If you regularly consume CBD, especially for therapeutic reasons, you may be wondering if it is safe to mix with alcohol. The short answer is yes, it is. However, the long answer is more complex.
While the research on mixing alcohol and CBD is sparse, researchers believe that the two substances definitely interact. Moreover, some experts believe that, because the sedating effects of both substances are similar, they might actually amplify each other, making the overall experience more intense.
If you are planning to go out for just a few drinks this weekend, can you still take your daily CBD? According to medical research, taking CBD while under the influence of alcohol appears to present limited compounded risks.
A study from 1979 published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology noted very few differences between test subjects administered CBD and alcohol, and those administered just alcohol. The study found that both groups demonstrated “significant impairments of motor and psychomotor performances” and “overestimations of time”. In other words, both groups seemed similarly inhibited and impaired.
However, a difference became apparent when researchers looked more closely at the blood samples of both groups. Despite their similar levels of impairment, the group that received both substances had noticeably lower blood alcohol levels.
While CBD may lower your blood alcohol level, it does not make it any safer to act rashly, consume more alcohol, or operate any kind of motor vehicle while under the influence. As noted in the study, you can expect alcohol to affect you the same, if not more, when consuming it at the same time as CBD. Cannabidiol simply does not mitigate the risk of any negative side effects or consequences of consuming alcohol.
Because both cannabis and alcohol are depressants, the relaxing, numbing, sedative-like effects of both substances are often intensified when consumed together. While CBD is not mind-altering, its subtle sedating effects still mix with alcohol in a way that amplifies them.
In general, you should expect alcohol’s effects to be more intense if you consume it within 4–8 hours of consuming CBD. Allowing CBD and alcohol to interact will result in a greater loss of inhibition, a greater loss of control, and a greater loss of motor coordination. Simply put, the effects of consuming both at the same time will be more intense than those produced by just consuming one.
On a slightly different note, researchers believe that CBD may help to mitigate some of the damage that alcohol does to the body. Animal studies show that CBD may offer protection from both neurodegeneration and liver damage.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Free Radical Biology & Medicine studied the effects of CBD on alcohol-induced hepatic steatosis, otherwise known as fatty liver disease, in mice. Researchers found that CBD could prevent acute alcohol-induced liver damage, potentially due to its ability to prevent increases in oxidative stress and decreases in autophagy typically caused by alcohol.
Moreover, researchers believe that CBD may be able to help with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcoholism. A 2019 review of animal and human studies found that CBD was able to reduce “cue-elicited and stress-elicited alcohol seeking” behaviour. Administration of CBD also resulted in a decrease of “withdrawal-induced convulsions” and an improvement in the ability to delay reward. It appears that CBD may be able to help decrease both the physical and mental triggers that result in alcohol cravings and relapses.
From what we know thus far, it does appear that mixing CBD and alcohol has the potential to augment characteristic effects. That being said, CBD has found its way into numerous alcoholic beverage lines, especially beer, where it is enjoying a steady tenure in North American markets. Since research has yet to fully exploit the relationship between different doses of CBD and alcohol, we will make no suggestions for their combined use. However, if you are interested in learning more about mixing these two substances, start by talking with your doctor.