What Are The Differences Between Being Drunk and Being High

What Are The Differences Between Being Drunk and Being High

Explore what are the differences between being drunk and being high, from cognitive effects to societal views.

Understanding Intoxication

When discussing the differences between being drunk and being high, we need to begin by understanding the effects of alcohol and cannabis on the body. The impact of these substances and how they are absorbed can help explain the unique experiences of intoxication they create.

Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, affecting nearly every organ system in the body. Its effects on the brain are particularly swift, with the alcohol reaching the brain within about five minutes of being absorbed into the bloodstream. This leads to euphoric effects within 10 to 15 minutes.

In the early stages of drinking, the brain releases more dopamine, the "feel good" chemical. This provides temporary relief from negative emotions and induces increased confidence, sociability, relaxation, and elation.

However, alcohol is a depressant that slows down your body's vital functions. It can cause immediate and long-term health effects ranging from hangovers to liver disease [2].

Effects of Cannabis on the Body

Unlike alcohol, marijuana is absorbed more slowly and has less of a physical impact on the body. The main ingredient in marijuana, THC, is a psychoactive compound that can produce a wide range of effects, including relaxation and altered senses [2].

Although marijuana is less likely to cause dangerous overdose scenarios, its use is not without risk. Long-term marijuana use can affect learning, memory, and attention. However, research suggests its long-term impacts are less severe than alcohol.

In conclusion, both alcohol and marijuana affect the body and mind, albeit in different ways. Understanding these differences is crucial in making informed decisions about substance use, considering both the immediate effects and potential long-term consequences.

Read about: Tinctures vs Edibles Marijuana: A Comprehensive Comparison

Cognitive Impacts of Alcohol and Cannabis

Understanding the cognitive impacts of substance use is critical when considering the differences between being drunk and being high. Both alcohol and cannabis can have significant effects on cognitive functions, but these effects can vary based on factors such as the quantity used, the frequency of use, and the user's age.

Alcohol's Influence on Cognitive Functions

Alcohol use, particularly during adolescence, is associated with poorer cognitive functioning. This includes deficits in learning, psychomotor speed, attention, executive functioning, and impulsivity [3]. Adolescent alcohol use is also linked to accelerated decreases in gray matter and attenuated increases in white matter volume, as well as aberrant neural activity during tasks related to executive functioning, attentional control, and reward sensitivity.

Adolescent-specific brain developments may predispose young people to be particularly vulnerable to the potentially serious and long-lasting alcohol-related consequences. Neurotoxin exposure, particularly alcohol use, during adolescence can affect healthy brain development, with even minor changes in neurodevelopmental trajectories affecting a range of cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

Furthermore, adolescent alcohol use could set the stage for cognitive problems into adulthood, conferring functional consequences throughout life. Prospective longitudinal neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and neurophysiological studies have identified cognitive and neural consequences directly related to initiation and escalation of adolescent alcohol use.

Cannabis's Influence on Cognitive Functions

Cannabis use can also have significant impacts on cognitive functions. These include executive functions such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, decision-making, memory, and emotional control. The severity of these deficits depends on factors such as the quantity, recency, age of onset, and duration of marijuana use.

Cannabis-related impairment in executive functions can make it difficult for individuals to adhere to treatment, follow medical advice, and experience successful outcomes. Furthermore, these deficits can hinder an individual's ability to learn and apply the skills required for successful recovery, increasing the risk of relapse [4].

Acute cannabis use can affect cognitive and motor functions, but there is debate about the short-term and long-term duration of these deficits. Traditional neuropsychological assessment methods suggest that deficits resolve after approximately 28 days of abstinence, while neuroimaging studies indicate more lasting effects on cognition and brain functioning [4].

Cannabis use at an early age, particularly before the age of 17, is associated with significant impairments in executive functioning, including abstract reasoning, verbal fluency, and verbal learning and memory [4].

In summary, both alcohol and cannabis can have significant impacts on cognitive functioning, with potentially long-lasting effects. This highlights the importance of understanding and considering these impacts in discussions about substance use.

Read about: Marijuana Addiction Statistics

Comparing Risks: Drunk vs High

When comparing the risks of being drunk and being high, it's crucial to consider how each substance affects tasks such as driving and the overall health implications of their consumption.

Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol vs Cannabis

Alcohol and cannabis both impair driving-related skills, but the extent of impairment varies. For instance, the effects of cannabis vary more between individuals than alcohol due to factors such as tolerance, smoking technique, and absorption of THC NCBI. On the other hand, alcohol impairs complex tasks that require conscious control, reducing the perceived negative consequences of risk-taking, thereby increasing risky behavior.

Interestingly, cannabis users often perceive their driving as impaired and tend to be more cautious, while alcohol users tend to underestimate their impairment. The impairment from cannabis is more pronounced in highly automatic driving functions, while alcohol impairs complex tasks that require conscious control NCBI.

Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to effectively compensate for impairment, resulting in impairment even at doses that would be insignificant for either drug alone NCBI. The risk of driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis is greater than the risk of driving under the influence of either alone NCBI.

Health Risks: Alcohol vs Cannabis

The health risks associated with alcohol and cannabis differ significantly. Alcohol consumption affects the brain rapidly, leading to euphoric effects within 10 to 15 minutes. The early stages of drinking release more dopamine, the "feel good" chemical, providing temporary relief from negative emotions and inducing increased confidence, sociability, relaxation, and elation Discover Magazine.

