Drug and Alcohol

Being High: How to Recognize the Signs of Being High On Weed … or Alcohol

Being High vs Being Drunk: What's the Difference?

Being high and being drunk are very different, but also have some things in common. Learn more about these altered states in our blog

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

October 21, 2023

What are they on?

If you’ve ever been worried about the health of a loved one you think is abusing cannabis and/or abusing alcohol, it’s a question you’ve likely asked yourself.

Knowing about a person's signs helps you offer support, encourage responsible behavior, and even spot danger. There are many signs that can reveal a person's level of intoxication, from physical manifestations to behavioral changes. Understanding these symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, mood fluctuations, or peculiar odors, can help ensure personal safety and encourage healthy lifestyle choices,

Being High: What Does Intoxication Really Mean?

Intoxication refers to the state of being under the influence of substances that alter the normal functioning of the body and mind. Consuming alcohol, weed, drugs, or other mind-altering substances, can affect a person in various ways. These substances influence neurotransmitters and mental function by interacting with the central nervous system. The reaction of these substances depends on person to person and the level of consumption.

Intoxication results in small physical and psychological changes, poor reflexes, delayed coordination, blurred vision, fast heart rate, and blood pressure fluctuations. Psychological changes such as mood swings, memory issues, and behavior changes.

Being High: What Is Crossfading?

Many people combine alcohol with cannabis. This practice is common, and it's given a name: crossfading. It can lead to increased intoxication, but what exactly is crossfading?

Crossfading refers to the consumption of alcohol and cannabis simultaneously or within close proximity to each other. Both substances have psychoactive effects on the body, meaning they can alter mood, perception, and behavior.

When someone consumes alcohol and cannabis together, the compounds in each substance interact with each other in the body. This interaction can lead to more intense and unpredictable effects compared to consuming either substance individually.

One reason for this is that both alcohol and cannabis can impair cognitive function. When combined, they can further impair judgment, coordination, and decision-making. This increased impairment can make it difficult to assess one's level of intoxication, leading to potentially risky or dangerous behaviors.

In addition, crossfading can also lead to an increased risk of negative physical side effects. For example, both alcohol and cannabis can cause dehydration and changes in blood pressure. When consumed together, these effects can be amplified and may increase the likelihood of experiencing dizziness, nausea, or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Furthermore, crossfading can also have long-term effects on the body. Research suggests that combining alcohol and cannabis may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as liver and esophageal cancer.

It's important to note that crossfading affects individuals differently and the level of intoxication can vary based on factors like weight, tolerance, and amount consumed.

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Being High: The Surprising Differences Between Being High and Being Drunk

While being drunk and high on weed both include drunkenness, some key differences exist between the two states:

Being High on Weed

Cannabinoids found in weed, often known as marijuana, interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. A weed high can cause time distortion, euphoria, altered sensory perception, relaxation, and increased appetite. Additionally, they can have dry lips, bloodshot eyes, and memory loss.

Being Drunk

Alcohol, on the other hand, has a depressive effect on the central nervous system. Alcohol intoxication can cause various symptoms, including slurred speech, slower reaction times, impaired judgment, disinhibition, and emotional disturbances.

Additionally, nausea, vomiting, and hangover symptoms can result from alcohol intoxication.

Being High: How “High” and “Drunk” Are Different

There are noticeable signs of being high that are different from being drunk.

Physical Signs of Being High vs Being Drunk

Here’s how the physical signs differ:

Dilated Pupils

Alcohol and drugs like weed can cause dilated pupils, which are enlarged pupils. For example, marijuana's effect on the sympathetic nervous system might result in dilated pupils. Alcohol, on the other hand, has a depressive effect on the central nervous system and can narrow the pupil.

Constricted pupils can indicate alcohol drunkenness, while dilated or huge pupils can indicate marijuana use. Changes in pupil size can reveal a person's level of intoxication.

Impaired Coordination

One physical symptom of being high on weed or being drunk share is it makes people clumsy. These chemicals can disrupt brain-body communication, impairing motor abilities, and coordination. Unsteady movements, stumbling, clumsiness, or difficulties keeping balance may occur when someone is under the influence. Impaired coordination is frequently observed and can be a prominent indicator of intoxication.

