When it comes to getting intoxicated, two of the most commonly used substances are alcohol and marijuana. Both provide a pleasurable buzz that comes with an immediate mood boost. How mind-blowing can it be if they team up? Tokers are in for a wicked high for sure, but the experience can quickly become stupefying and regrettable.

The outcome of combining weed and booze is known as a “crossfade.” While some cannabis users may not be familiar with the term, the act itself is not uncommon. People have been seeking out its astonishing, buzzed out effects even though much of the science behind it remains unexplored. If you’re thinking of crossfading, we have everything there is to know so far.

What is a Crossfaded High?

Both alcohol and cannabis have an abundance of scientifically-backed studies that delve into their short- and long-term effects. However, there is a lack of research on what happens to the mind and body when these two intoxicating substances are combined. Many simply assume that since getting high is fun and getting drunk is fun, then mixing these two leisure activities should be doubly fun. Alas, it is much, much more complicated than one plus one is two as effects depend on various factors and tend to vary per person.

Scott E. Lukas, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, has conducted experiments to shed light on crossfading. One studied how consuming marijuana affects the absorption of alcohol, while the other tested how drinking alcohol influences the absorption of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Man smoke while drinking alcohol
A man smoking a fat blunt and drinking alcohol at the same time

Lukas found that “Marijuana does a unique thing to your small intestine that alters the motility (the way things move through your intestines) of your GI tract in such a way that it causes your blood alcohol levels to actually be lower than…if you had just consumed alcohol by itself.”

In reverse, Lukas observed that drinking alcohol first has the opposite effect on THC. It opens up blood vessels in the digestive system, helping in the absorption of more THC. Proven by immense THC levels in the research participants’ plasma, it intensifies the cannabis high at an even faster rate, as confirmed by another study conducted in 2015.

Besides combining the influences of the two substances and increasing the levels of intoxication, tokers crossfade to intensify the therapeutic effects of cannabis. It can also just be due to recklessness or the inability to think rationally while under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana.

In the U.S., statistics show that people who indulge in either marijuana or alcohol are nearly twice as likely to combine them than to enjoy each separately. It is so prevalent that, sadly, alcohol consumption with weed accounts for more vehicular accidents than any other blend of substances.

How Long Does It Last?

Much like typical cannabis consumption, the duration of a crossfaded high depends mostly on the amount and potency of the substances in your system. A small drag from a one-hitter-quitter could shoot you up the stratosphere, but the effects would dissipate faster than if you finished an entire fat blunt.

Common Adverse Effects And Causes

Alcohol and cannabis have opposite effects on the mind and body, so consumers tend to experience undesirable effects when the two substances mingle.

A central nervous system depressant, alcohol impacts the brain and body communication, which results in decreased motor functions. On the other hand, cannabis influences the brain, producing cognitive effects. In high dosages, it can lead to lightheadedness, paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations.

marijuana for anxiety
A worried woman holding her head

As mentioned, alcohol consumption before smoking cannabis increases the absorption rate of THC. That means crossfading will have consumers experiencing double the impact of the herb, and it can go far, far beyond feeling slightly spacey. Consumers are at a much greater risk of incurring severe injury, as simultaneously getting high and drunk impair cognitive and physical functions. Apart from the danger, these side effects are also prevalent when you overload with both substances at the same time:

  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

How to Manage a Crossfaded High?

It’s best to avoid crossfading altogether, just choose one substance and stick with it. Combining the two could produce effects that may be way too powerful to relieve, ruining what could be fun booze-ups or smoke-outs. Plus, the crossfading experience is often far less enjoyable than consumers may have expected.

Smoking weed drinking beer
A man smoke weed and holding a bottle of beer

There’s a fine line between a manageable crossfade and what’s too much. In case the temptation gets the best of you, what do you do once you’ve become crossfaded and you find it rather unpleasant? The only true way to get over this kind of high to wait it out, but you can also try these helpful tips to make the come down a bit better:

  • First and foremost, refrain from taking more alcohol or marijuana.
  • Stay calm to prevent anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia.
  • Find a comfortable spot in a dark, quiet, and safe place where you can repose and relax.
  • Try to sleep off the dizziness or disorientation. Closing your eyes may increase the spins, making it almost impossible to rest, but your body will eventually settle down as the crossfade
  • wanes over time. Once this happens, you can close those peepers of yours and let your dreams take you away.
  • Drink water — one glass per alcoholic beverage — to reduce your blood alcohol content/concentration (BAC). It reduces the length of your intoxication and helps with dehydration caused by both weed and alcohol.
  • Eating some snacks also help crossfaded people feel calmer. It removes the focus on unpleasant sensations, steering their attention to food and the act of eating it instead.
  • Find and stay in a cool place as the alcohol will make your body overheat, which, by the way, is what makes you throw up. Some lie down on a hopefully clean kitchen floor or even stick their head in the freezer to lower the body temperature fast, but you can also just chill in an air-conditioned room or anywhere cool enough.
  • Talk to a friend to help calm anxious thoughts and keep your mind off of the uncomfortable situation.

Note:  In case of an emergency, we would recommend calling your doctor or an ambulance. Also do not drive or operate any machinery.

To Crossfade or Not to Crossfade

While crossfading may sound exciting and fun, we strongly advise against combining alcohol and cannabis. This exhilarating “idea” can swiftly go downhill, potentially exposing you to side effects brought about by blending two substances that are not supposed to go together. The high can be doubly strong, but the adverse effects are likely to be just as robust, if not more. If you’ve already gone down with a bad trip or been dead-drunk, then you know how bad it can get. Now combine both unwanted occurrences and increase their intensity, that’s what you might get when a crossfade goes south.

Pipe And Alcohol
Smoking pipe and bottle of alcohol

We would love to know your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comments. Is crossfading worth the risk or not? Any tried and tested tricks for avoiding its dreaded side effects? Let’s talk about it down below!