So you smoked a little bit too much weed - and you went from calm to uncomfortable and panicky in a big hurry. We've been there.
Here's the great news - you'll be fine. Promise.
In fact you'll be feeling happy and relaxed again in no time. But let's look at some of the common symptoms of over consumption, and then we'll look at ways to counteract your unpleasant experience (and a few preventative measures as a bonus).
At a Glance
- It's impossible to overdose on marijuana!
- Normal symptoms of being way too high are usually paranoia, anxiety, rapid heart rate, cottonmouth, dizziness, confusion, shakiness, or (in rare occasions) vomiting.
- Quick methods to relax and come down: distract yourself, meditation or breathing exercises, have a snack, counteract the effects with CBD, chew or smell black peppercorns, or seek a medical professional.
- Prevent this from ever happening again by carefully selecting strains, eating a meal beforehand, controlling your dosage, and controlling the temperature with a vaporizer.
Side note: While we're quite experienced with cannabis use - we're not doctors. So when in doubt, seek a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only.
You Can't Overdose!
That's right, there is no such thing as overdosing with marijuana - but, you can absolutely take too much. There is a key difference here.
The word "overdosing" drums up visions of panic and being rushed to the nearest hospital. In reality, consuming too much leads to a somewhat uncomfortable experience, lasting no more than a few hours (perhaps longer if you've consumed edibles). There's no acute danger to be found here. Science has ruled out any dangers to over consumption, and it's been provenphysiologically impossible to overdose.
Unlike opiods, marijuana only affects cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are not linked to areas controlling respiration. This is why taking too many pain killers can cause a person to stop breathing. (source)
Signs You Took Too Much
Paranoia or Anxiety
A common side-effect for new cannabis patients with low tolerance is bouts of slight paranoia or anxiety. This is also a good reason to be patient while you fine-tune your dosing to prevent over-consumption. Allowing your brain and body to slowly become accustomed to THC and CBD (cannabidiol - the non-psychoactive component of cannabis) will prevent shocking your cannabinoid receptors in your body (causing an unpleasant experience).
Also note - if you've been recently experiencing anxiousness or underlying stress in your daily life, cannabis is said to be at risk of amplifying emotions. Your state of mind while consuming cannabis can have a lot to do with the effects.
Dry mouth is the most common side effect (no matter what form of consumption is used), and can be even more prevalent in high doses. Simply put, the glands that produce saliva are blocked as a side effect of THC, causing a mean case of the "pasties". (source)
Rapid Heart Rate
There's several possible culprits at play here. One factor may just be anxiety based, and you've let some panic sink in. The brain is a powerful tool that can work against you in times of stress. We recommend trying some breathing exercises, yoga, going for a walk, or distracting yourself to calm your nerves.
Secondly, studies by the IDMU have shown THC will often lead to an increased heart rate:
"One of the most consistent effects of cannabis intoxication is an increased heart rate[i]...However, THC also acts as a smooth-muscle relaxant, relaxing the walls of the arteries, which can result in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow to the tissues."
Finally, check your strain - Sativa strains are known to be more energetic and can induce feelings of anxiety.
Cannabis is known to have an effect on blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you skipped a meal before hitting the bong you may notice some unpleasant symptoms, often times this can be quelled by eating a meal an hour before smoking, and staying well hydrated. But if it's too late for that try sipping on a sugary drink or having a snack, stay seated in one position and try not to stand up or move too fast until the dizziness subsides.
This can also be associated with low tolerance levels, and you just need to control your dosage to a more comfortable level.
Vomitting, Abdominal Pain
While cannabis is often used to reduce nausea, in rare cases a very high dose can sometimes have the opposite effect. Not much is known about why a small percentage of people will vomit after consuming too much, but several theories exist:
One possibility is it's your body's reaction to smoke irritation and heavy coughing, leading to dry heaving. Another theory from an anonymous medical worker is that CB1 receptors in the area of the brain that are responsible for nausea or vomiting are usually controlled with cannabis, but may be violently triggered in a response to a high dose. This can also be associated with mixing marijuana use with alcohol or other drugs.
Meanwhile, veteran smokers just chalk this occurrence up as getting "too high", and to take it as lesson.
In some cases, long term use (in very high doses) can lead to a condition known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). Symptoms include vomitting, extreme abdominal pain and nausea. Again, there are a lot of unknowns about CHS, but treatment is simply taking a hot shower, remain hydrated, or seek medical help.
How To Come Back To Earth
Remind Yourself It Will Pass
The mind over matter method. Not that we are talking straight up denial, but remember how powerful your brain is, and how powerful you are! Knowing that you can and will get through any ill or negative feelings is a huge help when getting through it and gives you a light at the end of the tunnel to look towards. Even the most intense highs will begin to taper off after a few hours, and you might find the comedown to be much more enjoyable.
Most people will tell you not to panic, but when you're in the middle panicking that's difficult to do! Our recommendation: distract yourself. Time will fly by and you'll wonder what you were ever worried about.
- Watch funny cat videos on YouTube.
- Listen to an in depth podcast or audio book.
- Go for a walk and get some fresh air.
- Interact with a friend and have them ask you random questions.
