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HELP! A Science-Based Approach to Being Too HighAugust 20, 2018
Your heart is racing and so are your thoughts. You can feel sweat permeating every pore in your skin, your breathing is shallow, and you feel like you’re going to die. Whether you took too many rips off a dab rig or you didn’t properly dose an edible, excessive cannabis consumption can cause anxiety and discomfort in some users, especially cannabis novices. The effects can vary from one person to the next, but symptoms may be similar to having a panic attack in some cannabis consumers - perhaps even causing a panic attack for certain people.
Cannabis generally helps people feel calm and relaxed, but everyone’s body chemistry is different. Getting too stoned too quickly can quickly ruin a good time, even if you’re used to consuming cannabis. If you’ve ever been “uncomfortably high,” we’ve got the answers you need and the scientific reasons why your body may respond to these at-home treatments. Put down the pipe, put on some mellow tunes, and read on to learn how to turn your night around and feel better fast.
Have A Snack
If you smoke weed, you’re inevitably going to get hungry. Cannabis has an interesting effect on the stomach and your brain’s reward-seeking pathways. When you ingest cannabis and subsequently eat food, your brain releases a flood of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes a sense of calmness and euphoria. Some studies suggest that even if you aren’t stoned, eating food can have a direct effect on the symptoms of anxiety! Because of this, some people who have accidentally gotten too high may find some relief by having a tasty snack.
* Regulate your snacking. If you stuff your face, you’ll probably have some unpleasant indigestion and/or bloating later, which could ruin your night in other ways.
* Try seeking out your favorite comfort foods, especially those that brought you a lot of satisfaction when you were younger.
* Don’t try to cook food if you’re too high. Order delivery, raid the snack cabinet, or try taking a walk to your favorite pizza place or corner store - which leads into our next recommendation...
Go For A Walk
Studies have shown that physical exercise can help reduce anxiety for many people. Obviously that doesn’t mean you should lace up your running shoes and jog a 5K. But simple exercise like going for a walk can help release endorphins, the feel-good hormones your body craves. This can have a direct effect on the panic you may be feeling from overindulging in cannabis.
* If you live near a park, try walking there. Being outdoors often makes people feel calmer, and if you have pleasant memories in the park that may allow you to relax even more.
* If you aren’t near any parks, you can go for a walk around your neighborhood. Just the act of moving around and getting fresh air can help.
* Sometimes when people feel too high, they may feel a great deal of social anxiety. Going for a walk is a great way of temporarily removing yourself from an uncomfortable setting and allowing yourself some alone time to reset.
Some people who have consumed too much cannabis experience varying degrees of dehydration. That doesn’t necessarily mean that cannabis causes dehydration for everyone, but in the midst of a panic attack-like state it may be difficult to remember to drink enough water.
Dehydration can cause you to feel a spike of anxiety, which may cause your overwhelming feelings of cannabis intoxication feel even more intense. If you feel like you’ve consumed too much of an edible or otherwise overindulged, be sure to stay hydrated to keep yourself from feeling worse.
* Avoid alcohol, as it can make you more dehydrated and simultaneously exaggerate how stoned you feel.
* Drink plenty of water, but don’t forget about electrolytes. Drinking too much water can cause other health complications by throwing your salt/water balance off, so try balancing your water intake with a sports drink or a salty snack.
* If you live in a hot climate or you’ve recently exerted yourself physically, it’s even more important to stay hydrated. Some experts recommend checking the color of your urine; if it’s on the dark side, you may be dehydrated.
Use Terpenes To Your Benefit
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that give certain plants their distinct odor and flavor. Terpenes are also present in cannabis, and studies suggest that terpenes may interact with your endocannabinoid system to deliver therapeutic effects. These compounds will not cause you to feel stoned, making them a great option for some individuals trying to come down from an uncomfortable cannabis high.
* Eat a few pinches of black pepper. Black pepper contains the terpene β-Caryophyllene (also found in cannabis), which interacts with your CB2 cannabinoid receptors without causing intoxication. Studies suggest that β-Caryophyllene may have an anxiety-relieving effect on some individuals.
* Try using essential oils. Lavender oil contains the terpene linalool, which has been shown to have anxiety-reducing properties in some studies.
THC is the cannabinoid that makes you feel stoned. If you’re currently trying to calm down after getting too high, THC is also the cannabinoid that’s causing you problems. But not every cannabinoid in weed makes you feel intoxicated; cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, meaning it offers many of the benefits of medicinal cannabis without any buzzy side effects.
* Studies have shown that CBD has promising anti-anxiety effects and will not make you feel stoned.
* Additional studies show that CBD can actually counteract the effects of THC - which is great news if you’re feeling anxious after getting too high.
Do Something That Relaxes You
If you’re feeling uncomfortably high, it’s important that you try and relax. The intense effects of over-consuming THC may leave you feeling anxious and unwell until the high starts to wear off. In the meantime, doing something that relaxes you may help you cope with the excessive high and prevent anxiety from getting the best of you.
* Practice deep breathing techniques. If you’re feeling anxious, your body may automatically take short, shallow breaths. Close your eyes and focus on taking long, slow inhalations through the nose, feeling your stomach expand, and taking long, slow exhalations.
* Spend time with a close friend. If you’re by yourself, call up your best bud and ask if they can come over. It’s best to be in a comfortable environment, so if you feel safe at home it may be best to have people come to you instead of going to someone else’s house.
* Watch your favorite movie or put on some relaxing music. Steer clear of anything that might cause further stress - in other words, save that new horror film or psychological thriller for another time.
* Get comfy. If you’re at home, put on your pajamas and veg out on the couch. Try laying down and taking a nap if you feel like you could fall asleep. If you’re able to take a two hour snooze, you’ll probably feel a lot better when you wake up.
Assess Whether You Have Any Medical Needs
There has never been a fatal cannabis overdose, so even though your anxious mind may be thinking “This is the end,” you’re actually just really stoned. Those effects will wear off over time - about two to four hours for many people. Try to reassure yourself that you’ll be fine once the high wears off, but if you have a legitimate medical need, don’t be afraid to get help.
* If your doctor has prescribed you a benzodiazepine medication (like Xanax or Valium) to combat anxiety, you may want to consider taking a low dose of that medication to help you calm down.
* Some individuals with cardiac problems may experience an elevated heart rate when consuming cannabis. If this is the case, it’s best to avoid using cannabis at all.
* You can seek medical help if you feel that you need it, but ER doctors won’t be able to make you feel less high. There is no “weed antidote,” meaning nurses will just keep an eye on you while you wait it out and come down from your high. They will only be able to help you if you’re experiencing an actual medical emergency, such as a cardiac problem.
Hang in there, take care of your body’s needs, and try to relax. The effects will wear off soon, and you’ll no doubt remember to be more careful with your dosing next time!
- BioMed PhD talks about how to combat cannabis anxiety
- THC + alcohol = bad news - Leafly
- Deep breathing techniques from Mayo Clinic
- Anxiety and eating - nature.com
- Neuropeptide Y (eating) as anxiolytic
- Dehydration as a cause of anxiety - Cambridge
- Excercise as an anxiety reducer
- terpene info
- Black pepper's terpenes
- peer-reviewed literature on beta-caryophyllene, peper, CB2 receptors, and anxiety treatment from NCBI
- Beta caryophyllene terpenes
- Linalool as an anxiety reducer and sedative
- anxiolytic effects of linalool
- CBD to counteract THC
- CBD as an anxiety reducer
- More information on CBD as an anxiety treatment
- Dehydration and cannabis overconsumption
- dehydration info from Mayo clinic