Understanding the Dangers of Polydrug Use

Learn more about the potential consequences of polydrug use.

Learn more about the dangers of polydrug use and how to teach your students about them.  Thanks to drug and alcohol prevention programs, teens and young adults typically have some idea of how consuming alcohol or using drugs can impact their bodies and reflexes. However, knowledge about the dangers of polydrug use — drinking alcohol and using marijuana (also known as cannabis) at the same time — is often less widespread.

To help inform your audience about the risks that polydrug use can present, let’s take a look at how simultaneous drug and alcohol use can impact the body and the dangers that come along with it.

How polydrug use impacts the body

Not as many resources have been devoted to studying the effects of polydrug use as there have been for drugs and alcohol used on their own. However, more studies are beginning to be released showing how simultaneous alcohol and drug use can impact and even harm our brains and bodies.

Research published in Clinical Chemistry showed that any level of alcohol consumption increased the absorption of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana products by priming the enzymes in the liver.

Another study from the National Institutes of Health investigated driving performance and how it’s impacted by the effects of alcohol and THC. The study found that while “[alcohol] significantly impaired critical tracking, divided attention, and stop-signal performance… combined effects of THC and alcohol on divided attention were bigger than those by alcohol alone.”

While marijuana and alcohol use each present risks, combined, they can amp up those adverse effects and create a more dangerous situation.

Higher risk of addiction

If your educational program targets teens, this is one of the dangers of polydrug use that you’ll want to stress as part of your teaching. Teenagers’ brains are still developing, making them more susceptible to addiction. Introducing two substances at once further increases that risk.

Increased side effects

While marijuana and alcohol can lead to a variety of negative side effects on their own, when combined, the dangers of polydrug use can become even more severe and harmful. Side effects of using the two simultaneously can include heart problems, seizures, liver damage, respiratory failure, brain damage, and even death.

Using cannabis and alcohol simultaneously can also drain the brain of the chemical compounds that help us feel calm and happy, leading to behavioral issues such as anxiety and depression.

Increased risk of overdosing

Since using marijuana and alcohol at the same time can increase the effects of each substance, the dangers of polydrug use also include a higher chance of overdosing. Polydrug use can also reduce the likelihood that medical interventions following an overdose will be successful since emergency responders and medical personnel would have to treat the effects of both substances.

Teaching about the dangers of polydrug use

To help your students better understand the dangers of polydrug use, consider incorporating hands-on tools into your educational program, such as Fatal Vision ® Polydrug [Alcohol & Marijuana] Goggles. These goggles help demonstrate the impairments experienced by people under the influence of alcohol and marijuana/THC/cannabis and how those effects can impact their reflexes and abilities.

To learn more about our polydrug educational tools and how to use them in your drug or alcohol prevention program, visit our online store or contact our team today.