CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a hemp-derived molecule that’s become wildly popular for its calming, therapeutic benefits. And if you’ve already hopped on the CBD train, you might notice that it helps with your anxiety, sleep, and overall well-being.
But what if you want to grab a couple of drinks with friends after taking your daily dose of CBD? Is it safe? What are the disadvantages of taking CBD with alcohol, and are there any potential benefits?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is It Like To Take CBD?
CBD binds to your body’s endocannabinoid receptors, which can influence your memory, mood, and even your appetite.1 And evidence shows that this molecule may offer some surprising health benefits, from easing anxiety to alleviating certain types of pain.2
Many people use CBD to boost their overall well-being or manage specific problems. It’s also generally safe and well-tolerated. When you take it, you might feel slightly calmer or sleepier than usual, but no worries—CBD alone can’t get you high (although some products do contain small amounts of THC).
What Are the Main Effects of Alcohol?
Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs in the world, and unlike CBD, it is psychoactive. It’s a depressant that boosts euphoria while impairing judgment and motor control. You can usually tell if someone’s drunk when they’re slurring their words, stumbling, or being impulsive.
You might feel more social, less anxious, and sleepier after a few drinks. But too much alcohol can also have acute physical effects, such as lowering blood pressure and slowing down your breathing.3
Read more: Drinking Levels Defined
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How Do CBD and Alcohol Interact?
So, can you take CBD with alcohol? What are the effects? Since they’re both depressants, these two substances can reduce stress and promote sleepiness. In other words, they both generally work to slow down your body and mind. But because they’re similar in some ways, their effects could amplify each other.
One of the only studies that looked into these interactions was conducted in 1979. The researchers found that CBD and alcohol, but not CBD by itself, significantly impaired the participants’ motor skills and perceptions. They also found that the group who took CBD with alcohol had a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) than those who only drank alcohol. But BAC aside, the researchers noted that both groups appeared similarly intoxicated.4
CBD and alcohol can both lower blood pressure.5 And if your blood pressure drops too much, this can pose some health risks. Beyond that, one study on mice found that large amounts of CBD may cause liver toxicity, although the doses were much higher than humans typically take.6
Truth be told, CBD and alcohol interactions haven’t been studied enough to make any solid conclusions just yet. But CBD has been shown to bring both negative and positive effects. To be on the safe side, it’s best to space out CBD and alcohol until more studies are available.
Can CBD Make Drinking Less Risky?
You might’ve heard that CBD can blunt the effects of drinking, but what does the research say? The 1979 study we mentioned earlier showed that CBD reduced BAC in the experimental group. However, there hasn’t been much research on this effect since then.
Beyond that, early evidence7 notes that CBD may be protective against some of alcohol’s harmful effects—such as liver and brain damage—and it’s also been shown to reduce nausea.8 In theory, this means CBD could calm down the nausea that comes with too much booze. However, these potential positives aren’t enough to say whether mixing the two is safe.
Can CBD Treat Alcoholism?
In the addiction space, there’s been talk of CBD being able to help with alcoholism. One review from 2019 notes that CBD reduced alcohol intake—along with anxiety, relapse, and the motivation to drink—in animal studies.9 While this is promising, more research is needed to say whether CBD can help treat alcohol use disorder.
On top of that, some people who quit drinking might find that CBD soothes stress, nervousness, insomnia, and other symptoms of withdrawal. Still, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, and it’s best to work with a doctor when detoxing or stopping a heavy drinking habit.
How Long After Taking CBD Oil Can I Drink Alcohol?
To avoid any overlapping effects, it’s key to take your CBD well before (or after) drinking. But you might be wondering, “How long after taking CBD oil can I drink alcohol?”
CBD’s effects can last for up to six hours. And because we don’t know for sure how CBD interacts with alcohol, it’s best to stay on the safe side and wait at least that long before drinking. For instance, you could take your CBD in the morning and wait until the evening before you have a drink. Or, you could avoid alcohol on the nights when you want to take CBD for sleep and relaxation.
The Takeaway on the Safety of CBD and Alcohol
If you’ve ever wondered, “Can you mix CBD and alcohol?” kudos to you for staying cautious and informed. CBD is generally safe, but it could potentially amplify the effects of booze. That’s because it acts as a depressant—making you sleepier, reducing anxiety, and even lowering your blood pressure.
At the same time, some research has also seen some possible benefits. For instance, CBD has been able to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed in animal studies. And other research even points to its protective effects against alcohol. But so far, there haven’t been enough large studies on people to make any guidelines (or conclusions) about the safety of alcohol and CBD.
If you’ve been struggling with alcohol use and are looking for some extra support, Ria Health can help. Ria is a smartphone-based program that provides you with comprehensive support, ranging from coaching meetings to anti-craving prescriptions—all from the palm of your hand. Learn more or get started today.