Bloodshot Eyes

Blood red or bloodshot eyes can be an indication of weed and/or alcohol consumption. When these substances are consumed, blood vessels in the eyes widen, resulting in redness and a bloodshot look. This happens because drugs and alcohol can cause blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased blood flow to the eyes.

Bloodshot eyes are frequently a good indicator of drunkenness.

Slurred Speech

Impaired speech, indicated as slurring, slower speaking, or difficulty starting words, is a common symptom of intoxication. Both weed and alcohol can impact the central nervous system, resulting in poor muscle control and coordination, particularly those involved in speech production.

Alcohol's depressive effects or the impact of cannabis on brain activity might cause slurred speech. It is a visible indicator of someone's state of intoxication.

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Mental Signs of Being High or Drunk

Here’s how weed and alcohol affect a person’s brain and behavior:

Paranoia and Anxiety

In certain people, weed and alcohol might cause paranoia and anxiety. These substances' changed brain chemistry might heighten sensitivity, enhance self-consciousness, and generate false anxieties or worries. A sense of being watched, judged, or in imminent danger may accompany paranoia.

Anxiety symptoms include racing thoughts, agitation, elevated heart rate, and a general sense of unease. It is crucial to note that everyone will not feel these effects, and individual reactions may differ.

Distorted Perception

Substances like weed and alcohol can change one's view of reality. Perception is the way we perceive and experience our surroundings through our senses. Individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs may perceive their surroundings differently. They may have a skewed sense of depth, changed visual or auditory perceptions, and an exaggerated sense of time. Colors, shapes, and noises may appear brighter or more distorted. These perceptual shifts can contribute to a "heightened" or altered reality sensation.

Unusual Laughter

Excessive or inappropriate laughter is a symptom of being high on marijuana or inebriated with alcohol. These chemicals can affect the brain's reward and pleasure centers, resulting in increased feelings of enjoyment. As a result, people may find themselves smiling more often, even in settings that would not normally elicit such a reaction. This unrestrained, persistent, or unconnected to the immediate context laughter might be a clear behavioral symptom of drunkenness.

Mood Swings

High weed or alcohol intoxication can cause visible mood changes. These drugs can influence neurotransmitters in the brain, changing emotions and mood swings. Individuals may experience euphoria, relaxation, and heightened happiness, followed by impatience, restlessness, or despair. These mood swings are sometimes more pronounced at the peak effects of the substances and can vary from person to person.

Knowing these behavioral and psychological indicators can make it easier to determine whether a person is drunk or inebriated by alcohol or marijuana. But it's crucial to treat these indications with caution and avoid drawing conclusions based only on these findings. The expression and severity of these effects might vary depending on several variables, including tolerance, individual differences, and other underlying disorders.

Additional Symptoms of Being High And/Or Being Drunk

Here are a few more signs of being high or being drunk:


The presence of distinct smells is one of the additional signs that someone is under the influence of alcohol or weed. The smell of marijuana is distinct and powerful and might remain on someone's breath, clothes, or possessions. Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, or spirits can leave a perceptible aftertaste on a person's breath. These smells might indicate recent substance use.

It's crucial to remember that since there are many different ways to consume alcohol and substances that may not leave a strong odor, the absence of odor does not always indicate sobriety.

Social Behavior Changes

The way a person behaves and interacts with others can be significantly impacted by substance usage. Someone's social behavior may vary if they are high on marijuana or drunk on booze. This may show more talkativeness and friendliness, lowered inhibitions, or a drive to seek out social situations.

On the other hand, some people may experience mood swings, withdraw, or become silent, which can impact how they interact with others. Communication styles, emotional outbursts, and general social dynamics can all be affected by substance use, and those around them may notice these changes.

Impaired Judgment

An individual's ability to make decisions and use good judgment can be greatly hampered by intoxication. Alcohol and drugs like marijuana can impact the parts of the brain that control rational thought and judgment.

People who are intoxicated may make hasty or unsafe decisions that they would not ordinarily make when sober. This may entail engaging in hazardous activities, putting one's safety in jeopardy, or making unwise choices regarding money, relationships, or legal issues. Awareness of the potential hazards and repercussions of substance use requires an awareness of impaired judgment.

