How to Come Down From a Cannabis High
I don’t use weed, but the one time I did I ended up in an emergency room.
It was after a holiday party and I was certain that when the ambulance came, I would be arrested. Because I’ve watched enough Law and Order, I took it upon myself to record every conversation I had with the paramedics, take time-stamped notes on my phone, and repeatedly ask for a lawyer. (They laughed.)
For more on what to do if you get too high, check out the video below:
If you’ve ever been high, you know that sometimes panic can set in—but all it takes is a little bit of relaxation and distraction to come down from a rough high.
What to Do If You Get Too High
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Eating peppercorns or downing coffee probably won’t help
So you’re super high! That’s okay, friend—I’m here. Before we settle in, let’s get some common myths about highs out of the way. For one, you’ve probably heard about eating lots of peppercorn to curb your high. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a useful solution, according to Dr. Jordan Tishler, CEO of Inhale MD and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“The practical issue if you’re really that stoned and you’ve put peppercorns in your mouth and chew them up so that they’re really burning you, I’m worried that you’ll inhale the fragments and your lungs will shut down,” he said over the phone. “You have a significant risk of a lethal outcome so I would not recommend that.”
Downing coffee or a Red Bull won’t produce the desired effect of sobering up, either. “That actually might make things worse because of the caffeine,” he said. “Caffeine can stimulate more of the hallucinatory effect. There arose this trend of mixing alcohol with Red Bull and that crossed over to cannabis and Red Bull and that produces a different effect than some people like.” In other words, unless you might want to risk feeling even higher, you might want to avoid that espresso shot.
And as for drinking water, yes, it’s great to stay hydrated! But there are no real studies to support that water will get you through a high quicker. As Weed News put it, it might not have any impact at all—but at least it won’t hurt (so drink up).
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CBD isn’t a magic bullet either
Another common theory you might’ve heard: CBD will help save you from the throngs of a bad high. According to Tishler, sadly, this probably has no benefit, either.
“It turns out that normally, cannabis has a fair amount of THC and a tiny little bit of CBD, but that tiny little bit has enough to tame that THC reaction,” he said. “The flaw in the logic is, ‘If little works, then more must work more’ and that’s not true. We actually have studies that show [that] while THC does need a little bit of CBD to behave the way we want it to, CBD does not mitigate the intoxication.”
Yes, you might come across products on the market that claim to get you ‘less high’ and help your weed-related anxiety, but Tishler said these CBD-remedies are largely a gray area with little-to-no regulation.
“I have no idea what to make of them in the sense [that] there’s no published science that shows that these things are valid, and again, in the world of under-regulated product, I tend to worry about what magical ingredients might be in there and whether those things are safe,” he said. “And it’s hard enough worrying about the supply of cannabis, but then to start worrying about completely unproven and unregulated antidotes just freaks me out.”
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Exercise and distractions are generally good
Exercise can’t hurt, according to Tishler, though there isn’t research to prove it. Distractions, however, are the best thing to get you through a bad high, he said. “If the thing that gets an individual distracted is getting on their elliptical, I think that’s a great idea,” he added. “At least it’s relatively harmless, assuming you don’t run out in the street and get hit by a bus, [but] you probably don’t want to go rock-climbing or skydiving or skiing.” Instead of waiting out the high in a daze, maybe try yoga or other low-impact workouts at home, so you’ll hopefully sweat out the panic in peace.
Find a quiet, safe space
Other than hopping on the treadmill, what else can you do to come down from a high? Tishler said it’s as simple as finding a good safe space to avoid spiraling, like a bedroom.
“Get on your bed and think of it as an island, and nothing can happen to you while you’re in this safe space,” he said. “Step two is calling for backup. If you have a significant other or just someone close to you like a roommate who you come and sit with you. And the third step, depending on who that person is and your relationship, is if they can go beyond just sitting quietly and hold your hand—that physical tough is grounding and reassuring. And depending upon what you’ve taken, then hopefully this will wear off pretty quickly.”
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Edibles are generally better for avoiding a bad high
Let’s say you’re about to get high. If you’re trying to avoid panic and anxiety from settling in, Tishler said edibles are generally a better method of getting high. When smoking or vaping, the overall ‘duration’ is generally shorter than that of edibles, but has more ‘peaks’ or potential for panic, he said.
“If you get into an edible, it’s a longer ride but they tend to peak less, and in general, you don’t quite get that kind of panic-inducing terror,” he said. “When I’m using [cannabis] therapeutically for patients, I can take advantage of these differences for certain types of illnesses. For migraines, edibles aren’t a good idea because by the time it kicks in, you’ve been suffering for hours. In those situations, inhalation, which has 10 to 15 minutes time to onset, is a much better approach. On the other hand, for somebody who has 24/7 back pain, you want good, constant duration of relief so those edibles make a lot more sense.”
If it’s your first time getting high (or you’re still an amateur), Tishler generally recommends starting slow, too. “On the medical side, I’d aim to start people who are cannabis-naive at around 5 milligrams, whether it’s an edible that’s specifically 5 milligrams or using a vaporizer to inhale it,” he said. “If you use a 15-20% THC strain, which is what I recommend to my patients, then one puff tends to be in that range of about 3 to 5 mg and that’s a really good place to dip your toes in the water. Physiologically and psychologically, it’s important to get used to this, so [you’re] less likely to freak out.”
So resist the temptation to go all-in when it comes to weed, especially as a beginner. And remember to find your safe space, a friend, and maybe a treadmill when all seems to be crashing down. You’ll be fine, I promise!
This article was originally published in April 2019 and updated on Nov. 30, 2020 with more complete information and links.
I don’t use weed, but the one time I did I ended up in an emergency room.
