Disclaimer: The material and information contained on this website is for educational purposes only.

Being Drunk vs. Being High: Key Differences

Discover the key differences between being drunk and being high.

Understanding Intoxication

To better understand the differences between being drunk and being high, it is important to examine the effects of alcohol intoxication and marijuana intoxication.

Effects of Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol intoxication affects both the mind and body. When someone is drunk, they may experience a range of effects, including impaired judgment, reduced coordination, slurred speech, and altered perception of time and space. These effects are a result of alcohol's impact on the central nervous system.

Alcohol can also have psychosocial effects, leading to changes in behavior, such as increased sociability or aggression. It can lower inhibitions and impair decision-making abilities, potentially leading to risky behaviors.

Heavy binge social drinkers (HD) and light social drinkers (LD) exhibit similar alcohol-induced impairment in psychomotor task performance, but HD individuals may perceive themselves as less impaired compared to LD individuals, particularly during the early portion of alcohol consumption.

Effects of Marijuana Intoxication

Marijuana intoxication, on the other hand, is characterized by a different set of effects. When someone is high on marijuana, they may experience altered perception, relaxation, euphoria, and an increased sense of well-being. Some individuals may also experience heightened sensory perception and an altered sense of time.

Marijuana acts as both a stimulant and depressant, affecting different individuals in various ways. It can lead to feelings of relaxation and tranquility, but it can also cause anxiety or paranoia, especially in high doses.

Female cannabis users may have different levels of working memory impairments compared to male cannabis users. Additionally, participants have described differences between alcohol and marijuana with regard to psychosocial and physical sexual experiences. Alcohol use is commonly associated with social outgoingness, atypical partner choice, and post-sex regret, while marijuana use is associated with increased self-perception of attractiveness and more tender, slow, and compassionate sexual acts. Alcohol is also more likely than marijuana to lead to sexual risk behaviors and negative sexual effects [3].

It's important to note that the effects of alcohol and marijuana can vary depending on the individual, the amount consumed, and other factors such as tolerance and personal history. It is recommended to consume both substances responsibly and be aware of the potential risks associated with their use.

Understanding the differences between alcohol intoxication and marijuana intoxication can help individuals make informed decisions and better navigate situations involving these substances.

Gender Differences in Substance Use

When it comes to substance use, there are notable differences between genders in terms of the effects and consequences. In this section, we will explore two key aspects: variances in working memory and psychosocial and physical effects.

Variances in Working Memory

Research has shown that female cannabis users experience significant differences in working memory impairments compared to male cannabis users. Working memory is responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information, which plays a crucial role in cognitive tasks such as decision-making, problem-solving, and attention.

While both males and females may experience working memory impairments due to substance use, the degree and nature of these impairments can vary. It is essential to consider these differences when assessing the cognitive effects of alcohol and marijuana intoxication on individuals of different genders.

Psychosocial and Physical Effects

The psychosocial and physical effects of alcohol and marijuana intoxication can also differ between genders. A study found that participants described various differences in sexual experiences related to alcohol and marijuana use. Alcohol use was commonly associated with social outgoingness, atypical partner choice, post-sex regret, and an increased likelihood of engaging in sexual risk behaviors. On the other hand, marijuana use was associated with increased self-perception of attractiveness and more tender, slow, and compassionate sexual acts.

It is important to note that these differences are based on reported experiences and may not be universally applicable. Individual responses to substances can vary, and personal factors such as mindset, dosage, and frequency of use can influence the outcomes. Additionally, the effects of alcohol and marijuana on sexual experiences are complex and can be influenced by various factors, including social and cultural contexts.

Understanding the gender differences in substance use effects can help addiction counselors and individuals suffering from addiction tailor their treatment and interventions. By considering the unique challenges and consequences faced by each gender, personalized support can be provided to address specific needs.

As we continue to explore the differences between being drunk and being high, it is vital to acknowledge the complexity of substance use and its impact on individuals of different genders. Through comprehensive research and a holistic approach to addiction treatment, we can foster healthier lifestyles and support individuals in their journey to recovery.