Cannabis is known to cause a drop in blood sugar, and if you skipped a meal before hitting the bong you may notice some immediate effects, such as: chills, dizziness, sickness, or feeling weak. (source)
You may just need to sip on a sugary drink, or make yourself an easy snack such as fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Not to mention it serves as a distraction and helps you reconnect with your body as you come down from an intense high.
Reduce Anxiety with Breathing Exercises
The good ol’ tried and true methods should never be overlooked. Shallow 'chest' breathing is often associated with feelings of anxiousness and panic, while a simple deep abdominal breathing technique (also used for meditation) can induce feelings of calmness and tranquility. Trust me, this works in any stressful situation. (source)
Here's the surefire way to calm your state of mind: Use a classic 5/5/5 technique (5 second inhale, hold, and exhale), and repeat the process 3 times.
- Sit upright, back straight.
- Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and nothing else.
- Slowly inhale through the nose, while counting for 5 seconds. Feel your abdomen expand.
- Hold the breath for 5 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through the mouth, again counting for 5 seconds.
- Repeat two more times
Counteract the Effects of THC with CBD
CBD (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana) can be used on its own effectively to relieve pain, tension, and it does in fact help with feelings of anxiety. It's been shown to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC by diminishing the high, and reducing those alarming "racy" feelings.
Also consider selecting strains rich with CBD, which will help strike a balance between the anxiousness from over consumption, and create a far more relaxed and less intense experience.
Remember to consult with your doctor or medical professional to determine if CBD is right for you and how to properly dose (never mix with other medications).
Chew on Some Black Peppercorns... No, Really.
Chewing or just smelling black peppercorns can tame uncomfortable highs with almost immediate effects. Apparantly this method has existed for many years, but just recently gained attention from the scientific community.
A 2011 study by the British Pharmacological Society: "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects" found black peppers create an "entourage effect" with other terpenes found in cannabis. More specifically, the terpene Caryophyllene, when consumed or by smelling, could potentially be shown to relieve anxiety and depression. Even one quick smell can give you immediate relief!
See a Doctor
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this option. Knowing that you're in safe hands, you may find being in the presence of medical professionals more calming. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that everything's going to be okay. They're trained to help patients suffering from panic attacks, whether drug induced or otherwise.
Preventing Too-Intense Highs
Take A Small Amount And Wait
This is just about knowing your limits. And we've totally been there: the community joint keeps making its rounds and inevitable ends up back in your hands. Not to be outdone you keep taking a few puffs here and there - when suddenly you've gone too far.
Take it slow, have some patience. If it's a new strain we recommend easing into it by taking one puff and waiting 10 to 20 minutes. Take a low milligram edible and wait a few hours (especially if you ate a big meal). And avoid things like concentrates.
THC and CBD content can have a lot to do with the type of high you experience, but so can the cannabinoid profile that makes up your strain. Indicas and Sativas will indicate the type of experience you may encounter, and those prone to anxiety are encouraged to stay away from Sativas.
Going deeper, strain selection and experimentation can go along away. The best method here is to do a little research of your own, and thoroughly explore strains that work with your specific needs. Also, Strains rich in CBD have been shown to reduce the heady, "racy" feelings, especially with low-tolerance users.
Edibles Often Lead to Mistakes
Oh, the edibles and medibles! Cannabis-infused food has been an exploding trend for a while, even reaching 5-star restaurants and highly respected chefs. While these talented individuals are creating amazing flavours with all of the different strains and ingredients they can - and there is a plethora - using edibles as a way to medicate can be complicated.
Ingesting cannabis takes fine tuning and patience because it takes THC 1 to 6 hours to be at peak concentration levels in your body and it will continue to work in your system for up to 20 or 30 hours.
So, during your experimentation it may be quite unpredictable when to expect any medical, therapeutic or side-effects. It also requires a fat soluble to be ingested and effective or it will not be well absorbed into the bloodstream.
It probably seems like an easy solution; be patient. This patience can run out quite quickly, especially when you begin to gain a tolerance for your herb. Not many of us are willing to wait 6 hours to see if their edible will have any effect and can easily end up over-consuming out of impatience.
Use a Vaporizer to Control Temperatures
Marijuana and technology meet in perfect harmony to create dry herb vaporizers. Not only are they convenient and healthier, they provide temperature control - which also translates to "high control". Cannabis is made of several compounds (including THC and CBD) that all have different boiling points, allowing for true customization by adjusting the temperature.
Simply put, the lower the temperature setting, the less high you'll feel. Begin at 330°F and work your way up (to a maximum of 420°F), this allows you to feel the results before deciding how high to go.
Don't Skip That Meal
As discussed above, skipping a meal before smoking can lead to some unpleasant symptoms. Especially with a drop in blood sugar and blood pressure. The easy solution: eat a meal an hour before consuming, not only does this reduce the need for munchies, but it makes the experience much more enjoyable.
Don't Mix Alcohol
The classic party mistake. After a few beers this seems like a great idea but leads to someone being lost in space for 3 hours, or throwing up in the bathroom. Keep in mind that mixing alcohol and weed affects everyone differently, so just use cuation. Or learn what mixing alcohol and weed do to your mind.