Cross Faded: Understanding the Meaning, Symptoms and Risks

cross faded signs
By Andrew Ward Updated June 10th

As cannabis becomes more accessible and acceptable, so does the risk of people mixing it with other substances, like alcohol. Intoxication from mixing pot and booze is commonly called “crossfaded.” 

This article will dive into crossfaded symptoms, risks and what you can do if you find yourself in such a position. 

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What Does “Cross Faded” Mean?

“Crossfaded” is a term used to describe the overlapping effect of mixing cannabis with alcohol. Or, simply put, it's when you get too high and too drunk at the same time. On paper, the phenomenon may seem fun, efficient, and humorous. And in brief moments, it may well be. But, overall, it isn't a great experience and can have  steep consequences.

In the beginning, getting crossfaded might be what a lot of consumers are looking for. The effects of alcohol and cannabis increase when mixed together–particularly applying to THC levels in the blood. 

Few studies have examined the symptoms, causes, effects, or otherwise brought on by being crossfaded. Research from over two decades ago highlighted the effect it had on three male study groups. The study, which analyzed the first 90 minutes of the effect, noted that: 

  • THC levels increased
  • Subjects reported increased feelings of euphoria 

Researchers noted that the two effects likely cause many to get crossfaded. The study did not elaborate on any impacts after the first 90 minutes. 

Cross Faded Symptoms

The good times peak not long after those first 90 or so minutes. Then, the unpleasant and often unpredictable side effects come rolling in. The most common symptoms of becoming cross faded are: 

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation 

Additional symptoms include: 

  • Chills
  • Decreased verbal or motor skills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting

What Does Crossfading Feel Like, and How Long Does it Last?

crossfaded meaning

The combined symptoms can create an effect often called “greening out,” which is brought on by using too much cannabis. Since alcohol intensifies the effects of THC, using both enhances the risk. Plus, there are still the risks associated with drinking too much alcohol. 

THC affects brain and body receptors, while alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. When mixed together, your body will likely feel substantial effects, from impaired cognition to decreased motor skills. 

Not long after the THC levels increase, negative feelings, like confusion and the inability to focus come rolling in. Even if a person doesn't feel disoriented, they are almost certainly drunk and high. It is strongly advised that no one operates any vehicles or heavy machinery when consuming one of those substances. That advice is amplified significantly for anyone who combines the two.

Additionally, the day after, this mix can produce a nasty hangover, bringing out the worst in each substance. With all of the symptoms and day-after effects of crossfading, it’s advised that all consumers avoid getting into this situation. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint how long the effect lasts. With smoked cannabis, highs last one to three hours on average. Edibles increase that period up to eight hours. Drunkenness typically lasts six hours. Regardless, each substance affects people differently based on numerous factors, from body composition to how much we've eaten that day. With various factors in play, you could feel the miscellaneous effects of a crossfade for four to 24 hours. 

What are the Risks of Crossfading?

crossfaded symptoms

The effects of being crossfaded can be felt in the moment, the day after, and potentially in the long term. Additional research is needed to better understand the risk factors associated with being crossfaded. But, we already have some troubling statistics to ponder – with cross faded individuals being twice as likely to get behind the wheel after consuming. 

While we await further research, it’s important to examine the effects of heavy use of either substance.

Marijuana addiction or use disorder numbers vary, with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting 3 in 10 people to have the disorder. Other analysis has suggested smaller figures, but no conclusions have been made. Simultaneously, the long-term health risks of heavy cannabis use are still being debated and analyzed through various clinical studies. While we await further analysis of cannabis, there appear to be no reports or cautions surrounding death by excessive cannabis use. 

The effects of heavy alcohol consumption and abuse are well documented. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 American adults binge drink, with 25% doing so weekly. Excessive drinking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in America. Those with alcohol abuse disorder die an average of 26 years before other Americans. 

Anyone with pre-existing conditions should use caution about using one or both substances. Consult with a medical professional before using either, especially if considering getting crossfaded. 

What to Do If You are Crossfaded

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to stop a crossfade early or sober up. Once you’re on the horse, there’s no getting off this ride. Though, some of the following may help a bit:

  • Drink Water: There are very few times when drinking water won’t help you. This is not one of those occasions. Anyone who has drunk alcohol before has probably heard that water helps keep you hydrated and hopefully away from a hangover. Some people think drinking water could help with cannabis effects, like dry mouth, but that isn't exactly the case. But that's for another article. 
  • Eat: Food is believed to help absorb alcohol and cannabis in the body. Just don’t overdo it. You can easily fall into munchie territory and possibly get nauseous. That can create a nasty feeling in your digestive system and in the bathroom.
  • Relax or Sleep It Off: Getting into a comfortable place should greatly improve your anxiety levels. If you can, try to sleep and ride out the situation. Like water, there are few scenarios where you won’t feel better after a nap. That is, unless you wake up with a hangover. Drink some water before hitting the hay. 
  • Try CBD: CBD’s effects can offset or dull those produced by THC. CBD won’t do anything for your alcohol intoxication. But, it should help lessen the psychoactivity in your mind that could be clashing with the disorientation brought on by the booze. 
  • Call Fireside ProjectAlmost every cannabis consumer has felt too intoxicated at times, and not everyone has a built-in support system at home to help them process their experience with medical marijuana if they feel anxious or overwhelmed. Fireside Project's Psychedelic Peer Support Line provides help to individuals during and after a psychedelic experience. And through their Equity Project, callers who are military veterans or who identify as BIPOC or transgender are able to connect with a support line volunteer who shares that aspect of their identity.
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Cross-Fading FAQ

How many drinks does it take to be considered “crossfaded”?

There's no set answer. Everyone’s body is distinct. Each person needs a different amount of cannabis or alcohol to become high or drunk. The same applies to cross fading, which is why you must be careful with how much you consume, especially if you mix the two. 

How do I stop vomiting when crossfaded?

Unfortunately, you’ll have to throw up until your body says stop. Drinking small sips of water every few minutes may help. Laying on cool bathroom tiles can help, but that's purely anecdotal. 

How long before it passes?

The effects are difficult to estimate because cannabis lasts for various time frames depending on numerous factors, from plant profile potency to your body size. Alcohol has similar variables, with its effects often lasting around six hours. 

What should I avoid doing?

Don't mix your substances. Choose one and stick with it for the occasion/evening. If you insist on combining the two, monitor your dosage carefully, don't overconsume and drink lots of water. 

Can you become crossfaded from CBD?

You may feel some body effects, but you shouldn’t feel much, if any, effects on your mind. This should help reduce adverse effects such as disorientation and decreased motor skills. 

Can you get crossfaded from THC-infused alcoholic beverages?

Absolutely, which is why many are cautious or concerned about such products hitting the market. It is also why most, if not all, legal cannabis states ban alcohol sales at consumption lounges. Use a high degree of caution when mixing the two substances. 

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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