What Are the Differences Between Being Drunk and Being High?

Explore the differences between being drunk and high, from health impacts to behavioral effects.

Alcohol vs. Marijuana Effects

The effects of alcohol and marijuana can significantly differ, and understanding these differences is crucial when discussing the impacts of these substances. This section will delve into the subjective drug effects and behavioral impairments of alcohol and marijuana.

Subjective Drug Effects

Research shows that both alcohol and marijuana can cause dose-related changes in subjective measures of drug effect. This means that as the dosage increases, the perceived effects also intensify. Interestingly, ratings of perceived impairment were found to be identical for high doses of both alcohol and marijuana. It's important to note that the individual's perception of impairment may not always accurately reflect their actual level of impairment, underscoring the risks associated with both substances. These findings were published in a study on ScienceDirect.

Behavioral Impairment Studies

Behavioral impairment studies offer valuable insights into the functional effects of alcohol and marijuana. In a study involving male volunteers with histories of moderate alcohol and marijuana use, three doses of alcohol and three doses of marijuana were administered under double-blind conditions. The participants were then subjected to a number recognition test.

The results indicated that alcohol, but not marijuana, slightly impaired performance in the number recognition test. This suggests that alcohol may have a more significant impact on certain cognitive functions than marijuana. However, it doesn't mean that marijuana use is without risks or impairments. The study also confirmed that active drug was delivered to subjects in a dose-dependent manner, as indicated by blood alcohol concentration and THC levels. These findings highlight the importance of considering dosage and concentration when evaluating the effects of alcohol and marijuana. Details of this study can be found in the same article.

In conclusion, both alcohol and marijuana have distinct effects that can impact an individual's perception and behavior. However, these effects can vary greatly depending on factors such as dosage, concentration, and individual tolerance levels. As such, understanding these differences is crucial when discussing the risks associated with alcohol and marijuana use.

Alcohol Impacts on Health

Understanding the health impacts of alcohol is essential to make informed decisions about its consumption. This section will delve into the effects of alcohol on brain communication and the potential heart and liver issues that can arise from heavy drinking.

Effects on Brain Communication

Alcohol is known to interfere with the brain’s communication pathways, causing a variety of alterations in mood, behavior, clarity of thought, and coordination. This disruption in brain communication can lead to both immediate and long-term effects, including impaired memory, slowed reflexes, and even permanent brain damage in severe cases. It's important to consider these potential impacts, as they contribute to the overall differences between being drunk and being high.

Heart and Liver Issues

Alcohol consumption can lead to serious heart and liver issues, particularly in cases of heavy drinking. These include various liver problems and inflammations, which can cause severe health complications over time.

In addition to liver issues, alcohol can also negatively impact the pancreas. Alcohol consumption can lead to the production of toxic substances by the pancreas, potentially causing pancreatitis, an inflammation that impairs digestion and causes pain [1].

Moreover, alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol intake and cancer risks, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast.

These significant health impacts of alcohol underline the importance of moderate and mindful drinking. Understanding these potential risks is crucial for anyone consuming alcohol, and can inform healthier lifestyle choices and habits.

Marijuana Effects on Behavior

Understanding the effects of marijuana on behavior can shed light on the differences between being drunk and being high, the topic of this article. Notably, marijuana use is associated with alterations in motor performance and cognitive functioning.

Motor Performance Impairments

One of the key behavioral effects of marijuana is its impact on motor performance. Studies reveal that cannabis users often exhibit motor deficits, including slower reaction times, impairments in attention, short-term memory, and motor impulsivity [2].

Furthermore, neuroimaging studies have reported changes in brain networks related to cannabis use, affecting inhibitory control and neural efficiency required in motor adaptation.

Effect Description
Slower reaction times Users may respond to stimuli more slowly than usual.
Impairments in attention Users may find it difficult to focus or maintain attention.
Short-term memory impairments Users may have trouble remembering recent events or information.
Motor impulsivity Users may make hasty or unplanned physical responses.

Cognitive Impairments

Cannabis use also results in cognitive impairments. These include alterations in memory, associative learning, abstraction, and vocabulary. Studies have found impairments in episodic memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, and immediate and delayed recall in cannabis users.

Moreover, marijuana use can potentially increase the risk of schizophrenia, particularly if started at a young age, used frequently, and for a long period. This risk is especially higher in young men, particularly those aged 16 to 25. Once schizophrenia develops, stopping marijuana use does not make the condition or its symptoms disappear [3].

About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana may become addicted, leading to cannabis use disorder. The risk of addiction is higher when marijuana use starts at a young age and with heavier use. For daily users, the odds of addiction can be as high as 1 in 2.

Cognitive Effect Description
Memory impairments Users may have difficulty remembering past events or information.
Associative learning impairments Users may struggle to make connections between related concepts.
Abstraction impairments Users may find it challenging to understand abstract concepts.
Vocabulary impairments Users may have a reduced vocabulary or difficulty recalling words.
Increased risk of schizophrenia Users may develop symptoms of schizophrenia, especially with frequent and long-term use.
Risk of addiction Users may develop a cannabis use disorder, especially with frequent and long-term use.

