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Person in green beanie smoking weed and drinking beer getting cross-faded

Cross-faded: What is Getting Crossed?

Among young people, the term “cross-faded” is synonymous with having fun. However, the term indeed talks about overlapping drug effects, particularly of combining alcohol and marijuana. As young adults experiment with combining these substances, they get high and drunk at the same time. The practice can be dangerous and a potential indicator of an underlying substance use disorder. Combining alcohol with any other drugs can be dangerous, especially if they are both depressants, like opioids.

What Does Cross-faded Mean?

Getting crossed is the action of achieving a cross-faded high, which happens when someone is both drunk and high. It happens when people smoke marijuana after being drunk or vice versa. However, either order can still cause the same effects. It isn’t limited to only alcohol and marijuana, but alcohol and any other substance. Many people combine alcohol and cocaine to help “level out” and counteract the effects of the substances. Using multiple substances at once can result in cross-addiction or having a polysubstance use disorder.

As we know, the use of alcohol and marijuana is widespread in the United States. About 82% of young adults report alcohol use, while 32% have used marijuana in the past year. Of those, the majority report the use of marijuana and alcohol simultaneously. Many younger people don’t understand the dangers of drinking and the likelihood of developing an alcohol addiction or that lowered inhibitions due to alcohol consumption can put them in precarious situations where they may indulge in other substances that they normally wouldn’t.

How Does It Feel to be High and Drunk at the Same Time?

Each person will have a different reaction to being cross-faded. Some people will have the ultimate euphoria experience with relaxed and goofy moods characterized by a carefree response. Many people have negative reactions to combining substances and can become very sick.

However, when the THC in marijuana and alcohol have adverse reactions, symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attack

Why Does It Happen

While marijuana is becoming legal in many states, it remains illegal at the federal level. Unfortunately, this means the practice of combining marijuana and alcohol remains understudied. However, one small 2015 study by Scientific American reported that people who enjoy both marijuana and drink alcohol are twice as likely to use them together than using them alone. Starting the practice of mixing substances at a younger age opens the door for more serious problems developing or experimentation with other drugs and ensuing addiction.

In short, alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system and impacts motor skills. Then, marijuana’s THC affects the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and causes cognitive effects. At their core, they’re very different drugs and impact the body differently.

People who drink before consuming marijuana find themselves higher faster than just smoking or drinking alone. This is because alcohol affects how the blood vessels absorb THC, speeding the process. While not lethal, the combination leads to riskier behavior that’s often the cause of injuries and accidents. Riskier behavior can also lead the person to ingest more drugs or other substances that they haven’t tried before, putting them at risk for serious complications.

How Long Does It Last

How long someone feels cross-faded will vary tremendously. The amount of each substance in the body plays a critical role. In the most extreme cases, there’s a risk of “greening out,” which happens when people experience adverse psychological symptoms like paranoia. 

An average marijuana high reaches its peak around 10 minutes after consumption. The high can last anywhere between 1 to 3 hours, but some effects can linger even longer. As far as alcohol, it depends on the type of alcohol consumed. On average, most people eliminate 1 drink per hour, which means it can take the body 1 to 2 hours to metabolize the alcohol consumed within that hour. 

Cross-fading can be a dangerous practice that leads to more trouble than feeling good for an hour or two. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or marijuana addiction, contact us today for addiction treatment help.

How Common is a Cross-faded High?

While an under-studied topic, one study analyzed the frequency with which young adults were getting crossed. According to the study, over 87% of participants had heard of the term “cross-faded.” Most participants also know that getting crossed isn’t an enjoyable practice. Almost 60% said that being cross-faded was not desired. Nearly 78.1% said it was either moderately or very risky. 

Although this practice is very common, it is a dangerous and unenjoyable experience for most who have experienced it. If you find yourself or a friend in a situation where they are cross-faded and are very ill, it could be an emergency. Always reach out for help if you believe the person to be in danger.

Do You Need Help? 

Both marijuana and alcohol are prevalent drugs of choice among young adults. While marijuana might have medicinal properties for some people and many states continue to legalize it, marijuana is also addictive. If you or someone you know is regularly getting crossed, this might be an indicator of addiction. Consider speaking to an addiction specialist like Lighthouse Recovery Institute to discuss your current use of marijuana and alcohol to rule out a substance use disorder. If you believe your substance use is affecting your life in any way, please seek help. 


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