Impairment and Behavior

When comparing the effects of being drunk and being high, it's important to consider the impact on cognitive abilities and behavioral variances.

Impact on Cognitive Abilities

Alcohol consumption leads to various short-term effects such as relaxation, lowered inhibitions, increased sociability, and euphoria. However, it can also be accompanied by impaired judgment, coordination, and motor skills [4]. The degree of intoxication depends on the amount consumed. Alcohol can impair inhibitory control and cognitive function, affecting decision-making and overall cognitive abilities.

On the other hand, the short-term effects of cannabis consumption include relaxation, euphoria, altered perception of time, increased appetite, and heightened sensory experiences. However, cannabis can impair short-term memory, coordination, and concentration for some individuals. The acute effects of cannabis can affect decision-making and cognitive function.

Behavioral Variances

Alcohol use can lead to behavioral changes such as increased sociability, decreased inhibitions, and relaxation. However, it can also result in impaired judgment and coordination, leading to risky behaviors and accidents. Alcohol can affect motor skills and reaction times, impacting behavior in various situations.

In contrast, cannabis use may result in behavioral changes such as relaxation and altered perception of time. Some individuals may experience increased appetite and heightened sensory experiences. However, cannabis can also impair short-term memory, coordination, and concentration, which may impact behavior in certain situations. It's worth noting that the behavioral effects of cannabis can vary depending on the individual and the strain of marijuana used.

It is essential to understand that both alcohol and cannabis can have different effects on different individuals. Factors such as the amount consumed, tolerance, and individual susceptibility can influence the severity and manifestation of these effects. It is always important to prioritize safety and make responsible choices when it comes to the use of alcohol or cannabis to minimize the risks associated with impaired cognitive abilities and behavioral changes.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Effects

When comparing the effects of being drunk and being high, it is important to consider both the short-term and long-term impacts on the individual. Understanding these effects can provide insights into the potential risks and consequences associated with alcohol and marijuana intoxication.

Immediate Intoxication Effects

The immediate effects of being drunk and being high can vary from person to person. While some individuals may find similarities in the sensations experienced, others may describe them as distinctly different. The intensity of these effects depends on factors such as the amount of substance consumed and individual reactions.

Alcohol intoxication typically results in a range of effects, including relaxation, lowered inhibitions, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and impaired judgment. Hangovers, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues are some of the common short-term effects associated with alcohol consumption.

On the other hand, marijuana intoxication can lead to various sensations, such as altered perception, relaxation, euphoria, increased appetite, and impaired memory and coordination. It's important to note that marijuana can act as both a stimulant and a depressant, and its effects can linger in the body organs for a longer duration compared to alcohol [6].

Long-Term Health Risks

Long-term health risks associated with alcohol and marijuana use should also be considered when comparing the two. Heavy or long-term alcohol consumption can lead to serious health issues, including liver disease, brain damage, heart disease, and addiction. Alcohol use disorder affects a significant number of individuals, with approximately 15 million people in the United States alone being affected.

In contrast, the long-term risks of marijuana use are still being studied, and research on this topic is more limited compared to alcohol. However, it is worth noting that marijuana use disorder, also known as "marijuana addiction," can occur in approximately 30% of users. It is important to acknowledge that individual responses to both substances can vary greatly, making it challenging to determine a clear winner in the debate between alcohol and marijuana.

Furthermore, smoking marijuana can potentially injure mucosal tissue and may have more carcinogenic potential than tobacco. Additionally, marijuana has been found to trigger psychotic episodes in individuals who are more vulnerable.

In summary, being drunk and being high have distinct short-term effects, with alcohol often leading to hangovers and physical discomfort. Long-term health risks associated with heavy or prolonged alcohol consumption are well-documented. While marijuana appears to have fewer long-term risks compared to alcohol, research on its long-term effects is still limited. Both substances carry the potential for addiction and misuse, although alcohol use disorder is more prevalent compared to cannabis use disorder. Individual reactions and experiences with each substance can vary, making it crucial for individuals to be aware of their own limits and make informed choices regarding their substance use.

