How to Stop a Bad High on Marijuana

clear cannabis

A friend of mine once told me the story of when he smoked weed, and the room he was in wouldn’t stop spinning. He began to have immense feelings of anxiety and paranoia. It got so bad that he started thinking that his eyelids were going to peel off at any moment! He had been on such a bad trip, and he’s certainly not the only one that has experienced that. Most smokers have gone through a bad high at least once through their smoking journey.

Varying factors can cause different people to get a bad high on marijuana. Some smokers are even more prone to bad highs than others. At times, people who are worried about having a bad high may be more likely to experience one owing to the negative state of mind they are in before smoking. Other times, the cause of a bad high may be that the environment the individual is in is too overwhelming or contains too much stimulation. For example, a very noisy and crowded place. Another major cause of bad highs is low-grade marijuana. Smoking low-grade marijuana can even lead to serious health problems for the individual, both physically and mentally.

Bad highs may feel extremely scary, but the good thing is that they typically are not life-threatening. And this is on good authority from Peter Grinspoon, MD, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a board member of the advocacy group Doctors For Cannabis. According to Dr. Grinspoon, “No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose. It’s basically impossible, which is one of the wonderful things about cannabis.”

Girl in crowd

However, our good doctor does note that a bad high can make you end up in the emergency room, and it can be dangerous if you get a full-fledged panic attack. In fact, that is exactly what a bad high is. It is a kind of anxiety or panic attack that you get from smoking marijuana.

Furthermore, Dr. Grinspoon reiterates what we stated earlier—different people get bad highs for different reasons. You may get an anxiety or panic attack from smoking simply because you’re just someone marijuana “doesn’t agree with, or you took too much, or because you’re not used to it, or because it’s a bad setting.” For example, you decide to eat a weed brownie, then all of a sudden, you remember that you have a very important job interview in 2 days. Cue intense stress, which could very easily lead to a bad high.

You’ll notice that a bad high is often accompanied by a racing heart, panicked thoughts, and sweatiness— these are all signs of anxiety too. Your mind is also altered to harbor strange thoughts, hence why my friend started thinking that his eyelids were going to peel off!

Don’t let all this info scare you, though. Because even if you do find yourself, one day, falling into a bad marijuana high, there are a couple of ways to stop it. Alleviating the symptoms of a bad high is really easy, and don’t worry—it doesn’t entail you rushing to the hospital or into an emergency room for medical assistance. Thus, let’s jump into the few ways to find relief when experiencing a bad marijuana high.

1. Relax

Relaxing Boy

To stop a bad high, begin by doing things that you find deeply relaxing. Good examples include painting outdoors, listening to relaxing music, taking a warm bath, deep breathing, yoga, and a new one that has proven to be excellent in abating the symptoms of bad marijuana high—alternate nostril breathing.

2. Try a whiff of pepper

Capsicum

Cannabinoids and terpenoids, such as the terpenes in pepper, share some chemical similarities. This may be one reason why they seem to have some benefit for countering the symptoms of a bad high. Get some fresh peppercorns, grind them up, and take a deep breath. Be careful not to get too close! Stinging eyes and sneezing might distract you from your bad high temporarily, but not in a fun way.

3. Lemonade

Lemon

We all know the proverbial saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It is a saying that is used to encourage people to look on the bright side of things in the face of adversity or difficulty in life—which is technically what a bad high is: difficulty. Solution-wise, literally making lemonade can actually assist in alleviating the symptoms of your bad high.

Limonene is a chemical found in the peels of lemons, other citrus fruits, and in other plants. It is another terpene that may also help with the symptoms of a bad high. So if you’re experiencing one, squeeze and zest a lemon or two and add some sugar or honey and water if desired. Then drink up!

4. Enter a relaxing environment

Relaxing environment

If you are experiencing a bad high and your environment makes you feel anxious or stressed, this will not help your symptoms much. Hence, the best thing to do is create or enter into a more relaxing environment. Find a place where you feel more relaxed, like your bedroom or a quiet space outdoors.

If you are in an environment in which you have less control, such as another person’s house, try listening to some chill or soothing music with headphones, bundling up in a blanket, cuddling or stroking a pet, or calling a friend you trust and asking them for a long hug.

How to Avoid a Bad High in the Future. After you make it through the frightful episode of a bad high, you’ll never ever want to experience it again, trust us. And if you never have, you’ll still never want to have that experience; trust us again. So how do you avoid bad highs in the future?

Well, the most obvious thing to do is to lay off the marijuana. However, some people do have concrete reasons why they use marijuana, such as to obtain relief from stress, sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, physical pain, depression, and anxiety. So instead of totally skipping the cannabis, here are a couple of other things that you can do to prevent the experience of bad marijuana high.

1. Try using less marijuana at a time

Grabbing weed

Consuming lesser amounts of marijuana at a time may lower your risk of experiencing a bad high in the future. Begin by using less than you’d normally use in one sitting, and then give it at least 30 minutes to an hour to kick in. If you notice that you don’t get any symptoms of a bad high, you can move on to experiment with different dosages, slowly increasing until you find a dose that gives the effects that you do want without causing a bad high or any other negative symptoms.

2. Try using marijuana with a higher CBD content

Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects. In addition, research suggests that CBD-rich cannabis may have antipsychotic effects. The paranoia that you experience when having a bad high is considered a psychotic symptom.

Products with higher ratios of CBD to THC are becoming increasingly common. You can find edibles, tinctures, and even flowers that contain anywhere from a 1:1 to a 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC. Some people also report that strains with pine, citrus, or peppery scent (remember those terpenes we mentioned pepper contains?) can help boost relaxing effects and make a bad high less likely. However, this isn’t backed by any scientific evidence.

Marijuana Plant

3. Seek therapy.

Some evidence suggests people with an existing sensitivity to paranoia and anxiety have a higher chance of experiencing a bad high when using marijuana. Paranoia is the feeling that you’re in harm’s way, such as the feeling that people are acting against you, even though there’s no proof that it is true. Paranoia can overwhelm you to the point where it becomes difficult to interact with others. You might avoid talking to friends, going to work, or even leaving your house. A therapist can help you explore these feelings and other potential contributing factors.

It is also wise to consider working with a therapist for anxiety symptoms. Cannabis can temporarily help relieve anxiety for some people, but it does not address the underlying causes. A therapist can offer more support by helping you identify contributing factors and teaching you coping methods to help you manage anxiety symptoms at the moment. A bad high can feel a little unsettling at best and downright terrifying at worst. Try to keep calm and remind yourself that it is just a reaction you are having, and it is going to wear off.

If you notice particularly intense thoughts or panic attacks that persist even when you stop using marijuana, talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional as soon as possible. Lastly, know that marijuana is not for everyone. If it doesn’t make you feel good, there’s probably no real reason you have to use it. Instead of forcing it, find another way to relax or have fun.

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