Abuse Patterns in Marijuana and Alcohol

Alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly abused psychoactive substances in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Talk to any adult or visit any college campus, and chances are you won’t have too much trouble finding someone who has been drunk and high at the same time.

Even though one of these substances is legal and the other is common, that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Abuse patterns demonstrate a real danger of addiction.

What You Need to Know About Abuse of Alcohol

Alcohol may be legal, but it is also an extremely powerful drug that negatively affects health and well being — even in moderate quantities. Habitual drinkers usually must start drinking more to get the same effects. This is called tolerance, and as tolerance increases, so does the risk of physical addiction.

In physically addicted people, drinking alcohol is necessary simply to feel normal. That is because alcohol influences how the brain releases certain natural chemicals. It also negatively affects learning, memory, decision-making, and perceived reward.

An individual with alcoholism typically denies addiction is a problem. This happens even when problem signs are obvious. These signs include getting a DUI, job loss, relationship problems, financial issues, and reputation troubles.

Without alcohol, you might notice symptoms such as anxiety, shakiness, nausea, or hallucinations. Cravings to drink persist, and after drinking, withdrawal symptoms go away. Heavy drinkers should get professional help when quitting because withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable. In the most severe cases, withdrawing alone can be fatal.

What You Need to Know About Abuse of Marijuana

Although the pro-legalization lobby insists smoking marijuana is safe and non-addictive, clinical evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Marijuana is the third most commonly reported cause of addiction rehabilitation, according to DrugFreeWorld.org. It is also frequently associated with violence and property damage.

Marijuana is linked to a wide range of severe health problems, including schizophrenia and heart attack. In fact, within the first hour of abuse, the risk of heart attack skyrockets. The latest evidence indicates that marijuana also negatively affects brain size.

The marijuana of today is much stronger than the marijuana used by older generations. It may also contain other substances such as PCP.

If you suspect that someone you know is abusing marijuana, look for reddened eyes, increased appetite, and an apathetic attitude. You might also notice paranoia, sleepiness, or coughing and wheezing.

Abusing Alcohol and Marijuana Together

Mixing psychoactive substances such as alcohol and marijuana together — also called polydrug abuse — intensifies the reactions of both. Although you might believe that using alcohol and marijuana together is safe, you actually increase your risk for death or injury. This occurs because:

  • Marijuana stifles nausea and the urge to vomit, according to Northeastern University. That makes drinking more easier, but vomiting alcohol’s toxins — a protective mechanism — more difficult. If you drink and smoke pot at the same time, you increase your risk for potentially fatal alcohol poisoning.
  • Using marijuana and alcohol together can cause intense feelings of panic and paranoia, which leads to bad decision-making.
  • “Greening out” sometimes occurs when combining alcohol and marijuana. During greening out, feelings of dizziness or nausea accompany an intense need to lie down.

Marijuana does not typically cause physical addiction and withdrawal symptoms. It can, however, cause emotional problems such as depression and anxiety.

Are You Addicted to Marijuana and Alcohol?

It can be difficult to figure out if you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol and marijuana. Denial is one of the most common characteristics of people who are addicted. Admitting to a problem is even harder if you continue to work, have friends, and live a “normal” lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you smoke marijuana and drink alcohol regularly, you may have a substance abuse problem.

You may suffer from addiction and need professional help if:

  • You drink and/or smoke at unusual times, such as in the morning, at work, or during other inappropriate times.
  • You spend increasingly more time thinking about or planning drinking or smoking.
  • You have problems with money, relationships, the law, or your reputation.
  • You have forgotten or ignored important obligations or events because of drinking or smoking.
  • You skip once-loved activities to spend time drinking and smoking instead.
  • You have tried to quit before but always seem to wind up using again.
  • You are unable to predict when or how much you will use drugs or alcohol.
  • You suffer withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, shakiness, nausea, or insomnia when you’re not using.
  • You drink more than four to five drinks at one time, and more than 14 drinks per week.
  • You spend more time with people who party instead of sober family members and friends.

If any one of these sound familiar, it’s time to get help. Our rehab center can get you through early withdrawal and uncover the underlying reasons why you use alcohol and marijuana. For more information on beating an addiction to alcohol and marijuana, contact us now.

The Addiction Blog