October 04, 2021

Do Delta-8 & Alcohol Mix?

Wondering if delta-8-THC and alcohol can be safely mixed? You’re in the right place!

As you probably know, delta-8-THC is the new kid on the cannabinoid block. (It also goes by the names delta-8 and D8, in case you haven’t heard…)

D8 comes in the form of products like delta-8 gummies. For many folks, it’s become the life of their party. Which might bring up questions about mixing it with booze.

Usually we’d scoop up the latest science on the subject. But when it comes to D8 and alcohol, there aren’t research efforts we can point to just yet.

However, we can draw some educated conclusions based on delta-9-THC — that’s “regular” THC. We’re doing just that in this article (drawing educated conclusions, that is), plus sharing guidelines for using D8 responsibly.

Read on to get the 411 on D8 and alcohol.

What Is Delta-8-THC & How’s It Stack Up To Delta-9-THC?

To understand how D8 interacts with alcohol, it helps to know what it is and how it compares to delta-9-THC. We’ll define D8 while measuring it up to delta-9.

Let’s start with the similarities.

  • Delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC are naturally-occurring cannabis compounds.
  • They’re both forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • They both yield psychoactive effects (i.e., they cause a high).

Now, let’s look at what makes D8 and delta-9 different.

  • Although delta-8 occurs naturally in cannabis, it’s only present in small quantities. So it’s often recreated in a lab setting to yield higher concentrations for D8 products.
  • The high from delta-8 is a few notches down from delta-9. A D8 experience doesn’t tend to cause paranoia or anxiety.
  • Legal FYI: Delta-9-THC and marijuana are illegal in most states. Hemp-derived delta-8 is federally legal (though some states have restricted D8, so it’d be wise to look up your local laws).

You can think of delta-8 as THC-lite. That said, it’s still related to THC and shares properties with delta-9-THC. Knowing this, we can connect some dots re: D8 + alcohol.

What This Means For Combining Delta-8 & Alcohol

Although delta-8 has lower THC concentrations than delta-9, both have similar effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Fair warning: We’re going to get a teensy bit (okay, a lotta bit) sciency for a second to break down why the ECS matters. But you’ll be a more educated D8 consumer for it!

THC & The ECS: How THC Interacts With The Body

Whether you consume CBD, CBG, D8, D9, or any of the other many cannabinoids, they interact with your ECS.

The ECS has a big job. It helps your body’s systems communicate and regulate essential functions like sleep, immune response, and appetite. (Important stuff!)

When cannabinoids are introduced to the ECS, they can have effects that benefit the body and mind.(1)  And when THC mingles with the ECS, it results in euphoria and other psychotropic experiences.

Based on what we know right now, it appears that D8 interacts with the ECS in a similar fashion to delta-9-THC.

That means mixing delta-8 with alcohol may not be so different than mixing marijuana with alcohol. Which ultimately means that we have a different question to answer...

What Happens When You Mix THC & Alcohol?

Alcohol is a sedative that depresses your central nervous system. It has predictable effects on its own. But with THC involved, it can become surprising in not-so-fun ways.

Getting crossfaded(the term for mixing weed and alcohol) is fun for some folks but miserable for others. This is at least in part due to personal tolerance.

Interestingly, research hints that the order in which you consume the substances might play a role in the outcome.

  • Drinking alcohol before consuming marijuana increases the absorption of THC.(2) That can cause what’s known as a green out, which is just as not-fun as drinking too much. Telltale signs of greening out are nausea, vomiting, sweating, shivering, anxiety, and paranoia.
  • On the flipside, taking THC first then drinking might reduce the absorption of alcohol.(3) You could feel sober, but may actually have high concentrations of alcohol in your bloodstream. That’s not necessarily a good thing though — it might cause you to drink more than your body can handle, increasing the likelihood of alcohol poisoning.

Keep in mind that the studies these results came from were small. Plus, everyone has a unique tolerance to cannabinoids and alcohol. There are no hard and fast rules here.

Since there are no studies focused on D8 and alcohol, it’s unknown if the risks are the same. Ultimately, it’s smart to exercise caution when combining any substances.

Learn what the science says about mixing CBD and alcohol in our articleCBD + Alcohol: Here’s What We Know.

Possible Long-Term Risks Of Combining THC With Alcohol

There hasn’t been much research on the long-term effects of using alcohol and THC, but available information might help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  • Long-term use of THC and alcohol may negatively impact cognitive function. A study of 21 people found that cognitive function was worse in those who consumed THC and alcohol versus those who only consumed alcohol.(4)
  • Dependence on alcohol and THC could be increased when they’re used together. A review of available studies found that people who use the two at the same time generally use more of both.(5)
  • As with anything that has intoxicating effects, THC and alcohol can impair driving independently and when used together. Never drive after consuming D8, marijuana, or alcohol.

Using D8 Responsibly

Being responsible about your delta-8 usage can help you and others stay safe. Whether you’re combining delta-8 with drinks or not, follow these best practices.

  • Start low and slow. Take a low dose and wait to feel its effects before consuming more. This is especially important if D8 is new to you, and double-especially important if you’re using it with alcohol.
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery after taking delta-8. Get a D8 DD (delta-8 designated driver).
  • If you notice your D8 or alcohol usage has become a habit, or you're using it to cope with depression or mental health challenges, contact your healthcare provider. You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) hotline at 800-662-4357.
  • Talk to your doc before taking D8 or drinking alcohol if you take medication and/or have a health condition. Not all substances mix well with treatment plans.
  • Learn what to do in the event of a green out or alcohol poisoning.

How To Know When To Get Help

Drinking alcohol and taking THC could increase the risk of a green out or alcohol poisoning. A green out isn’t life-threatening, and can often be remedied by eating, hydrating, and relaxing in a safe space.

Alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening, though. If you or someone else is experiencing the following symptoms, seek medical help.

  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Low body temperature
  • Blue lips or skin
  • Slow or irregular breathing

Be open with first responders and medical professionals about any substances that are involved when someone has alcohol poisoning. The more they know, the better they can help.

D8 & Alcohol: Please Mix Responsibly

Until science suggests otherwise, delta-8-THC should be treated like regular THC when mixing it with alcohol. That means knowing the facts about mixing alcohol and THC is key to responsible usage.

If you do choose to mix D8 with alcohol, learn the potential risks and how to respond in the event of a bad reaction.

Of course, you can always enjoy delta-8 and its benefits without booze. It could result in a better, more predictable D8 experience.

SHOP VEGAN DELTA-8 GUMMIES

References

  1. Perez, L. (2021). 9 Science-Backed Benefits Of CBD Oil. Forbes Health. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/cbd-oil-benefits/
  2. Hartman, R, et al. (2015). Controlled Cannabis Vaporizer Administration: Blood and Plasma Cannabinoids with and without Alcohol. https://academic.oup.com/clinchem/article/61/6/850/5611427
  3. Lukas, SE, et al. (1992). Marihuana attenuates the rise in plasma ethanol levels in human subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1326277/
  4. Ramaekers, JG, et al. (2011). Tolerance and cross-tolerance to neurocognitive effects of THC and alcohol in heavy cannabis users. Psychopharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-010-2042-1
  5. Yurasek, AM, et al. (2017). Co-use of Alcohol and Cannabis: A Review. Curr Addict Rep. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-017-0149-8


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