Imbibing in bubbly alongside a bubbling bong is a time-honored tradition for many cannabis lovers. Sometimes a little drink and a little smoke works wonders for taking off the edge after a long, arduous day.
However, a new study suggests that people who often combine alcohol with their cannabis consumption are more likely to act on impulse and engage in risky behaviors.
The study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, looked at 1,017 American adults aged 18 to 25 who reported drinking alcohol some time within the past month. After tallying the data, here’s what they discovered.
First, individuals identified as simultaneous alcohol and marijuana (SAM) users were more likely to drink alcohol than non-toking folks who just stuck to the bottle. Not surprisingly, SAM users also consumed more weed than the average toker.
Second, SAM users were more likely to report that they engaged in risky behaviors or experienced problems related to heavy drinking.
"Even after controlling for the number of drinks a person typically consumed, people who used alcohol and marijuana at the same time were at a greater risk for problems like blacking out, getting in an argument, or other concerns," said Ashley Linden-Carmichael, a substance use researcher at Penn State University and the study’s lead author, in a news release. "Additionally, 70 percent of those who engaged in simultaneous use reported using at least weekly."
For the hardcore partiers out there, Linden-Carmichael isn’t saying that no one should ever mix their weed with booze. Rather, her research team is trying to understand how SAM users’ behaviors, and how mixing substances, can affect someone in the long run.
"Right now, a lot of campus programs focus on whether students are drinking, and while sometimes they are asked about other substances, it's not necessarily whether they're using these substances simultaneously," she said. "I think we do need to be asking about whether they're drinking in combination with other drugs and educating students about how that exacerbates their risk."
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Mixing weed with booze isn’t necessarily the worst thing someone can do to themselves. Previous research suggests that if someone is going to drink heavily, weed can help minimize the damage — particularly to the liver — caused by chugging booze. Other studies indicate that cannabis consumers, in general, prefer weed over alcohol anyway, with alcohol sales (arguably) slumping in weed-legal states because of legalization.
Additionally, the study didn’t determine causation between combining pot with pilsners. Rather, it showed a strong correlation between impulsive individuals and their polydrug behaviors. It’s certainly possible that people who are already inclined toward rash decision-making, flying off the handle, or otherwise giving into their base urges at every opportunity just-so-happen to love getting supremely fucked up on buds and booze, too.
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