Alcohol is linked to a higher risk of accidents, injuries, and violence, whereas marijuana has not been consistently linked to these issues and may have a lesser impact on aggression and violence Healthline. However, it is important to remember that both substances come with potential health risks, and their effects can vary greatly depending on the individual, the amount consumed, and the frequency of use.

Societal Perception and Legalities

As society evolves, so do its views on substances like alcohol and cannabis. Public opinion, legal implications, and societal acceptance vary greatly when comparing these two substances.

Societal Views on Alcohol vs Cannabis

According to a recent Gallup poll, 75% of Americans believe that alcohol consumption negatively affects society, while 49% believe that cannabis use has a positive societal impact. This shift in perception can be linked to several factors, including the growing awareness of the health risks associated with alcohol and the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

The rise of the sober-curious movement, endorsed by celebrities like Bella Hadid, Blake Lively, and Katy Perry, has contributed to a growing aversion to drinking. This movement promotes non-alcoholic beverage brands and sober social lifestyles focused on health over hedonism. In contrast, some individuals are adopting a "Cali-sober" lifestyle, where they eliminate alcohol but continue to consume other substances like cannabis for health and wellness reasons.

Legal Consequences of Alcohol vs Cannabis Use

The legal consequences of being caught with alcohol versus marijuana vary widely. Alcohol is generally legal for adults to purchase and consume in most regions, while marijuana's legality varies. In some places, marijuana is completely legal; in others, it's allowed for medical use; and in some, it's entirely prohibited.

Substance Legal Status
Alcohol Legal for adults in most regions
Marijuana Varies by region

However, the legal landscape is continually changing, especially with the growing acceptance of cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Despite these changes, it's important to consider the health implications when deciding between alcohol and cannabis use. Alcohol is tied to about 95,000 deaths annually in the United States, mostly due to health conditions like liver disease, cancer, and overdoses, while marijuana cannot cause a fatal overdose.

Understanding the societal views and legal consequences of both alcohol and cannabis use can help individuals make informed decisions about their substance use. It's essential to stay updated with the latest research and legal changes to ensure responsible and safe use of these substances.

Demographic Differences in Substance Use

Examining the differences between being drunk and being high involves looking into how these states affect various demographics. Here, we focus on the gender differences in alcohol and cannabis use, as well as the effects of adolescent exposure to these substances.

Gender Differences in Alcohol and Cannabis Use

Research shows that there are significant gender differences in the use of alcohol and cannabis. Male adolescents have a higher rate of alcohol and cannabis use compared to female adolescents. However, the impact of these substances on male and female adolescents can differ substantially.

Specifically, if alcohol use begins in early adolescence, females may experience more pronounced impairment in working memory compared to males. This suggests that the cognitive consequences of alcohol use may be more severe for females than males when usage begins at a young age.

Adolescent Exposure to Alcohol and Cannabis

The effects of alcohol and cannabis on adolescents can be profound, and early exposure to these substances can have long-lasting impacts on neurocognitive development. According to studies, adolescent alcohol use is associated with poorer cognitive functioning. This includes learning, psychomotor speed, attention, executive functioning, and impulsivity. It is also connected to accelerated decreases in gray matter and attenuated increases in white matter volume, along with aberrant neural activity during executive functioning, attentional control, and reward sensitivity tasks.

These findings underscore the vulnerability of adolescents to the potentially serious and long-lasting consequences of alcohol use, given the specific brain developments that occur during this stage of life.

In conclusion, the demographic differences in substance use highlight the need for prevention strategies that consider these variances. Improving understanding of these differences can lead to more effective interventions and policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and cannabis use, especially among vulnerable groups such as adolescents.

The Changing Landscape of Substance Use

As society's understanding of the effects of substance use evolves, so too does the approach to consumption. One of the significant trends marking this shift is the growing sober-curious movement and the rise of the Cali-sober lifestyle.

The Growing Sober-Curious Movement

The sober-curious movement is gaining traction among individuals who are exploring the benefits of reducing or eliminating alcohol from their lifestyles. This growing aversion to drinking has been fueled, in part, by celebrities like Bella Hadid, Blake Lively, and Katy Perry, who endorse non-alcoholic beverage brands and promote sober social lifestyles focused on health over hedonism. This movement is not about total abstinence, but rather an open-minded approach to sober living, focusing on mindfulness and well-being. As a result, it can attract those who are curious about the benefits of a sober lifestyle but are not ready or interested in complete sobriety.

Read about: Sober Curious Movement: A New Perspective

The Rise of the Cali-Sober Lifestyle

On the other hand, the Cali-sober lifestyle has emerged as a new trend in substance use. This lifestyle involves abstaining from alcohol but continuing to consume other substances, such as cannabis, for health and wellness reasons. The term "Cali-sober" originated in California, a state known for its progressive stance on cannabis use. Proponents of this lifestyle argue that cannabis offers several health benefits without the negative effects associated with alcohol. However, it's important to note that while cannabis is legal in some states, it remains illegal at the federal level [1].

These trends reflect a changing societal attitude towards substance use, with an increasing emphasis on wellness and conscious consumption. As research continues to shed light on the differences between being drunk and being high, it's likely that these trends will continue to evolve in response. It's important for individuals to make informed decisions about substance use, taking into account their personal health and the laws of their state and country.


[1]: https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/are-the-effects-of-cannabis-and-alcohol-in-the-body-the-same

[2]: https://www.healthline.com/health/weed-vs-alcohol

[3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7183385/

[4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037578/

[5]: https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/substance-use/is-cannabis-safer-or-healthier-than-alcohol

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7154290/

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