You may have heard this phrase tossed around before, but what does “cross-faded” actually mean?
The term “cross-faded” is frequently used to describe how it feels to have consumed cannabis and alcohol at the same time. Consuming both substances simultaneously most often leads to their effects being felt at the same time. Some individuals might find this feeling pleasant, but there are significant risks to consuming multiple intoxicating substances at the same time.
In this article, we’ll explain what it feels like to be cross-faded and offer suggestions for how to deal with being cross-faded if your experience becomes unpleasant.
As you might expect, being cross-faded feels like a combination of the typical effects caused by consuming alcohol and cannabis. What you might not expect is that combining these two substances can result in an even greater feeling of intoxication than either substance might on its own in the same dose.
Reports from individuals who have experienced cross-fading, such as those available in this 2023 study that surveyed students at Arizona State University, for example, indicate that the most frequent feeling associated with being cross-faded is a more intense state of perceived intoxication. This finding aligns with earlier studies that demonstrate how consuming alcohol and cannabis together can actually increase the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) absorbed into your blood.
It’s worth noting the emphasis on subjective consumer experiences in this study, as well as the way respondents didn’t always agree if being cross-faded felt like a more intense state of drunkenness or a more intense cannabis high. The subjects also disagreed on how consuming cannabis impacted, for example, how or whether they felt hungover the next day.
Less commonly reported feelings highlighted in the 2023 study include generally “heightened” sensations, as well as “feeling ‘out of body’ and ‘disconnected from reality,’” in a manner that aligns with how some individuals experience over-intoxication from cannabis alone.
Consuming alcohol and cannabis together causes you to risk experiencing the worst aspects of both substances, and many individuals see being cross-faded as undesirable — though there is some variation between demographic groups.
A 2018 survey examining how young people talk and feel about simultaneous alcohol and cannabis use illustrates this well with a finding in which 60% of respondents reported considering the idea of being cross-faded undesirable.
Another study published in 2020 offers a more robust exploration of the risks associated with simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use. In the study’s review of the current literature, the authors cite previous studies that found that individuals who consume both substances at the same time are likely to consume both in a higher volume and face “greater alcohol-related consequences and increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents.”
The 2020 study itself found “that co-use of alcohol and marijuana predicted greater intoxication than use of either substance alone, and more substance use-related consequences than marijuana use alone.”
Interestingly, the authors also note that “separately, the combination of marijuana with alcohol versus alcohol alone did not increase the number of negative consequences experienced, whereas the combination of alcohol with marijuana versus marijuana alone did.”
If you do choose to consume alcohol and cannabis together, there are a few symptoms of being cross-faded that should act as signals to slow down or take a break from consumption.
Short-term symptoms of being cross-faded often reflect those associated with overconsumption of alcohol and can include the following:
Because alcohol can increase the concentration of cannabinoids absorbed into your bloodstream, drinking in moderation while also consuming cannabis can put you at greater risk of cannabis over-intoxication, or “greening out,” especially in novice cannabis consumers.
Greening out is an unpleasant experience that can include chills, sweating, nausea, dizziness, increased heart rate, and a feeling of disorientation.
If you’re with someone who has passed out after being cross-faded — and especially if there is a risk of alcohol poisoning — the best move you can make is to call 911 and request help from a medical professional. The risks of drinking too much, especially when combined with consuming cannabis, should not be underestimated.
How long being cross-faded lasts will vary widely from person to person depending on the rate at which their body can process alcohol and cannabis.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an individual’s ability to process alcohol “is controlled by genetic factors, such as variations in the enzymes that break down alcohol, and environmental factors, such as the amount of alcohol an individual consumes and his or her overall nutrition.”
The duration of the cannabis-related effects of being cross-faded depends not only on genetic factors related to a person’s unique endocannabinoid system but also on the chosen consumption method. If you, for example, drink after taking an edible, you’ll likely be cross-faded for longer than if you smoked a joint after drinking.
There isn’t necessarily a specific number of drinks you’d need to have (in addition to your cannabis consumption) that would designate you as officially cross-faded.
According to the 2018 language survey mentioned above, you don’t even necessarily need to be intoxicated to be cross-faded; 43% of those surveyed said the term referred to consuming alcohol and cannabis simultaneously, while only 25% specified that a cross-faded individual is both drunk and high.
In short, this means that whether you’re “crossed” or not depends entirely on how you’re feeling rather than some objective metric. If you do choose to consume alcohol and cannabis at the same time, be sure to pay attention to how you’re feeling and take things slow to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a negative outcome.
If you’re cross-faded and having an unpleasant experience, there isn’t any single trick that will instantly sober you up. There are, however, ways to help decrease the negative impact of being cross-faded. First, you should take stock of your symptoms. If you’re at risk of passing out, recruit the help of a friend, sit or lie down somewhere comfortable, and slowly sip on a glass of water.
If you don’t feel like you’re going to pass out but do feel dizzy and nauseous (“the spins”), you should still let another person know about your condition and do your best to find a quiet place to rest until you feel a bit better. One folk remedy for the spins is to lie down on a flat surface, such as a bed, and place one foot on the floor. This trick hasn’t been scientifically tested but anecdotal reports suggest it may lessen the spins.
Unfortunately, if you’re cross-faded and vomiting, you’ll likely just have to wait until your body is finished throwing up. Get yourself a bucket or go to a bathroom and settle in.
Your priority should be staying hydrated by sipping water or a drink specifically designed to help your body hydrate quickly, such as Pedialyte. If possible, ask someone else to stay with you or, at least, check in on you periodically. Should you pass out while vomiting, there is a chance that you’ll choke on your vomit. This can have a fatal result.
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