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Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You're Drunk And Stoned at The Same Time

There's a reason you feel so lit.

FIONA MACDONALD
31 DEC 2016
 

Alcohol and marijuana are two of the most commonly used drugs, and, as you've probably seen if you've been to a party lately, they're often used together.

But while a lot has been written about their effects on our bodies and brains separately, what happens when you mix the two? 

 

The latest episode of AsapSCIENCE explores the research, and shows that there are actually some pretty weird things happening on the biological level when you smoke and drink:

To start with, let's break down the main effects of alcohol and weed on their own. Alcohol affects your central nervous system by changing how your neurons communicate. It does this by suppressing the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, and increasing the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.

For the user, that means you feel less, perceive less, and remember less while you drink.

But weed works in a different way. Marijuana's active ingredient is THC, and it acts on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, causing some neurons to fire continuously, making your imagination and thoughts feel magnified and more connected.

What both drugs have in common is that glutamate inhibition. And seeing as glutamate is a crucial part of the learning process, studies have linked getting high and drunk at the same time to poor memory.

 

For example, a 2002 study showed that rats were less able to recognise objects when they were drunk and high, compared to those who'd just been exposed to one drug or the other.

The good news for many is that drinking also increases the effects of marijuana. After drinking two shots of alcohol, a study showed that participants' THC blood plasma levels doubled, compared to those who were stoned but only drank placebo alcohol.

In other words, alcohol makes you more high, most likely because alcohol increases the amount of blood flow around the body. And there's some evidence that weed might return the favour and reduce some of the damage that heavy alcohol consumption does to your liver

But before you decide to combine the two, there are also a few nasty side effects worth keeping in mind. We'll let AsapSCIENCE explain those in the video above - interestingly, some of the features that make marijuana an effective treatment for those going through chemotherapy also make it dangerous to take while drinking.

Party safe out there, friends.

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