Crossfading: What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Cannabis?
A fun night out has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it’s smoking cannabis, yet for others, it’s drinking alcohol. But what about being drunk and high simultaneously? Mixing these two substances is not unheard of, and it has its own term — crossfading. Although the term can also describe mixing any other substances, it most often refers to using alcohol and cannabis together to get drunk and high at the same time.
Because many U.S. states have already legalized recreational marijuana use, and now 44% of the U.S. population can consume weed just for fun, the likelihood of more people crossfading these two substances has also increased. In addition, products like Delta 8 THC, THC-O, and HHC are federally legal, though their legality varies by state, increasing Americans’ access to cannabis products significantly.
Although alcohol and cannabis work differently, they have the same target – the reward system in the brain. Both substances increase dopamine release in the brain, producing euphoric feelings. Does mixing these two mean a more pleasurable experience? Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. If you wonder whether combining these two is safe, it depends on numerous factors, depending on the dosage, frequency of crossfading, and most importantly, in what order you use these two substances.
Drinking Alcohol Before Consuming THC
Ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, increases THC absorption in humans — the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Therefore, drinking alcohol before smoking weed will amplify the latter’s effects. Although it means a more potent high, it doesn’t always mean a better high.
The outcomes this duo will drive will also depend on the potency of the cannabis strain (% of THC). However, the amount of alcohol you consume will not significantly change the outcomes – according to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), “Any dose of alcohol combined with cannabis significantly increases levels of THC in blood.”
For some, the combination may result in a pleasurable experience, but others may experience green out — a set of unpleasant physical and cognitive symptoms which include:
- And sometimes panic due to experiencing the above-listed symptoms.
Which cannabinoid you use can also influence your reaction. For example, Delta 8 THC is less likely to cause these side effects. That’s because it is less psychoactive than Delta 9 THC.
Be Aware of Possible Unwanted Symptoms
Consuming alcohol before cannabis can boost the effects of THC. It may sound like a massive advantage of the combo for seasoned consumers, but if you are sensitive to marijuana or have yet to try crossfading, proceed with caution and limit the dosage of cannabis you consume after drinking alcohol. Because alcohol increases THC absorption, you should consume less cannabis after drinking alcohol to get the same results you usually experience with cannabis.
Consuming THC Before Drinking Alcohol
The research around the effects of using THC before alcohol is limited. One study in 1992 showed that cannabis might slow down the rise of blood alcohol levels. Although it may sound like a good thing, it’s not exactly the case. If cannabis slows down blood alcohol levels, it can reduce or delay the sensation of being drunk, leading to increased alcohol consumption.
If the study findings are accurate, consuming cannabis before drinking alcohol may increase the likelihood of alcohol poisoning – which can cause serious health problems, including death.
Although it might sound like a fun party, crossfading may lead to unwanted severe consequences and symptoms.
National Alcohol Survey found that frequent crossfading of alcohol and cannabis increased the quantity and frequency of alcohol use. Crossfading also resulted in more severe outcomes than drinking only alcohol. For example, crossfading nearly doubled the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and self-harm.
The study also found those who used both alcohol and cannabis were more likely to drive unsafely than those who used these substances separately. In addition, those who crossfaded alcohol and marijuana were more likely to do so in a bar or party context, increasing the odds of them having to drive somewhere afterward.
One of the most significant risks of using cannabis and alcohol simultaneously is the increased degree of impairment than using either substance separately. When you crossfade alcohol and cannabis, you increase the chances of “greening out,” which comes with many unwanted symptoms.
Even though people might want to combine alcohol and cannabis for enhanced pleasure or experience a more intense high, it can cause severe unwanted consequences and increase the likelihood of experiencing both substances’ side effects.
Greater Degree of Altered Judgement
Alcohol and THC can cause altered judgment. When combined, these effects can intensify and lead to increased chances of engaging in risky behaviors, making snap judgments, and even the likelihood of having unprotected sex.
Increased Alcohol Consumption
As mentioned above, if THC consumption precedes alcohol consumption, it might delay feeling drunk, leading to higher alcohol consumption and increased risk of alcohol poisoning.
A 2017 review suggests that people who crossfade alcohol and THC consume more of both drugs than what they would consume separately. This increased consumption of these two substances may increase the risk of developing dependence on either substances or both together. In addition, a 2019 study published in Substance Use & Misuse found that college students who frequently crossfaded had an increased risk for heavier drug use.
Decreased cognitive function
A study from 2011 studied the effects of cognitive function of heavy marijuana users who had consumed alcohol.
Alcohol alone had a more significant impact on cognitive functioning than THC, but these two substances were more detrimental than alcohol when combined. Although long-term use of alcohol and THC needs to be further investigated, combining these two will likely help negatively impact cognitive functioning in the long run.
Alcohol can cause dehydration by promoting urine production. Although there is no evidence THC has any similar effect, because you’ll be more likely to consume more alcohol when crossfading, you will be at higher risk of being dehydrated. As a result, you will lose more fluid than you take in and experience symptoms such as dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue. Therefore, always remember to drink enough water every time you drink alcohol, especially after consuming THC.
Mixing alcohol and THC might sound harmless, but by doing so, you take the risk of experiencing various unwanted consequences and side effects, that in the long term, can affect every aspect of your life, including health, relationships, or job performance.
If you still want to combine these two and experience effects of both substances simultaneously, choose strains with low THC levels, and control how much of each substance you consume, especially if it’s your first-time crossfading.