Understanding these behavioral and cognitive effects of marijuana use can help to provide a clearer picture of the differences between being drunk and being high. It underscores the need for further research and a more nuanced understanding of these substances and their impact on our bodies and minds.

Duration and Onset of Effects

Understanding the onset and duration of effects is vital for anyone consuming substances like alcohol or cannabis. It can help individuals predict the timeline of the impacts and manage their consumption safely and responsibly.

Cannabis Consumption Methods

The method of cannabis consumption can significantly influence the onset and duration of effects. For instance, the effects of cannabis can be felt within seconds to minutes of smoking, vaporizing, or dabbing cannabis, and these effects can last up to 24 hours [4].

However, if consumed through eating or drinking, the effects can take longer to manifest, occurring within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Similarly, the duration of the effects can extend up to 24 hours.

The table below shows the typical onset and duration of effects based on the method of consumption:

Method of Consumption Onset of Effects Duration of Effects
Smoking, Vaporizing, Dabbing Seconds to minutes Up to 24 hours
Eating or Drinking 30 minutes to 2 hours Up to 24 hours

THC Effects and Duration

THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This compound stimulates the brain's pleasure center, leading to feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

The effects of THC typically peak in about 30 minutes and can last between 1-3 hours. However, the onset and duration of the high can vary depending on the method of consumption, such as smoking, vaping, or eating.

Method of Consumption Onset of THC Effects Duration of THC Effects
Smoking, Vaporizing, Dabbing Minutes 1-3 hours
Eating or Drinking 30 minutes to 2 hours Varies

It's crucial to note that the effects of THC can vary from person to person, depending on various factors such as tolerance, consumption method, and the potency of the cannabis strain. Understanding these factors can help individuals make informed decisions about their cannabis use and better anticipate the potential effects.

Risks of Alcohol Consumption

Understanding the potential risks of alcohol consumption is pivotal in making informed decisions about one's health. The risks associated with alcohol use encompass both health hazards related to excessive drinking, as well as dangerous outcomes that can occur as a result of being drunk.

Health Risks of Excessive Drinking

Excessive drinking can lead to a multitude of health problems. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking heavily over time or excessively on a single occasion can damage the heart, leading to problems such as cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The liver, another organ heavily affected by alcohol, can develop a range of complications due to heavy drinking. This includes steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis, all of which are serious conditions that can significantly impact a person's health.

Moreover, the pancreas can produce toxic substances as a result of alcohol consumption, potentially leading to pancreatitis, an inflammation that impairs digestion and causes severe pain.

Lastly, there is a clear link between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. This includes head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Dangerous Outcomes of Being Drunk

Beyond the long-term health risks of excessive drinking, there are immediate dangers associated with being drunk. Alcohol consumption can lead to a decrease in inhibitions and a heightening of emotions, which can result in poor decision-making and risky behavior.

According to Healthline, being drunk can lead to a number of dangerous outcomes. These include seizures, severe dehydration, physical injuries due to accidents or falls, vomiting, and in severe cases, coma or death.

In conclusion, the risks associated with alcohol consumption are significant and diverse, affecting both physical health and personal safety. It's essential for individuals to understand these risks in order to make informed decisions about alcohol use.

Substance Use Motives

Understanding the motives behind substance use is crucial in comprehending the differences between being drunk and being high. These motives often stem from an individual's desire to cope with negative affect symptoms or seek enhancement of certain feelings or experiences.

Coping and Enhancement Motives

Substance use motives, particularly coping motives, mediate the relationship between negative affect and alcohol- and marijuana-related outcomes among college students. This has been observed in studies focusing on dual users of both substances (past 30-day use; not necessarily simultaneous use) and has identified common and substance-specific mediation effects.

Dual users of alcohol and marijuana with negative affect symptoms engage in substance use for similar reasons as single substance users with negative affect symptoms. Interestingly, coping motives were found to mediate the association between depressive, anxiety, stress symptoms, and the consequences of alcohol and marijuana use [5].

Furthermore, stress symptoms were indirectly related to both alcohol and marijuana use quantity via enhancement motives. Depressive and anxiety symptoms were indirectly related to alcohol use quantity via expansion motives. All three negative affect symptoms were indirectly related to both marijuana use quantity and negative consequences via expansion motives [5].

Impact on Negative Affect Symptoms

Dual users endorse differing alcohol and marijuana motives compared to single substance users. Studies have shown that dual users reported higher levels of enhancement and coping motives, greater alcohol use frequency, and greater alcohol impairment than alcohol-only users [5].

In terms of negative affect symptoms, these were indirectly related to both alcohol and marijuana consequences via coping motives. This indicates that higher negative affect was associated with higher coping motives, which were positively associated with consequences for both substances [5].

In conclusion, the motives behind substance use and their impact on negative affect symptoms can provide insight into the differences between being drunk and being high. Understanding these motives can help in developing effective strategies to address substance use and its underlying causes.


[1]: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body

[2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4966282/

[3]: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/marijuana-use-and-its-effects

[4]: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/health-effects/effects.html

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7028486/

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