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Common Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana

Cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, is often one of the drugs used in poly-drug abuse, as it is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in the United States. Individuals who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol usually take both substances to increase the desired effect of the first drug taken or to increase the rate of intoxication. Poly-drug use can increase the risk for contracting physical and mental illnesses.

Effects of Combining These Drugs

Marijuana is considered a psychoactive drug that induces psychological effects when consumed. Marijuana is a popular drug among poly-drug users because it can induce a mix of symptoms exhibited by sedative and stimulant drug abusers. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Loss or decreased of coordination
  • Increased appetite
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Breathing problems
  • Anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Red, bloodshot eyes

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant of the central nervous system and shares some of the side effects from marijuana use. Many people are already alcoholics when they first try the drug.

According to a study conducted by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center (NCPIC) conducted in Australia, the most common type of poly-drug mix is marijuana and alcohol. A person addicted to both can experience the same symptoms, but to a wholly unpredicted level. This may be due to the psychedelic properties of marijuana, which can affect the mind in different ways. These psychedelic effects may be heightened with the sedative effect of alcohol. This, in turn, can increase the risk for psychological problems and psychotic symptoms.

NCPIC also reported that alcohol can increase the rate of absorption of THC, the primary active component of cannabis, or marijuana. Taking alcohol with marijuana can strengthen the effect of the latter and cause a condition referred to as “greening out.” This is a term used to describe when marijuana users experience nausea or sickness after smoking weed. People addicted to marijuana and alcohol may feel dizzy, go pale, become sweaty, start vomiting, or feel the need to lie down immediately.

What are the Consequences?

“Addiction to marijuana and alcohol can cause withdrawal symptoms that are more severe…”
Both drugs have also been known to be contributing factors in fatal car accidents and many drivers involved in accidents tested positive to both alcohol and marijuana in blood tests. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), marijuana is the most prevalent illicit drug involved in incidents of driving under influence in recent years.

The combination of marijuana and alcohol is dangerous even in low doses. Long-term abuse or addiction to marijuana and alcohol can cause withdrawal symptoms that are more severe when compared to withdrawing from just alcohol or marijuana alone.

Getting Treatment and Recovery

outpatient treatment center Depending on the extent of abuse, a person addicted to marijuana and alcohol may choose to enter an inpatient or outpatient detox and rehab facility. Alcohol and marijuana withdrawal require different treatment procedures and should be treated accordingly. Entering a rehab center can address both the addictions and the medical and physical conditions of the patient. Other types of treatment that are available for both alcohol and marijuana withdrawal include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational incentives. Currently, there is no approved medication for marijuana withdrawal, while some medications, like benzodiazepines, are prescribed for the treatment and control of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

If you are addicted to marijuana and alcohol, you may not know how to stop or are delaying treatment because you fear experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You should immediately speak with a specialist prior to the treatment to ensure that you or your loved ones understand the treatment process and various recovery options available. Call and talk to a specialist to find out more about this type of addiction and the various treatment options available.


  • Marijuana or weed smoking is becoming more popular than cigarette smoking. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey of University of Michigan, in 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors smoked weed in the past 30 days, while only 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.
  • Marijuana users are more prone to memory lapses and impaired thinking. Heavy usage of marijuana can cause irreversible loss of intellectual capacity.

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