(647) 835-4212 admin@socomedical.com
Effects of Drinking & Smoking Weed

Effects of Drinking & Smoking Weed

Poly-drug use is considered to be the use of two or more drugs (often psychoactive) at one time. The reason why people often use a combination of drugs is to either increase the effects of the primary drug taken, or to increase overall intoxication.

Often poly-drug use takes place when an individual is already intoxicated and not making rational decisions. According to the “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute” of the University of Washington, not counting tobacco, the most most common form of poly-drug use is alcohol and marijuana.1

On the streets, this act is known as “getting crunk” or “cross-fading”. The issue is, the effects of either drug, especially in combination, may be more powerful than anyone can anticipate and can be highly dangerous!

As we have underlined in our previous articles, depending on your biochemistry at the moment (as it fluctuates depending on what you eat, hydration, stress levels, exhaustion etc), the effects of either drug may be more powerful, and the combination may produce different and unpredictable reactions. 1

kermit-1653827_960_720Evidence from several research projects indicate that having alcohol in your blood system causes for the faster absorption of THC (a cannabinoid which for some causes unwanted psychoactive or sedative effects). 1 This can result in having an individual “green out” – something that has been noted to happen more often when one consumes alcohol prior to consuming marijuana, rather than the other way around.

Although “greening out” is not life-threatening, nor has anyone died from it, the effect of over-consuming alcohol beyond an individual tolerance- alcohol poisoning – has killed people.

“According to Northeastern University, marijuana has an antiemetic effect, meaning that it makes it more difficult for the body to vomit. Normally this side effect is non-consequential, and it can even be beneficial in cancer patients who use medical marijuana because they have trouble keeping food down. However, in the case of alcohol poisoning, vomiting is the body’s way of expelling the excess alcohol. If a person is unable to properly vomit, they are more likely to choke on their vomit or succumb to the effects of alcohol poisoning.”2

Scott Lukas, a professor at Harvard Medical School, investigated what happens in the brain when “cross-faded”.3 THC and alcohol are two psychoactive substances; THC acts on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and cognitive effects, while Alcohol depresses the nervous system in a different way, often resulting in a decrease in motor-skills (ex. walking in a straight line). 3 4 With the complex individuality of one’s neurochemistry, Lukas found that not only did the two drug effects individuals differently each time, but in some instances, the effects of each substance were amplified to “unreasonable” amounts. In his study, those that smoked a joint and drank three shots of alcohol had 2x the amount of THC in their bloodstream vs. those who smoked a joint and didn’t have three shots. 3

What is interesting is that it is not clear yet WHY this happens. We at SoCo hypothesize that this is due to THC traveling to the brain a lot faster, via the bloodstream. Since  alcohol is a vasodilator, this changes how quickly blood vessels in your lunges absorb inhaled THC.

Common Effects of Mixing Marijuana and Alcohol:  1 2 3 4 5

  • nausea and/or vomitingmadness-1608707_960_720
  • increased heart rate
  • increase in anxiety, paranoia and panic
  • difficulty breathing
  • sudden headache
  • extreme vertigo , “the spins”
  • sensory/motor skill deprivation (Ex.impaired seeing, hearing)
  • twitching, muscular lethargy and/or spasm (this can result in cramping/ pain)

Health & Saftey Risks: 1 2 3 4 5

  • Impaired judgement and the sudden decrease in environmental awareness and control of surroundings
    •  Note: this places an individual at a greater risk of making improper and unsafe decisions. Reports have included the loss or stealing of belongings, negotiation of safe and consensual sex, and increase in injury due to falling
  • Greater impairment of hand eye coordination
    • Note: the negative effects of driving while intoxicated is well documented. Marijuana has been noted to cause a reduction in concentration and reaction time. This further adds to impaired driving and puts the individual and anyone else on the road/in the car at risk
  • Those who are vulnerable to psychotic symptoms have an increased chance of exacerbating such.
    • Note: increased anger and agitation leads to fights, a manic stage can lead to actions where zero consequences are considered, hallucinations can take place when psychosis is present etc.
  • One should consider  that an individual may be turning towards poly-drug use to achieve intoxication, due to an underlining addiction, improper coping of a mental illness or personal crisis.

 

It is important to be mindful of your choices, those of others around you, and promote safety and wellness.

 

DUIs & Driving

In 2008, leading experts released data on the different effects of drugs on driving, summarizing the scientific evidence from the viewpoints of physicians, psychiatrists and pharmacists. In their publication “Drugs, Driving & Traffic Saftey”, they declare that their studies are inconclusive as to how much THC is responsible for impaired driving crashes, vs. drunk driving. 5  While “ethanol (alcohol) is clearly the most significant substance used by drivers”, people who were involved in motor vehicle accidents (accident-297191_960_720MVA), tested positive 50-80% of the time for both alcohol and THC. 5  Therefore, it is the conclusion of this research that “the combination of THC and alcohol poses a bigger risk potential than those of either drug alone.” 5

For Future Sake:

In Colorado (U.S.A), state patrol data shows that the total DUI citations, in 2016 thus far, has rose to 398, compared with 316 for the same period in 2015.6 Many people were pulled over for having bloodshot eyes and/or smelling of marijuana. Even though some proclaimed to not be high (and were not at the time “stoned”), the state blood test were often positive for THC. 6 The issue here is that THC is stored in your fat and is not water soluble like ethanol. A THC positive blood test does NOT , nor is it enough evidence, to charge someone with a DUI.