Driving Impairment and Legalities

When it comes to the effects of intoxication, one of the crucial aspects to consider is the impact on driving ability. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs poses significant risks to both the driver and others on the road. In this section, we will explore the legal aspects and penalties associated with drug-impaired driving.

Drug-Impaired Driving Laws

In many jurisdictions, including Canada, specific laws have been implemented to address drug-impaired driving. The prohibited blood drug concentrations for the new drug-impaired driving offenses, including THC and other impairing drugs like Cocaine, LSD, Ketamine, and Methamphetamine, were established to ensure the safety of the public. These laws aim to deter individuals from operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018, oral fluid drug screeners have been approved for use as an additional tool by law enforcement to detect the presence of drugs, including THC. A positive result on an oral fluid drug screener may lead to further evaluations or a blood sample. Law enforcement authorities employ Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and Drug Recognition Evaluations (DRE) to identify drug-impaired driving. SFST tests are conducted at the roadside, while DRE evaluations involve bodily fluid samples and provide additional evidence for drug-impaired driving charges.

Penalties and Enforcement

Penalties for drug-impaired driving offenses in Canada carry mandatory minimum penalties. For a first offense, there is a $1,000 fine, for a second offense, 30 days imprisonment, and for a third offense, 120 days imprisonment. These penalties aim to discourage individuals from driving under the influence of drugs.

Law enforcement authorities in Canada take drug-impaired driving seriously and have put measures in place to enforce the laws. The use of SFST tests and DRE evaluations has been in practice since 2008 to detect drug-impaired driving. Additionally, the approval of oral fluid drug screeners as an additional tool assists law enforcement in detecting the presence of drugs.

It is crucial to understand and comply with the laws regarding drug-impaired driving to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. The penalties associated with these offenses serve as a deterrent, emphasizing the importance of responsible and sober driving. Always remember that mixing driving with drug use is unsafe, and it is essential to prioritize the well-being and safety of all road users.

Co-Use Effects

When alcohol and cannabis are used together, known as co-use, it can have various effects on cognitive function and brain structure. Studies have shown that co-use is associated with negative outcomes, including impaired cognitive function and significant alterations in key structural and functional regions of the brain. However, there is still ongoing research and lack of consensus on the effects of co-use due to methodological challenges and varying definitions of concurrent and simultaneous use.

Cognitive Function Impairments

Lifetime co-users, individuals who use both alcohol and cannabis, have been found to demonstrate impairments across cognitive domains compared to controls. These impairments include executive function, attention, verbal recall, and working memory. Co-users also exhibit lower white matter integrity, greater cortical thickness, and greater gray matter surface area compared to minimal-substance using controls.

It is worth noting that it is still unclear whether these effects are unique to co-use or if they are similar to the effects of alcohol or cannabis use alone. Further research is needed to better understand the specific cognitive impairments associated with co-use and how they differ from single-substance use.

Brain Structure Alterations

Functional neuroimaging studies on co-use have yielded inconsistent findings. Some studies suggest that recent co-use impacts neural function in ways that are both similar and different compared to alcohol or cannabis use alone. For example, recent co-users may exhibit fewer neural activations in certain brain regions associated with attention and response inhibition, but greater activation in other regions associated with risky decision-making. However, most studies do not measure the quantity of alcohol and cannabis used or the occurrence of simultaneous use, which limits the ability to draw definitive conclusions about the effects of co-use on brain function [8].

The relationship between co-use and brain structure alterations is complex and requires further investigation. It is essential to consider the potential differences in co-use patterns and the influence of other substances, such as alcohol, to gain a better understanding of the specific effects on brain structure.

In summary, co-use of alcohol and cannabis has been associated with cognitive function impairments and alterations in brain structure. However, due to the limitations of current research, it is challenging to draw definitive conclusions about the effects of co-use compared to single-substance use. Further studies are necessary to fully understand the unique impact of co-use on cognitive function and brain structure.









Recent Articles

Have Questions or Ready to Get Help Today?


We're ready to assist 24/7 with any questions about treatment for you or a loved one.

There is no cost or obligation to enter treatment when you speak with one of our admissions representatives.