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Marijuana and alcohol are underestimated drugs by themselves, and certainly underestimated in tandem. While many consider them either completely harmless or marginally so, few realize that there are risks introduced that do not come from using these drugs separately.

Excessive marijuana cannot kill from consumption, but alcohol certainly can, and often does. Many people assume that the two effects simply combine. However, it is much more complicated.

It turns out that marijuana and alcohol combine to amplify their respective effects, rather than simply add to one another. While this may not inherently be more dangerous, both drugs inhibit judgment. Amplified effects of two drugs that inhibit judgment mean a person is far more likely to make a dangerous or impulsive decision.

The mechanics involved in alcohol and marijuana consumption add to this effect. Alcohol thins the blood and increases blood pressure. That means the user/drinker gets drunker and higher on less substance and in less time. The same happens with alcohol and cocaine, but that is another topic for another day.

There is another danger, too, though. Marijuana causes cognitive impairment. Alcohol causes physical and cognitive impairment. Increased cognitive impairment combined with physical impairment means a person who is both drunk and high is far more likely to injure himself or herself. That might be via intentional injury, accidentally self-inflicted injury, injury based on the circumstances in which the person put himself or herself, or any other number of situations. At the end of the day, being high and drunk translate into a greater chance of physical harm.

Further, the high from marijuana can make alcohol poisoning a much more likely occurrence. Vomiting, nausea, and confusion characterize alcohol poisoning. Marijuana is used medically for various causes of vomiting and nausea, and its use causes confusion. These are not the only symptoms, but having those early indicators to help determine if alcohol poisoning is present is far more difficult when marijuana is involved.

Another risk is that of depression. Both marijuana and alcohol have substantial data backing up a high correlation between both of these substances and depression. Additionally, there is a clear relationship between alcohol consumption and suicide. While some evidence suggests that marijuana might reduce the risk of suicide, there is no data that shows marijuana and alcohol consumption together result in a nullification of suicidal ideation. That the marijuana increases the effects of alcohol, and the link of drug addiction to suicide, suggests that the effects of the alcohol supersede any benefit that may have originally existed when using marijuana alone.

What might be most dangerous of all, though, is the logical fallacy that marijuana and alcohol consumption is better than using cocaine or heroin. None of the aforementioned substances is good for a person; each is unhealthy in its own way. Given individuals with certain health complications, this could essentially amount to a comparison of bananas and bowling balls. However, many drinkers and pot smokers cling to the false belief that somehow they do not have a problem, solely because subjectively worse problems exist.

Marijuana and Alcohol

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