It turns out that, while alcohol and marijuana are the two drugs used the most, there has been little research on the use of the drugs together. With the growing rates of marijuana acceptance in the United States, there is a need to understand the effects of mixing alcohol and cannabis. Analyzing data from the 2005 and 2010 National Alcohol Survey, researchers found that simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana double the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and self-harm.
The research team found that simultaneous users were more likely to drive drunk, compared to those who did not mix the two substances, Medical News Today reports. What’s more, those who used alcohol and marijuana at the same time had the heaviest drinking patterns in terms of quantity and frequency. The researchers observed the varying demographics, alcohol-related social consequences, harms to self, and drunk driving across simultaneous, concurrent, and alcohol-only using groups.
“There has been some disagreement regarding whether using cannabis and alcohol together is more dangerous than using either alone,” said Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, corresponding author for the study and associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute. “My study is the first to compare how simultaneous and concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis relate to drunk driving and other social consequences among adults, and the first to examine differences between simultaneous and concurrent users in terms of demographics and substance use quantity/frequency. In this study, concurrent means having used both alcohol and cannabis within the previous 12 months, but always separately.”
“Because of both the number of states permitting medical marijuana, and differing legalizations in Washington and Colorado, as well as efforts in other states for legalization, this is a timely study and indeed it is an understudied issue,” added Tom Greenfield, center director of the Alcohol Research Group.
The findings were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.