The United States has seen a profound shift in drug policy in the past decade. Colorado was the first to legalize marijuana in the U.S., with Amendment 64 passed in 2012. Since then, several other states have followed suit, making it legal and accessible for recreational and medicinal use. Nevertheless, marijuana is still illegal in most states. Users caught in drug possession can be ordered to pay hefty fines or spend time in jail. Still, millions of Americans are daily users and rely on this substance to get through the day.
As more studies are conducted concerning marijuana use nationwide, more is understood about the risks involved in mixing marijuana with other drugs. For example, there’s some indication that cannabis interacts negatively with other substances, such as alcohol.
Alcohol and marijuana addiction may cause depressive effects. However, proper treatment can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings. AspenRidge Recovery offers alcohol and marijuana addiction treatment to help you and your loved ones. Call us at (719) 259-1107, recovery is possible and fulfilling life starts here.
How Does Cannabis Interact with Other Drugs?
Although most people would probably rank marijuana pretty low on the totem pole in terms of danger, combining it with other substances can have negative consequences. In this article, we will talk about what happens when mixing marijuana with other drugs and substances, such as:
- Prescription drugs
- Illegal substances
But first – let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about cannabis.
We offer marijuana addiction programs for Colorado residents. In addition, our compassionate staff provides support services for various substance addictions.
Is Marijuana a Depressant?
Many people who come to us for addiction treatment ask, “Is marijuana a depressant?” The drug falls into three categories. Marijuana can be classified as a:
This is because cannabis affects everybody uniquely, and various marijuana types generate different effects. For example, some people feel relaxed and sleepy when they get stoned. Some immediate side effects include and experienced:
- Loss of motor skills
- Poor coordination
- Lowered blood pressure
- Short-term memory loss
In this way, cannabis is a depressant for many users. However, you might be surprised to learn that, for many, marijuana is a stimulant. When most people think of impulses, they think of cocaine or methamphetamines. Marijuana doesn’t deliver this type of extreme mental or physical stimulation. Nevertheless, it can cause someone to experience an increase in:
- Heart rate
- Raised blood pressure
- Amped energy
- A jolt of motivation
Finally, marijuana can be hallucinogenic. While users won’t experience extreme hallucinations like they would if they took LSD or DMT, they can have auditory, visual, or sensory hallucinations.
How Does Marijuana Affect The Brain?
To understand why mixing marijuana with other drugs is not a good idea, it helps first to know how cannabis affects your brain. When you use cannabis in any form, the drug activates tiny little spots on the cells in your brain. These are called “cannabinoid receptors.” Those little receptors are there to receive endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that our system produces naturally to help our body and brain communicate with each other.
When someone uses marijuana, however, the drug generates “phytocannabinoids” (THC, CBD, and others) in their body that jump in and take the place of the naturally-produced cannabinoids. As a result, some effects of the drug, like euphoria or decreased pain, can be attributed to the fact that these new cannabinoids alter how the body and brain communicate.
However, combining marijuana with other drugs can alter this process, making things a bit more complicated. Marijuana drug interactions can cause phytocannabinoid production to increase at an unsafe rate, making it difficult for the user to function correctly.
Marijuana Interactions with Other Medications
Most marijuana users downplay this drug’s powerful effect on the brain and body. In recent years, we have been taught that marijuana is relatively safe – especially when compared to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, and other addictive drugs. But, like any psychoactive drug, marijuana can interact with other psychoactive chemicals in a way that produces less-than-desirable results.
As marijuana becomes increasingly more accessible, it is helpful to know about marijuana-drug interactions. That way, if you or someone you care about chooses to partake in this substance, you’ll be able to do so most safely and responsibly.
Mixing Marijuana and Depressants
Many people mix marijuana with depressant drugs like alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines (like Xanax) because they like how it makes them feel. This can be dangerous.
Here is a quick study in pharmacology. Depressants are drugs that inhibit the central nervous system’s (CNS) functioning and cause breathing and blood pressure to slow down. Many depressants also increase the production of the neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA carries messages between cells. Increased GABA activity reduces brain function. This leads to drowsiness, increased relaxation, and deep sleep.
Mixing marijuana with other drugs like depressants can cause the heart rate to decrease to a meager rate. It can also inhibit the user’s basic motor skills, making it difficult to think clearly, speak, or react appropriately to things around them. More importantly, mixing marijuana with depressants can be fatal or cause serious health complications. This may sound extreme, but many people who have gone to the emergency room because they have stopped breathing tested positive for marijuana and depressants. This is not a coincidence.
Mixing Marijuana and Alcohol
Getting “crossfaded” is very common among marijuana users. People say they like the buzz caused by the effects of alcohol and marijuana. The risks can be significant. Exaggerated effects of THC can cause terrifying marijuana-induced panic attacks. It can also cause:
- Extreme paranoia
- Frightening hallucinations
- Disorienting short-term memory loss
- Complete disconnection from reality
Exaggerated effects of alcohol can lead to blurred vision, complete loss of motor skills, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant consequences. So if your goal is to get high and drunk at the same time by mixing alcohol and marijuana, know going in that you might be in over your head.
Mixing Marijuana and Prescription Medicine
Millions of Americans are prescribed benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin for anxiety, insomnia, and other health conditions. By themselves, these anti-anxiety medications are dangerous. They are not only highly addictive, but they also deliver a powerful sedative effect to many. If you combine benzos and marijuana, you are looking for trouble. Remember, as we mentioned that Xanax and other benzos are depressants. They can significantly reduce heart rate and blood pressure and lead to coma or death.