Too high? How to sober up from weed
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- Ingest black peppercorn
- Add some CBD in the mix
- Stay hydrated, eat more
- Take some ibuprofen
- When life gives you limonene .
- Take a deep breath and relax
- Seek distractions, but easy ones
- Take a shower
Even the most seasoned cannabis enthusiast has a story about that time they overdid it and scrambled to find out how to sober up from weed . Though marijuana has medical and therapeutic uses, including reducing anxiety , smoking copious amounts of potent weed can send a consumer into a tailspin fraught with anxiety and paranoia.
Though marijuana has medical and therapeutic uses, including reducing anxiety, smoking copious amounts of potent weed can send a consumer into a tailspin fraught with anxiety and paranoia. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Researchers aren’t alone in their work to understand how to mitigate any negative side effects of weed. The ever-innovative cannabis community has uncovered some valuable insights about how to come down from a high that gets too intense. While there are no known reports of someone experiencing a fatal marijuana overdose, it is possible to feel uncomfortably high , with euphoria and relaxation replaced by anxiety and paranoia. Not everyone knows how to stop being high.
Unfortunately, smoking yourself sober is not an option. Instead, the first and perhaps not-so-obvious step is to stop smoking if you feel uncomfortable after consuming cannabis. It’s also crucial to be overly cautious when ingesting edibles, as the full effects can take several hours to kick in and tend to pack a powerful punch. If you’re wondering what to do when too high on flower, edibles, or concentrate, here are some quick tips to show you how to come down from a high that gets too intense.
Ingest black peppercorn
That’s right. The same kitchen ingredient used to spice up your food also can simmer down your high. Black peppercorn has demonstrated the ability to provide near-instant relief for those overcome by cannabis-induced paranoia or anxiety. Chew a few whole black peppercorns, grind peppercorn on food, or, very carefully, smell ground pepper.
A 2011 review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that cannabis and black pepper have related chemical traits. Author Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, wrote that terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene found in peppercorn can help “tame the intoxicating effects of THC.” Beta-caryophyllene and THC form a synergistic relationship and bind to the same cannabinoid receptors, creating a calming effect.
Add some CBD in the mix
Decades of research have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, can reduce THC-induced anxiety and paranoia. In a February 1982 study published in Psychopharmacology, researchers examined whether CBD could reduce anxiety from THC. The study concluded that CBD “might be involved in the antagonism of effects between the two cannabinoids.” A more recent study , published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology on Jan. 27, 2013, also found that when CBD was consumed alongside THC, it appeared to lessen the adverse effects of anxiety and paranoia.
Decades of research have shown that CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, can reduce THC-induced anxiety and paranoia. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
More research is needed to reaffirm the synergistic effects of CBD and THC, but integrating some CBD oil or a high-CBD strain into your next smoke session could be an effective remedy for an unwanted buzz.
Stay hydrated, eat more
Here’s an easy one that you should remember no matter how stoned you are: Drink water . Staying hydrated can calm you down after consuming a bit too much herb. Not only will a glass of water help douse cottonmouth, but it also will allow your overly concerned mind to focus on the simple procedure of sipping and swallowing.
Some people also find relief from eating a snack, drinking orange juice, or munching out on the entire contents of the refrigerator. However, be cautious about what kind of juice or drink flavor you choose, because mangoes contain the terpenoid myrcene, which has shown the ability to enhance and prolong the effects of THC.
Take some ibuprofen
A number of common anti-inflammatory drugs, such as the widely used ibuprofen, has been shown to tame marijuana’s buzz. Sobering up by mixing ibuprofen and weed can be an effective, over-the-counter solution for how to kill your high . In a 2013 animal study conducted by researchers from the University of Louisiana’s School of Medicine, the team found that certain types of anti-inflammatory medication appeared to counteract the stoned effect of cannabis and reduce negative effects on cognition.
When life gives you limonene .
Terpenes are the aromatic oils that give each cannabis plant its own distinct smell, flavor, and effects. The same way that CBD and THC combine to create an “entourage effect,” the variety of terpenoids found in cannabis and other plants seem to have a synergistic relationship with the other cannabis compounds. A citrusy terpene called limonene, which is found in the rinds of citrus fruits and in certain strains of cannabis, has demonstrated the ability to reduce anxiety. A 2012 study into this terpene found that it produced anxiety-reducing or “anxiolytic-like effects,” which could translate positively into a treatment for cannabis-induced anxiety.
Take a deep breath and relax
Sometimes all you need to remove a bad high from your headspace is a meditative approach in a comfortable (and, if possible, familiar) setting. If you happen to feel like your heart is racing or feel an anxiety attack coming on, try to relax. Chances are the discomforting feeling will pass in no time. Close your eyes and take deep breaths , remind yourself that everything is going to be fine.
Seek distractions, but easy ones
Go for a walk, put on your favorite music or television show, have a conversation with a stoned companion, anything that will help distract you from the sudden bout with cannabis-induced anxiety. By shifting your attention from how high you are to an enjoyable activity, you’ll probably be able to shed that uncomfortable marijuana high in no time.
By shifting your attention from how high you are to an enjoyable activity, you’ll probably be able to shed that uncomfortable marijuana high in no time. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Take a shower
The soothing, refreshing action of water on your body can calm a too-high high quickly. Think of it as a form of mental hydration, a hygienic way to wash away the ills of too much THC. Even splashing cold water onto your face should help restore your calm, decrease your heart rate, and ease your mind.
And just to make sure your marijuana high doesn’t go overboard in the future, make note of what and how much you consumed, and next time, practice moderation.
Too high? How to sober up from weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Ingest black peppercorn Add some CBD in the mix Stay hydrated, eat