By Luke Sumpter

Bud and booze are like chalk and cheese. The two substances produce very different effects, to the degree that they often divide people into opposing camps; purists that indulge in one while knocking the other. Those with a love for the herb cherish the introspective effects that lend themselves to solo or small group situations, whereas drinkers prefer the confidence-boosting effects of beer, wine, and hard liquor, best enjoyed in a lively bar or pub.

However, there are those that traverse the ravine between alcohol and weed. While some end up slipping into the crevasse of blackouts and vomiting, others are able to enjoy the best of both worlds upon mastering the art of crossfading.

Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about getting drunk and high together. Find out how alcohol amplifies the effects of cannabis, in which order to take both substances, and how to handle a bad reaction to this controversial mix.

What Is Crossfading?

The term “crossfading” describes the overlapping effects of multiple substances taken at the same time. Although the word sometimes refers to combinations of other drugs, it’s mostly used in the context of mixing cannabis and alcohol. Chances are you’ve experienced this state of consciousness before, or at least know someone who has.

But why would somebody choose to crossfade to begin with? Aren’t the isolated effects of weed and booze enough to have a good time? Well, booze dramatically enhances the intoxicating effects of cannabis and further helps to dampen inhibition and self-consciousness. However, as you may know, crossfading requires a delicate approach. If you go overboard with either substance, even slightly, you’ll put an end to your night before it even starts.

An interesting survey published in the journal Cannabis in 2018 asked 807 young adults between the age of 18–23 about their opinions on and experiences with crossfading[1]. Despite the small sample size relative to the number of people that indulge in the practice, this paper helps us better understand how people view and respond to crossfading.

Overall, only 43% of participants associated the word “crossfading” specifically with alcohol and weed. On top of this, 60% of them had no desire to get crossfaded, and only 5% had a high desire to give it a go. The group also viewed the practice as something best avoided; 33% saw getting crossfaded as very risky, and only 5% viewed it as a low-risk way of getting high.

What Is Crossfading?

The Science Behind Crossfading

It’s no secret that people tend to have a tough time when they mix pints with bong hits or vodka shots with vaping. But why do things go off the rails so often when getting crossfaded? What about booze and bud is so seemingly incompatible? Luckily, researchers at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry took the time to find out.

The team set out to study the interaction between alcohol and cannabis[2], driven by findings that show the two are frequently detected together in those involved in traffic collisions. According to their findings, it appears that boozing while vaping significantly increases levels of THC, and the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC, in the bloodstream. 11-hydroxy-THC is an even more potent form of delta-9-THC, and thus increasing its levels can potentiate the intoxicating effects significantly.

The researchers recruited 19 adult participants who received either a placebo or low amounts of alcohol before vaping 500mg of placebo, low-strength cannabis, or high-strength cannabis. After taking blood samples, the researchers found that the presence of alcohol significantly increased the amount of THC and 11-hydroxy-THC in the blood.

In the study, “high-strength” cannabis contained a THC content of 6.7%, but most modern cultivars contain over three times this amount. Throw several shots and a few beers into the mix, and you can see why so many people run into trouble when crossfading.

But just because some people have a bad (and even dangerous) experience doesn’t mean you can’t use alcohol and weed together. When done correctly, crossfading offers a buzz that neither substance alone can provide. The sensation will get you in the mood for socialising, and comes in handy in a party environment. Below, you’ll find out how to crossfade effectively, without spending your evening with your head in the toilet bowl.

How To Crossfade

If you want to crossfade successfully, you need to consider your approach, plan ahead, and set yourself some boundaries. Many people fall victim to uncomfortable side effects when they decide to crossfade when already too drunk to make a rational decision about dosing and pacing.

If you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into before taking the plunge, you’ll minimise disaster. After giving yourself a little pep talk about being sensible and not going overboard, you should decide in which order to take the two substances. You have two options: drink first, or smoke first. Let’s examine both in a little more detail.

  • Drinking First

Drinking before smoking can seriously amplify the effects of THC and its metabolites. So if you opt for this order, take things one toke at a time. Wait a few minutes between hits, and put that joint down as soon as you feel the desired effects. Also, avoid getting too drunk before smoking. Drink too much, and you’ll feel overconfident, abandon your original approach, and likely end up seeing your dinner again later on in the evening.

  • Smoking First

Interestingly, researchers have explored what happens when you fire up a bong or joint first. A study[3] conducted in 1992 administered a placebo, a high dose of cannabis, or a low dose of cannabis to 15 subjects after consuming alcohol.

The researchers found that cannabis might alter the bioavailability of ethanol and slow down how long it takes to kick in. While this might help to avoid feeling crossfaded too quickly, it makes it easy to continue drinking without knowing how drunk you truly are, before it’s too late. If you choose to blaze before you drink, take things slow, and let your drink settle before you pour another.

How To Crossfade

Can You Crossfade With Edibles?

This is more a question of “should you?” rather than “could you?”. Of course, you’re free to do as you please. But if you neck a few beers after munching down an edible, you’re likely to be in for a rough time. First, eating cannabis causes the liver to convert THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which, as mentioned, is even more potent than delta-9-THC.

Edibles also take longer to set in, but produce a high much more powerful than that from smoking weed. Adding alcohol to the mix will increase circulating quantities of 11-hydroxy-THC, making the experience even more extreme.

Some cannabis users experience side effects from edibles, such as agitation and nausea. While booze might take the edge off feelings of panic, it certainly won’t help when it comes to feeling sick. Bottom line: we don’t recommend sinking booze and ingesting edibles in the same sitting.

What Booze To Choose?

The kind of alcohol you choose to get crossfaded with won’t have a massive impact. More importantly, you should stay focused on the quantity and be careful not to consume too much.

However, carefully selecting your beverages will make the experience more pleasurable; it all comes down to personal taste. If you enjoy beer, why not select a terpene-packed IPA to accompany your herb? If you’re a wine person, consider a chilled white wine to go alongside some ice-chilled bong hits. Just remember; you need considerably less-strong liquor (spirits) to get on the same level as drinking several beers.

How To Handle a Bad Reaction to Crossfading

Crossfading can feel really enjoyable when done properly. But if you fail to strike a balance, you could experience a bad reaction. The signs that you’ve overdone it are similar to a greenout, only with the highly uncomfortable side effects of booze thrown in there. The main feelings you may experience during this occurrence are:

So, what should you do if this happens? Well, you’ll make things a lot worse by giving in to panic. Start out by taking some deep breaths—the type that makes your abdomen inflate. Inhale through your nose, hold for a couple of seconds, and slowly exhale out of your mouth.

Next, find somewhere comfortable. Get away from the chaos and noise of the party or gathering and find a spot to lay down until these feelings pass. If you feel particularly sick and sleepy, ask a close friend to watch over you for a while to avoid any chance of asphyxiation. You should also aim to dilute your blood by drinking plenty of water, and raise your blood sugar by tucking into some snacks when you can handle them.

Aim to Crossfade Responsibly

Crossfading goes wrong more often than it should. Sure, we all get carried away at parties and other social events. But if you’re planning to crossfade, know that moderation isn’t only key, but it will save you from ruining an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Set your limits before you start drinking or smoking, and set them intentionally low; it’s better to experience a subtle buzz than nausea and vomiting. It’ll also help to crossfade with a friend; someone you can trust to not let you go too far, and vice versa.

External Resources:
  1. Cross-faded: Young Adults’ Language of Being Simultaneously Drunk and High
  2. Any dose of alcohol combined with cannabis significantly increases levels of THC in blood
  3. Marihuana attenuates the rise in plasma ethanol levels in human subjects - PubMed
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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