Benzodiazepines are notorious for affecting memory and causing blackouts. Bud is also associated with short-term memory loss. When you mix these two substances, you will likely walk around in a mental fog that will prevent your brain from creating new memories. This increases the likelihood of putting yourself in dangerous situations where you could get robbed, assaulted, or worse.
Mixing Marijuana And Suboxone
What about mixing marijuana with other drugs like Suboxone? This synthetic compound, which can be found in many opioid replacement therapy drugs like Suboxone and Subutex, has a sedating effect, much like marijuana.
Buprenorphine is often prescribed to those dependent on opioid drugs like heroin, Oxycodone, or Fentanyl. It helps fight off cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is likely that someone who is prescribed the drug would not want to mix it with an addictive substance like cannabis in the first place. However, those considering using bud while on Suboxone, Subutex, or another drug containing buprenorphine should seriously consider the safety risks. The problems with mixing marijuana and buprenorphine stem from the opioid replacement drug having strong depressant effects. Upon taking a prescribed dose of medications like Suboxone, the user’s central nervous system will begin to slow down. Because marijuana can also act as a depressant, using the two drugs in combination can lead to respiratory depression and death. Also, it is essential to note that combining marijuana and Suboxone or other opioid replacement therapies can render buprenorphine ineffective. This means that cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms will eventually kick in, leading to a relapse.
Can You Mix Marijuana And Antidepressants?
Most drugs don’t mix with antidepressants. Marijuana is no exception. Antidepressants are prescribed to treat psychiatric conditions like:
- Other mental disorders
Many people use green while taking their antidepressants to self-medicate to find relief from their mental health issues. This is not the solution. Mixing marijuana and antidepressants can make things much worse. For example, cannabis causes many people to experience anxiety. Those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or other similar conditions can feel more pressure when they use marijuana. Medications like Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. Combining these antidepressants with marijuana can counteract the meds and enhance anxious thoughts and feelings. Some studies have shown that chronic cannabis use can lead to depression. This is ironic because many people think getting high makes their condition better. The problem is the drug wears off, and feelings of despair return. Then, the user uses more marijuana to feel better. It can become a vicious cycle. Wellbutrin, Celexa, and Paxil are often prescribed to treat depression.
Mixing marijuana and these antidepressants prevent the medications from working correctly. Some Doctors Won’t Prescribe Antidepressants to Marijuana Users It is important to mention that antidepressants and weed together make it almost impossible for your doctor to help you get better. When you are under the care of a psychiatrist, they monitor your progress and determine if the medication you have been prescribed is working. Suppose you are using marijuana and antidepressants at the same time. In that case, there is no way to determine which substance is causing the specific effect. Medication adjustments and changes are basically out of the question because they are entirely counterproductive. Many doctors won’t treat you if you mix these two substances.
Different Types of Antidepressants and Marijuana Drug Interactions
Three different types of antidepressants may interact with cannabis in negative ways – SSRIs, SNRIs, and MAOIs. In addition, mixing other antidepressants with marijuana can produce varied side effects and problems. Let’s talk about these. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, also known as SSRIs, are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant. Drugs like Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Paxil are examples. These help to treat depression and other mental health conditions by increasing the amount of serotonin released in the body. Serotonin is a natural feel-good neurotransmitter. It promotes feelings of wellness and contentment.
Studies have shown that marijuana also helps release serotonin in the brain. For this reason, mixing marijuana and Prozac, combining marijuana and Wellbutrin, or doing marijuana with other antidepressants can have dire consequences. Specifically, too much serotonin can lead to Serotonin Syndrome. This occurs when the brain can’t handle the quantity of the chemical it’s been tasked to process. People who have Serotonin Syndrome will experience a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. These include agitation, restlessness, mental confusion, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, sweats, vomiting, and diarrhea. Also, be warned: using marijuana and SSRIs can lead to life-threatening conditions like high fever, seizures, shock, irregular heartbeat, and unconsciousness. On another note, many people take the antidepressant Wellbutrin to help fight cravings for harmful substances. It is sometimes prescribed to people who are quitting smoking or recovering from heroin addiction.
Mixing marijuana and Wellbutrin, like other SSRIs, is not a good idea for the reasons we have explained. Effexor is a Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI). Other SNRIs include Cymbalta and Pristiq. These antidepressants work in very much the same way that SSRIs do. People who are prescribed SNRIs should not mix them with cannabis. THC and CBD (two of the primary compounds in marijuana) and SNRIs can affect how serotonin is regulated in the brain. The combination of them can produce unpredictable results. Those prescribed an SNRI who throw cannabis into the mix might feel highly disoriented. They are also subject to developing Serotonin Syndrome. MAOIs: Although Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) like Nardil is not prescribed very much these days (most patients who would have been prescribed them receive SSRIs or SNRIs instead), those who do take these drugs shouldn’t smoke marijuana. MAOIs interact with marijuana in a way that heightens the sedative qualities of cannabis to an unsafe level.
AspenRidge Recovery – Marijuana Addiction Treatment
Every individual experiencing alcohol and marijuana addiction can get the help they need. No one is alone in this journey. Speak to a trusted loved one and get help from us at AspenRidge Recovery. At our recovery center, we want you to know that recovery is possible and you’re on your way to a fulfilling life.
We provide alcohol addiction treatment programs and other suitable treatments for alcohol and marijuana abuse in Colorado.
Not sure which program is right for you? Call us at (719) 259-1107. Reach out to us today and get the help you need.