressants, which work by slowing down the central nervous system. An ingredient of marijuana is THC that is absorbed into the blood faster when alcohol is also present. Magnified effects of using these substances together can be very unpredictable and cause panic, anxiety, or terror to occur in people who use both substances in the same period.

Little research has been done on combining alcohol and marijuana, but indications are that there can be major risks. No matter what substances you are using, please consult a physician before combining them and please, always use substances responsibly.

Constance Scharff, Ph.D. is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center.

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