The state has concluded that measuring a person’s THC level is actually a poor indicator for intoxication, yet they have imposed this ideology that a 5 nanogram of THC per millilitre of blood is “intoxication”. 6

Unlike alcohol, which has a generally linear relationship between the amount of alcohol you consume, your breath alcohol content and driving performance, the THC route of metabolism is very different,” says Thomas Marcotte, co-director of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego. 6  

Hence why adapting drunk driving laws to marijuana makes for bad policy. 

There should, ideally, be a ZERO drinking and driving policy. Even if they invented a nanogram detector for breathalyzers tomorrow, which could indicate both THC & alcohol content, it all comes down to the individual at hand: their BMI, what their bio-chemistry is at the moment, and of course the eligibility of documentations for prescriptions and permits.

What we can say here is: it is never a good idea to drink and drive, nor “crunk” and drive. If you find that marijuana is causing unwanted psychoactive or sedative effects, do not handle any sort of heavy machinery and be mindful, safe and calm.

 


1.
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute U of W. Alcohol and Marijuana. learnaboutmarijuanawa.org. http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/alcohol.htm. Published June 2013. Accessed October 17, 2016.
2.
Dovey D. Drunk And High: Science Explains Some Of The Side Effects That Come From Mixing Alcohol And Marijuana. Medical Daily. http://www.medicaldaily.com/drunk-and-high-science-explains-some-side-effects-come-mixing-alcohol-and-marijuana-278486. Published April 23, 2014. Accessed October 17, 2016.
3.
PUIU T. What happens inside your brain when you mix marijuana and alcohol. ZME Science. http://www.zmescience.com/science/mixing-pot-and-alcohol-brain-423432/. Published September 1, 2014. Accessed October 15, 2016.
4.
Scharff Ph. D. C. The Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Marijuana. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201405/the-dangers-combining-alcohol-and-marijuana. Published May 6, 2014. Accessed October 18, 2016.
5.
Verster J, Pandi-Perumal SR, Ramaekers JG, de Gier JJ, eds. Drugs, Driving and Traffic Safety. Vol 2. Berlin, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media; 2009.
6.
Will legal marijuana mean more stoned drivers? Whittier Daily News & Partnership w/ Colorado Public Radio, KPCC, NPR and Kaiser Health News. http://www.whittierdailynews.com/general-news/20161008/will-legal-marijuana-mean-more-stoned-drivers. Published October 8, 2016. Accessed October 18, 2016.
“Greening Out” & What To Do?

“Greening Out” & What To Do?

According to Health Canada, the primary adverse side effects of Cannabis/Marihuana/Marijuana are1:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, feeling faint or lightheaded, fatigue, headache;
  •  impaired memory and disturbances in attention, concentration and ability to think and make decisions;
  • disorientation, confusion, feeling drunk, feeling abnormal or having abnormal thoughts, feeling “too high”, feelings of unreality, feeling an extreme slowing of time;
  • suspiciousness, nervousness, episodes of anxiety resembling a panic attack, paranoia (loss of contact with reality), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist);
  • impairments in motor skills and perception, altered bodily perceptions, loss of full control of bodily movements, falls;
  • dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing;
  • worsening of seizures;
  • hypersensitivity reactions (contact dermatitis/hives);
  • higher or lower blood levels of certain medications;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • fast heartbeat

WAIT. The above adverse side effects also resemble those of a Panic Attack. It is common, after ingesting Cannabis, to recognize a change in ones motor abilities,  psychological perception (time, light, space etc.), alteration of physical sensation etc.. While these adverse effects can take place and be alarming, the same can occur with over the counter analgesic pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol and anti-nausea medications like Gravol.

Remember: “Greening Out” should NOT veer one away from using Cannabis as a form of medication. NO ONE has ever died from being too high. While what your feeling may be unpleasant – it is not dangerous.

If you find yourself “Greening Out”:

1.)  Relax

  • frogs-1644927_960_720Sit down (we recommend you do not stand up and pace, nor lay down if this increases your sense of vertigo and/or nausea) If you are tired, “sleeping it off” can be the solution to feeling TOO high.
  • Know with certainly that the intense feeling you are encountering will pass. Again, NO ONE has ever died from being too high. While the sensation may be unpleasant – it is not dangerous. 
  • Breathe: In 4 Seconds, Hold 7 Seconds, Out 8 Seconds. Remember to maintain slow, full breaths at a a consistent, comfortable pace.     

