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weed and alcohol cheers

Alcohol and weed are the two most commonly abused substances around the world. They are also commonly used together.

If you are smoking weed and drinking at the same time, there are some dangers that you are perhaps not aware of.

In this article we look at the effects of mixing alcohol and weed together and advise of the associated dangers.

Hopefully, if you have a problem with these two substances (or either one) this will enable you to make an informed decision as to what steps to take to get the correct help and support.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol and cannabis (in any form) please call and speak to a member of our Delamere team for immediate and confidential, expert addiction advice.

Why is mixing weed and alcohol bad?

Both weed and alcohol are depressant drugs. Their effects suppress, impair and inhibit the brain’s ability to function as it should. When alcohol and weed are mixed together, the effects of each individual substance become exaggerated. This can result in a person losing control of their actions and even overdosing.

Drinking alcohol before smoking weed can ramp up the effects of cannabis’s active ingredient THC. Alcohol’s active ingredient ethanol and cannabis’s active ingredient THC both work on the same parts of the brain that affect our :

  • Self control
  • Decision making
  • Judgment
  • Reflexes
  • Movement
  • Perception of time
  • Emotions
  • Inhibitions
  • Senses
  • Sexual desire and function

Weed and alcohol can both distort the way we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. The more alcohol and cannabis consumed the more distorted our senses become.

The brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for processing information received from our senses, is also greatly affected by cannabis and alcohol’s effects. This can lead to thoughts being produced based on distorted information from our surroundings; this is never a good thing!
The dangers of mixing alcohol and cannabis

Cannabis comes in various forms and strengths of THC. The higher the THC content the more pronounced the effects of the drug. The same applies to alcohol with a higher ethanol content.

Someone who frequently mixes marijuana and alcohol together will be less sensitive to the drugs’ combined effects than an occasional or first time user. Nevertheless, using both drugs frequently together comes with its own set of associated risks and dangers.

Short term dangers of mixing alcohol and weed include:

  • Distorted perception of time
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Impaired movement including fine motor skills
  • Poor judgement
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slowed breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to make important decisions
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Poor coordination
  • Distorted vision
  • Short term memory loss whilst under the influence
  • Increased likelihood of accidents and injury
  • Increased risk of being sexually assaulted or violently attacked
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, infections and unwanted pregnancies. Reduced inhibitions, poor judgement and decision making combined with increased sexual desire
  • can lead to poor sexual choices and consequences (1)
  • Increased likelihood of hallucinations (audio or visual)
  • Increased likelihood of paranoia
  • Increased likelihood of overdose and respiratory depression
  • Increased likelihood of having a bad experience (anxiety, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting and paranoia)

The long term dangers of mixing weed and alcohol include:

  • Tolerance to both cannabis and alcohol – The need for increasing amounts of each substance. (1)
  • Dependence to both cannabis and alcohol – Resulting in cannabis and alcohol withdrawal if enough is not consumed (1)
  • Addiction to both cannabis and alcohol – A life threatening brain disease that cannot be cured (1)
  • Damage to brain and organs caused by excessive alcohol consumption (1)
  • Serious mental health illnesses including anxiety, depression and psychosis
  • Damage to brain through excessive exposure to THC and alcohol
  • Damage to organs including the liver caused by excessive exposure to alcohol
  • Damage to lungs (if smoking weed with tobacco)
  • Risk of developing several types of cancer associated with alcohol
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Short term and long term memory loss
  • Suicidal ideation

Mixing cannabis and alcohol frequently over a prolonged period of time can result in damage to the brain and body that cannot be reversed through stopping either or both substances.

Struggling with an alcohol addiction? Talk to us today

Mixing alcohol, weed, and your mental health

Both Alcohol and weed are known to have a negative impact on mental health when used excessively. What is safe for one person could potentially trigger a lifelong mental health illness in another.

Genetics, environmental, social, upbringing and biological factors all dictate how you will react as an individual to a substance.

Those with previous mental health history, teenagers and those with mental health or addiction in the family will be more prone to experiencing the dark side of both of these drugs.

By combining cannabis and alcohol together on a frequent basis there is an increased likelihood of developing a serious mental health illness.

It is common for someone who drinks whilst smoking weed and suffering from mental health to not attribute the substances as the cause. They are likely to use even more alcohol and weed to self-medicate; unintentionally worsening their symptoms.

Most mental health illnesses improve with the cessation of weed and alcohol, but for a minority they will experience mental health symptoms for the rest of their life.

It is important when treating any substance abuse problem that any residual mental health problems are comprehensively and appropriately treated. If they are not, there is a very high risk of the Individual returning to substance abuse.

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Treating weed and alcohol addiction

In order for treatment for addiction to mixing alcohol and weed to be successful, both addictions will need to be treated simultaneously and comprehensively.

Stopping alcohol where there is a dependence can not only be dangerous but can become life threatening. Stopping cannabis or weed where there is a dependence is not life threatening unless psychosis is present. This does not mean that it isn’t challenging. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and difficult to tolerate.

Where more than one addiction is present, residential treatment is often the best course of action, especially where there is a dependence on one or more substances.

The first step in recovery from a cannabis and alcohol addiction will be to stop both substances safely. A medical detox is clinically recommended as the safest way of achieving this.

Following detoxification from alcohol and weed a bespoke rehabilitation programme is strongly advocated. The programme should include professional treatment for any dual diagnosis illnesses, underlying trauma, current issues, past issues, behavioural problems and also show the individual how to healthily manage emotions and prevent relapse. Ongoing support (and medical/therapeutic treatment where needed) is advised for the best long term outcome.

How to stop mixing weed and alcohol the Delamere way

Here at Delamere’s addiction treatment and behavioural wellness facility we treat all addictions and mental health illnesses comprehensively and simultaneously.

Our private and purpose built treatment facility offers first class treatment and accommodation to anyone suffering from addiction.

We specialise in treating all kinds of substance abuse, substance addictions and behavioural addictions, and are fortunate to have acquired some of the UK’s most distinguished addiction treatment professionals to help us with our cause.

All of our treatment programmes involve a full medical detox (where required) and a bespoke programme of innovative and evidence based addiction treatments. We also provide a unique personalised transition programme to assist each of our guests in crossing the bridge from inpatient treatment into daily recovery in the community.

If you or a loved one have a problem with mixing alcohol and cannabis and want help, please call and speak in confidence with a member of our team today.

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  1. Simultaneous use of alcohol and marajuana: Patterns and individual differences NIH