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Being High: The Effects and Risks of Intoxication

Getting high, whether from marijuana or alcohol, comes with several risks and potential drawbacks. It's critical to be aware of these hazards to prioritize personal safety and make wise decisions. The following are some of the main dangers of intoxication:

  • Impaired Judgment & Decision Making: Decision-making and judgment skills are weakened while intoxicated. This may result in unsafe behavior, poor decisions, or putting oneself in difficult situations.

  • Physical Harm: The danger of accidents and injuries rises due to the severe impairment of motor abilities, coordination, and reaction time caused by intoxication. This covers slips, trips, burns, and other accidents that could cause physical harm.

  • Legal Consequences: Legal issues may result from using drugs or alcohol in places that are prohibited or against the law. Charges for possession, DUI, public intoxication, or disorderly conduct fall under this category. Fines, probation, license suspension, or even jail are all possible legal repercussions.

  • Health Risks: Ongoing substance abuse can harm one's physical well-being. Abuse of alcohol can result in immune system deterioration, cardiovascular illness, digestive disorders, and liver damage. Long-term marijuana usage may affect respiratory health and function and raise the chance of developing specific mental health issues.

Being High: How to Help Someone in an Altered State

Meeting someone who is high or drunk might be difficult but treating them with compassion and sensitivity is crucial. Here are some pointers on how to assist a drunk person:

Put your personal security and well-being first. Remove yourself from the area if it seems hazardous or if the individual starts acting violently or aggressively, and if necessary, call the police for assistance.

Approach with non-judgment and empathy. Keep a tolerant and understanding attitude. A person may be vulnerable or in distress; remember that substance abuse and intoxication are complex concerns.

Communicate clearly and calmly: speak in a soothing voice. Avoid escalating the situation by maintaining a neutral tone. Establishing trust and ensuring your objectives are known are both possible with clear communication.

Create a safe environment. If possible, direct the individual to a secure area to relax and heal. Eliminate any dangers or triggers that might exist. Offer non-alcoholic drinks or water to keep them hydrated.

Keep an eye on their condition. Pay attention to how they feel physically and mentally. Do not hesitate to seek professional medical help if their condition worsens or if they show signs of extreme distress or a medical emergency.

Avoid enabling behaviors: Refraining from enabling or endorsing risky substance use behaviors while offering support is crucial. Encourage open communication regarding drug use, show care for their well-being, and discuss the advantages of professional assistance.

Support encourages the person to make appropriate decisions, such as refraining from using drugs or alcohol further, abstaining from operating a vehicle or other machinery, and, if required, looking for a sober friend or alternate modes of transportation.

Never forget the importance of respecting the person's autonomy and willingness to change. Some people might not be prepared or eager to ask for assistance immediately. Your assistance and direction, on the other hand, may help them transform for the better and advance their general well-being.

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Being High: How to Tell if Someone’s Under the Influence of Weed

A few typical clues can be used to tell if someone is high on weed. Bloodshot or red eyes are one of the most apparent symptoms because marijuana can widen the blood vessels in the eyes. Additionally, you might observe a shift in their demeanor, such as a relaxed or lazy appearance. Another typical indicator is a changed sense of time, where the person may appear slow or have trouble keeping track of time.

The "munchies," or increased hunger, are another warning indication. Additionally, they could have poor coordination and have trouble performing straightforward tasks or movements. Because these indications might differ from person to person and may also be influenced by other factors, it is crucial to address the situation with compassion and understanding.

Understanding the signs of being high on weed or alcohol allows us to be more informed and supportive in our interactions with individuals who may be experiencing intoxication. We can foster a safer and more compassionate environment by recognizing the physical, behavioral, and psychological indicators.

Through knowledge, empathy, and support, we can positively impact the lives of those struggling with substance use.

Being High All the Time Is a Sign of a Serious Problem. The Edge Treatment Center Can Help

Being high or drunk occasionally might not be a sign that there’s a substance abuse problem.

Being high or drunk all of the time is.

This can signify that a person has developed a dependence on alcohol or cannabis and is using them as coping mechanisms for underlying issues.

The Edge Treatment Center specializes in treating substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our team of experts provides personalized treatment plans to help individuals overcome addiction and regain control of their lives.

Treatment at The Edge includes therapy, support groups, medication-assisted treatment, and holistic approaches to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center for help. Remember, being high all the time is not normal and can have serious consequences on your health and well-being. Let us help you take the first step towards a happier and healthier life. Recovery is possible, and we are here to support you every step of the way.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.