All About Addiction

Crossfading combines alcohol and marijuana to create a dangerous high that can reinforce addictive behaviours in the user. Learn how this toxic duo affects the body and mind.

Crossfading; The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana


  • Crossfading combines alcohol and marijuana to create a dangerous high that can be life-threatening.
  • New studies reveal the dangers of crossfading, the toxic mix of alcohol and marijuana.

Crossfading, or using alcohol and marijuana simultaneously, is a popular way to achieve a new kind of “high”. Its popularity, however, can overshadow its inherent dangers. Alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly used substances after nicotine, and those that use them regularly are increasingly likely to use them together. 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. Each substance is potent in their own right but when taken in tandem, the effects of each are magnified. The mix can result in a terrifying experience of being too high too fast or even blacking out.

Combining alcohol and marijuana significantly alters the brain. One area it targets is the region responsible for decision making, and some bad decisions can result. Research has found that people who crossfade are:

  • Six times more likely to binge drink
  • Twice as likely to drive drunk

Three times more likely to have social issues that can affect their relationships and careers

The Toxic Combination of Alcohol and Marijuana

We all know that alcohol makes you drunk and weed makes you high, but what happens when they meet? Both substances alter your mental state. Alcohol is a depressant which slows the central nervous system. It makes it difficult to think clearly and affects coordination. Marijuana affects the cognitive abilities of the brain, producing feelings of disorientation and distortion of time. The main components of each; THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana and ethanol in alcohol, form a toxic duo.

Think You May Have an Addiction

If you have a drink and then smoke a joint, the alcohol in your system can double the THC level in the blood. Alcohol also opens up blood vessels in the digestive system which helps to quickly absorb the THC. High levels of THC then rush into the body and can send it into overload because it is overdosing on marijuana. This is referred to as “greening out”, a feeling of nausea, distress and acute anxiety or terror. Other symptoms can include:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Delayed or Slow Speech
  • Fainting
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations

On the flip side, smoking marijuana and then drinking alcohol can be life-threatening. If you are high and then consume alcohol, another scenario takes place. Marijuana decreases the alcohol level in the blood so you may drink more or excessively to achieve the same desired effect. Alcohol is a poison to the body and when ingested in large amounts, the body’s defense is to vomit. But if you are high, this may not be possible. Marijuana possesses an anti-emetic quality which suppresses the body’s ability to vomit. It is for this reason that it is prescribed to cancer patients to combat the nauseating effects of chemotherapy. Having THC in the system can block the body’s ability to rid itself of alcohol which can result in alcohol poisoning or choking on vomit that is lodged in the throat.


A major risk in combining alcohol and marijuana is the tendency to overdose on both. One may be accustomed to taking a certain amount of marijuana or having a few drinks but unprepared for how they will react to each other. Even when small or normal doses of each are taken, the combined result can be more intense and severe than intended. Users can become much more intoxicated then they had planned and can experience memory lapses or unconsciousness. In addition, using them together reinforces addictive behaviors in the user and a dependency can easily develop.

Other Dangers of Crossfading

Fatal Car Accidents

Unfortunately, crossfading has also found its way to our roadways. The most frequently detected drug combination in car accidents today is marijuana plus alcohol. Both impair the motor skills necessary for safe driving and having either THC or ethanol in the system nearly doubles a driver’s risk of having an accident. When a driver is crossfaded and under the influence of both, the accident risk is increased fivefold. Studies have found that while a person’s driving ability was moderately impaired by marijuana alone, it was severely impaired by marijuana mixed with alcohol. New national traffic studies show that 30% of fatal car crashes in Australia are due to drink driving.

Memory Loss

Another negative effect of crossfading is its impact on memory. Alcohol has the ability to make you black out and forget large spaces of time. It can also alter the brain’s ability to process knowledge. With marijuana, new studies show that THC alters the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls memory. When these two substances are used together, they can have a serious impact on the brains ability to store memory, resulting in memory loss and learning difficulties. It is especially troubling when crossfading occurs in adolescence or early adulthood. During this time the brain is still forming and alterations to the activity of a growing brain can produce damage that is irreversible.

Help is Here

Recovery from poly-drug abuse is a complex process, therefore it is recommended that detox and treatment occur in a professional inpatient treatment centre. The Cabin Addiction Services Group is recognized around the world as a leader in addiction research and treatment standards. The detox stage for poly-drug abuse is individualized to accommodate each drug used, longevity of use, personal behaviors and history. A client will be continually monitored and specific drugs may be administered to alleviate discomfort and aid healing.

The second stage of treatment offers a holistic approach to heal body and mind for lasting recovery. We utilize a version of the 12-Step philosophy that underpins the abstinence model. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is practiced to treat light trauma at its core while meditation and exercise calm the body and mind. Our highly trained experts also incorporate counseling and therapy modalities to help you reclaim your life.
Contact us and take the first step towards healing today.

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