2.)  Hydrate

  • Water, juice, cold/hot; hydration is key! Having a drink on hand will combat adverse effects such as dry mouth, and is a basic familiar act to focus on. “Greening Out” is like getting the hiccups – deep breaths, slow sips = decrease in spasm and good distraction.
  • Citrus drinks with Limonene disables and inhibits the effects of Cannabis. If you’re “Greening Out”, lemon juice, the zest from a lime, or a glass of grapefruit juice will do wonders. (Read here to learn more about Citrus and Cannabis)
  • DO NOT combine alcoholic beverages with Cannabis. Alcohol has been proven to significantly increase THC blood concentrations and can significantly further decrease your motor-visual skills (ergo, your ability to drive a vehicle or handle large machinery).2,3

3.) Distractions

  • Fresh Air: Some people find that their mind begins to race and they can’t “turn my brain off”. A change of scenery, still within a realm of familiarity, is a great way to distract yourself and possibly enjoy some of the effects of Cannabis. Fresh air, along with an increase in blood circulation, can also help boost your energy from any lethargic side effects brought on by Cannabis. *DO NOT venture off if you are
    feeling too anxious/paranoid, and refrain from leaving your home if you are experiencing increased light-headedness and/or feeling faint. Fresh Air can be accomplished by opening a window as well!frogs-897981_960_720
  • Art & Entertainment: You can calm your Central Nervous System (responsible for relaying the negative physical & psychological effects of Cannabis) by enjoying familiar forms of recreation that stimulate happy neurological responses. We do not recommend you partake in a new activity that may trigger further panic (Ex. Do not watch a scary movie if you don’t like being scared!) Some examples include, but are not limited to : watching a funny T.V show/movie, listening to music, playing a board/video/computer game, partaking in common meditative practices such as knitting, adult colouring books, other arts and crafts of interest, reading, etc.
  • Black Pepper : Who would of thought? Indeed though, pain is a great way to distract yourself from “Greening Out”. Neil Young swears that crunching down on a couple black pepper corns distracts him from any Cannabis induced paranoia or anxiety 5. When it comes down to the chemicals in the brain, according to a scientific review published by Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology, cannabis and pepper have very similar chemical traits; combining the terpenoids (such as beta-caryophyllene) in pepper, with the tetrahydrocannabinol in Cannabis, has a synergistic chemical reaction on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Therefore, when combined, Cannabis and black pepper have a therapeutic calming effect 4. So, grind a few peppercorns and take a whiff; sneezing may occur.

tomatoes-1277845_960_720

4.)  Eat Something

  • When you eat food, there will be a decrease in the net biophysical effect of THC-enriched blood in your brain. This is because the blood in your body is rushing to your stomach and digestive track for digestion and absorption of what you are now consuming. In turn, you will have a decrease in the psychological effects of THC and the duration of the your high will decrease.
  • If the act of cooking is familiar and something you take pleasure in, then this could be the ultimate solution for you! Relax and indulge in the munchies.                           

5.)  Be In Good Company

  • If you know anyone who is familiar with the effects of Cannabis and is a good frog-1498909_960_720friend, reach out! Sharing your “Greening Out”experience, along with having company of someone else during your unfamiliar/unwanted “high”, can be reassuring to your nerves and reduce unwanted psychological/social side effects.
  • Remember to ask: what you need, what you don’t want/need, what you think will help. Some patients have been fortunate enough to have friends who will call every half hour until the adverse side effects ware off. Asking for reassurance is OK!

 

Things To Remember:

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race: take your time between each dose. Different strains of Cannabis can have effects surface slowly or hit you hard and heavy; pace yourself and do not rush your consumption sessions. Packing in too much THC in a short period of time usually is the culprit to that uncomfortable feeling of “Greening Out”.
  • Proper Time & Place: if you do not know how Cannabis effects you and/or are not fully aware of your surroundings and company, we suggest you consume this medication in a safe and known environment. We do not want you feeling effects such as sudden fatigue or anxiety in an environment you do not know, surrounded by people you are not familiar with. We suggest you dose in your home, during a time when you have few demands on yourself.
  • Become Familiar with Your Limits: edibles can begin to take effect anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion! Gaining insight and understanding your own tolerance for active cannabinoids is something that takes time. So again, back to time, place and pacing yourself. With edibles, best start off with a quarter, then half, and increase doses slowly.
  • Know When to Stop! Everyone has a different tolerance and social environments can sometimes make you lose track of how much you are consuming. Do not forget that each individual has a different threshold, feels the onset of effects at different times, and are consuming for different reasons and symptom relief. What you eat, how hydrated you are, what mood you are in, how much sleep you’ve had – these ALL have an effect on how you will feel and how Cannabis will effect you.

To Mary Jane & The Avoidance of Feeling Green

 

1http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/alt_formats/pdf/marihuana/info/cons-eng.pdf

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11543984

3http://time.com/3899426/cannabis-alcohol-thc-car-crash-drug-safety-driving/

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/

5http://www.therooster.com/blog/keep-calm-and-listen-neil-youngs-advice-how-cure-weed-paranoia

6http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/phobias-and-panic-disorders/#.V-lNhaIrJFQ

7http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/panic-attacks-and-panic-disorders.htm

8http://www.anxietymagic.com/symptoms-of-a-panic-attack