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When considering the top substances of abuse, alcohol, and marijuana top the list. What happens when these substances are abused together? A polysubstance use disorder involving alcohol and marijuana is actually more dangerous than one might think. The first step toward freeing yourself from these substances is to complete a weed and alcohol detox.
About Weed and Alcohol Polysubstance Use Disorder
It may seem like a harmless habit, having a couple of drinks followed by some weed. What’s the harm in that, you might wonder. Like any substance that produces an altered reality, alcohol, and weed are both addictive substances.
Both alcohol and weed initially deliver pleasurable effects. These are both depressants, meaning they slow the central nervous system and cause a relaxing effect. The brain registers these pleasant effects in the reward circuit, which trains the person to seek the substances again.
Both weed and alcohol are easily accessed and inexpensive, which is what drives the high rates of abuse. With this in mind, it is easy to see why people seek out these substances and how abusing them can lead to trouble.
Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Weed
When alcohol and weed are used together, each of these will enhance the effects of the other. It has been found that weed actually changes the way that alcohol affects you. Those subjects that smoked weed fifteen minutes after drinking were less able to drive a car as subjects who only drank alcohol.
When you follow alcohol use with weed, the weed reduces the effects of the alcohol. This can lead the person to drink more to get the buzz they are seeking, and that can result in high blood alcohol levels.
In general, using weed and alcohol together distorts the senses. The higher the THC content in the weed, the more sensory distortion is experienced. This can result in emergency room visits with symptoms of panic attacks, derealization, and detachment from one’s surroundings.
Weed and THC Levels
THC is a psychoactive substance derived from the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis sativa plant. Today’s weed and vaping products contain a much more potent THC content compared to marijuana from twenty years ago. By 2014, THC potency had jumped from 3.8% to 12.3%. Today, certain marijuana extracts and oils used in vape products have THS content above 50%.
The use of high-potency THC products along with alcohol can have a negative impact on mental health and should be avoided. Some of the effects of high-potency weed include:
- Difficulty focusing and paying attention.
- Mood swings.
- Fantasy thoughts.
- Strange speech patterns.
- Trouble expressing thoughts.
- Absence of emotions.
- Paranoid thoughts.
- Irrational fear.
- Withdrawing socially.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Sleep disruptions.
Dangers of Weed and Alcohol Together
Because both weed and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, using them together can put you at risk of injury. This is because as the nervous system slows down the ability to react quickly diminishes and coordination is reduced.
Short-term dangers of weed and alcohol polysubstance abuse include:
- Impaired cognitive functions.
- Sensory distortions.
- Loss of coordination.
- Distorted vision.
- Slowed breathing rate.
- Slowed reflexes.
- Difficulty using judgment and making decisions.
- Reduced inhibitions and increased high-risk behaviors.
- Increased risk of accidental injuries.
- Loss of short-term memory while using the drugs.
- Increased risk of psychosis.
- Increased risk of overdose.
There are also long-term risks associated with weed and alcohol polysubstance abuse. These include risk of addiction, brain damage, memory loss, mental illness, lung and liver damage, cancer, and suicidal ideation.
What to Expect in Weed and Alcohol Detox
When you decide you are ready to quit using substances, you will likely need to start your recovery with weed and alcohol detox. This is the process during which the body rids itself of the toxins left by the alcohol and marijuana.
With an alcohol and weed polysubstance disorder, you must be watched closely during detox because of the alcohol detox unknowns. As the body attempts to stabilize during detox, you will have a variety of symptoms emerge. Marijuana detox is not as much of a concern, but all withdrawal symptoms will be attended to. The goal is to get you through detox with the least amount of discomfort.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sleep disruption, insomnia.
- Increased heart rate.
- Delirium tremens.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Fever and chills.
- Stomach pain or distress.
- Body aches.
- Loss of appetite.
Next Up – Treatment
After you have cleared your system of the two substances, you’ll be ready to fully engage in the treatment program. This is the important piece that teaches you how to overcome both a psychological addiction (weed) and a physical dependence on alcohol. This is the way to unwind habits that fueled the compulsive substance use.
Learning how to live a sober life takes time and the practice of coping techniques you’ll learn in treatment. Each day at rehab you are able to engage in various treatment elements. These help you to change those old patterns and adopt new, healthy ways to respond to triggers.
- Psychotherapy sessions. Two evidence-based therapies, CBT and DBT, can assist you in changing your responses to cravings and triggers. These one-on-one sessions also help you to heal underlying issues that may be factors in the substance abuse.
- Group therapy sessions. Small peer support groups are a good source of social support. A counselor provides topics for the group to discuss and guides these talks.
- Holistic methods. Because stress is a leading cause of relapse, learning how to relax can be very helpful. These methods include deep breathing, mindfulness training, yoga, massage, or meditation.
- 12-step meetings. Many rehabs include the elements of A.A.’s 12-step program, or an non-12-step program. Both options provide group meetings during and after treatment.
- Psychosocial. You will be taught recovery skills, such as coping tools and conflict resolution techniques, to help strengthen recovery.
The Treatment Specialist Provides Guidance for Weed and Alcohol Detox and Treatment
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or someone you care about is grappling with an alcohol and marijuana polysubstance abuse disorder, reach out today. Call us at (866) 644-7911.