With cannabis and hemp popularity and social acceptance skyrocketing, more people are trying the herb than ever before. Given that at least 55% of Americans take at least one prescription daily, and at least 52% of Americans have used cannabis, there is bound to be “polypharmacy,” or side effects caused by multiple drugs interacting. If you take other drugs, whether over-the-counter or prescription, it may not be a good idea to throw cannabis into the mix. While it’s impossible to list all potential interactions, here are a few major ones that you should know.
Cannabis and Painkillers
Outside of standard over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, prescription painkillers and cannabis aren’t a good mix. This includes opioids and opiates, such as morphine and oxycodone. As a matter of fact, this group of drugs comprises the majority of the twenty-four “major” interactions with cannabis as defined by WebMD.
Since cannabis is often seen as a benign drug, many people do not realize just how dangerous combining it with these classes of drugs can be. Also including narcotics contained in cough medicine, like codeine, combining these classes of drugs with large amounts of cannabis can make it difficult to breathe. The combination may even cause you to fall into a coma and can be deadly.
Cannabis and Anti-Anxiety Medications
Benzodiazepines, a group of medications generally used for anxiety disorders, are taken by millions of Americans. This class of drugs includes Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin. While it’s highly unlikely to die of an overdose if you only take a benzodiazepine, this group of drugs is often present in cocktails resulting in deadly overdoses.
Combining benzodiazepines and cannabis, the two synergistically boost each other’s side effect profile, meaning that you might get vertigo, feel very dizzy, get very tired, or become very confused.
Cannabis and Allergy Medications
Most allergy medications are antihistamines available over the counter. Even though these are not federally controlled drugs, they still present a moderate risk when mixed with cannabis. You can expect the same potential complications as with mixing benzodiazepines and cannabis.
Cannabis and Antidepressants
There are many different generations of antidepressants, and some antipsychotics are used as antidepressants, so it’s difficult to fully generalize among all these classes of drugs. In general, using cannabis with other drugs that are psychotropic in nature is a bad idea. If you’re prescribed psychotropic medication, especially if it is for a condition involving psychosis, cannabis will likely worsen the condition at a minimum.
Cannabis and Alcohol
Though not regarded as a drug by many, alcohol usually doesn’t mix well with cannabis. Since alcohol acts similarly to benzodiazepines, the side effects can be similar.
Mixing Multiple Other Drugs and Cannabis
When you use multiple drugs together, there’s no way to predict what will happen. Cannabis, especially in extract form, is a powerful drug in itself. And while you can technically use some drugs safely with cannabis, using it with opioids is never safe, using it with benzodiazepines, antihistamines, or alcohol is questionable at best, and using psychotropic drugs on top of cannabis could be a recipe for disaster. It’s always best to consult a medical professional before mixing cannabis with other drugs.