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Mixing Alcohol & Weed: Is It Safe & What Are the Risks?

Using alcohol and marijuana together, no matter the amount, isn't smart. The combination intensifies the effects of both drugs, and the mixture could have unpredictable results.

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Mixing alcohol and weed isn’t safe. Risks include dehydration, poor decision-making, and overdose.

Are you or someone you know struggling with addiction?

Alcohol and marijuana both work on the dopamine reward system within your brain, so they both can make you feel calm and happy. Each dose could convince your brain to take another hit.

Crossfading, or using both drugs, may seem safe to you in the moment. Your brain is awash in pleasure. But once you understand the very real risks you face, you may never mix again. 

How Your Cannabis/Marijuana Cocktail Changes Your Body 

Both alcohol and cannabis are dangerous when taken alone. But when you mix them, the risks mount.

THC, an active ingredient inside marijuana, has hallucinogenic properties. People who take the drug can experience the following:

  • Anxiety 
  • Audio distortions
  • Paranoia 
  • Visual distortions

Your liver processes both alcohol and marijuana. Combine the two drugs, and this critical organ must “choose” which toxin to strip from the body first. Research suggests that liver cells focus on alcohol, allowing THC levels to rise.

People who use alcohol and marijuana simultaneously have higher THC levels than people using marijuana alone. This subtle shift could make marijuana’s hallucinogenic impact more severe, leading to a bad trip you just can’t shake.

The problem can persist, as your liver relies on hydration to work properly. Alcohol is a diuretic drug that pulls fluid from your bloodstream and pushes it out of your body through increased urination. Marijuana works in much the same way.

Mixing means added dehydration risks, leading to a longer bad trip.

4 Other Mixing Risks You Should Understand

A marijuana/alcohol cocktail can lead to physical changes, but your behavior can shift too. The problems you face are directly related to the toxic mix you put inside your body.

These are four other known problems associated with crossfading: 

1. Increased Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol hits the brain’s reward centers, so you’re tempted to use more. But researchers say using marijuana seems to intensify that property.

In one study, nearly 35 percent of people who binge drink also use marijuana compared to about 10 percent of nondrinkers.

If marijuana encourages you to drink more, you could develop an alcohol use disorder in time. 

2. Social Consequences

Both alcohol and marijuana can lower your inhibitions and make you act in ways you’d avoid while sober. Mixing the drugs leads to more poor decisions than using just one substance.

People who mix are more likely to do or say something harmful while under the influence when compared to people who just drink. 

3. Driving Drunk

Two in five people who mix admit to driving while under the influence. Reaction times slow, judgment decreases, and you’re much more likely to get in an accident while intoxicated. This is never a smart idea. 

4. Greening Out

People who use too much marijuana report feeling dizzy, nauseated, and anxious. Since alcohol allows THC levels to rise quickly, you’re more apt to green out, or feel sick, when you mix.

Your symptoms could be life-threatening if you vomit while under the influence and get dehydrated. 

Does Mixing Order Matter?

Some people try to trick their bodies by experimenting with their doses. They tell themselves altering their intake will help them reduce the likelihood of a problem. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem true. 

Alcohol First

If alcohol is inside your bloodstream when you use marijuana, your THC levels will rise quicker than if you added alcohol later. You’re more likely to experience a green out, and you’re more likely to have a bad trip you’d rather forget. 

Alcohol Last

With marijuana in your system, your first drink is more rewarding, and you’re likely to have another. People who mix often also drink more alcohol than people who don’t. If you take substances in this pattern, you’re likely to keep drinking even when you should stop. 

Can You Overdose on an Alcohol/Weed Mix?

People who drink alcohol face very real overdose dangers. Unfortunately, adding marijuana to the mix can make the problem worse.

Alcohol’s depressant qualities can make you feel sleepy and sedated. Your breathing slows, and your body temperature drops. If your brain senses that you’re sliding into danger, it will trigger a vomit reflex to save your life.

Marijuana is an antiemetic drug that blocks your body’s ability to vomit. When you can’t expel the toxin that is slowing your body down, you can dip into a coma and die. This risk is present in anyone who drinks a lot of alcohol, but it’s even more acute in people who mix substances. 

Lower Your Risks

There is no safe amount of alcohol and marijuana to mix, and no intake scheme will keep you safer.

Instead, never take in these substances at the same time. Better yet, limit your intake of either substance even when taken individually.

Both alcohol and marijuana have addictive qualities, so it can be hard to cut back or quit. Treatment can help.

Care teams can help you remove active molecules from your bloodstream and help you sober up safely. Then, in a treatment program, you can learn how to avoid relapse cues and live a sober life. If you can’t quit alone, you can with help.

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated February 7, 2024
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