Cannabis is a wonderful medicine for many conditions. From depression and anxiety, to pain, spasms, nausea, and insomnia, many illnesses respond well to marijuana treatment. However, as you know, Cannabis is also a mild intoxicant. Most of the time, this is a positive experience, helping to control patients’ symptoms and generally promoting well-being. But occasionally, depending on the dose and the route of marijuana administration, you can get too much of a good thing. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve accidentally taken more Cannabis than you’re comfortable with, try following the six simple relaxation tips below.
Why it’s Easy to Overdose on Medical Marijuana Edibles and Concentrates
For obvious reasons, it’s important to make a distinction between overdose and fatal overdose. When it comes to using marijuana, the former is a possibility; the latter is not. Accidental overdose is particularly easy with edibles, which have delayed effects (and oftentimes, inaccurate labeling), and concentrates, where small amount can be very potent.
Remember: you cannot kill yourself with a Cannabis overdose. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself miserable for a few hours, so it’s wise to exercise some common-sense precautions. For example, be sure to carefully read the labels on edibles. They can contain very small doses to extremely large doses in the same ordinary-looking cookie, brownie, gummi, and so forth. In fact, there is a now-famous case of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who incautiously ate an entire medicated candy bar (each square of which was intended to be a single dose) and spent a miserable night alone in her hotel room.
Despite taking precautions, occasionally minor overdoses may happen. So, other than being conservative with dosage and reading informational labels really carefully, what can you actually do if it comes to pass that you get too much? There are a few tips that Cannabis culture recommends, and a few that I’ll add from experience.
6 Easy Relaxation Tips for When You’ve Taken Too Much Cannabis or THC
Indulge in some chocolate. People swear that consuming a bit of chocolate if you’re unpleasantly high will reduce the high or how uncomfortable you feel. I’m not sure this is real, but it may be worth a try. Even if it’s minimally effective, at the very least you’ll still get to enjoy a yummy chocolate bar. (Just remember to mind your blood glucose if you have diabetes.)
Chew on peppercorns. Though it may sound bizarre, this one actually seems to have more basis in fact. Peppercorns contain the terpene myrcene, which is thought to reduce the effectiveness of THC, thus lessening the intoxicated feeling. To use them, take just a few into your mouth and chew them slowly. Be careful not to inhale any fragments. You should swallow them, or, if that’s too painful, simply spit them out. This may be a case of pepper being unpleasant enough to distract you from the intoxication, or it may be that terpene I mentioned. (You can read more about terpenes in my article on how to get rid of the smell of marijuana.)
Set a soothing scene. This is what I have found to be most effective. If you are feeling overly intoxicated, first find a quiet, safe place to sit. Your bed is a great place, as is your sofa or recliner. Gently remind yourself that you’re OK, that nothing can or will hurt you, and that you are in a safe place. Often, over-intoxication is accompanied by vivid images and racing thoughts. In small amounts, these are the sensations that recreational users are seeking, but may be too intense for less experienced patients. Keeping your eyes open and focusing your attention on familiar objects can help ground your feelings.
Find your people. If you have a loved one, friend, or supportive neighbor, call them and ask them to come sit with you. Often just having a trusted person nearby is vastly helpful. If appropriate, hold their hand or rest your head on their shoulder. This simple act can be beneficial to grounding you, and even turning a bad experience into a positive one. In the absence of another person, you can try watching television. Again, focusing outside of yourself can be helpful, but be sure to pick a soothing, non-violent program. A light comedy, nature documentary, or even a children’s movie might be ideal. You can also try streaming meditation videos on YouTube.
Be careful with music. Music can evoke strong memories. If you have something to listen to that’s soothing, great – but avoid favorites from your past that might provoke strong nostalgia, leading to a panic attack. You might enjoy streaming ambient radio instead of playing familiar songs which carry too much emotional weight. I think earbuds can be particularly claustrophobia-inducing, so you might prefer using speakers to put the music “outside of” yourself.
Stay warm and cozy. Avoid caffeine, which can accelerate vivid imagery and even your heart rate. Talk to yourself out loud. Wrap yourself up in a plush bathrobe and a soft pair of socks or slippers. Keep yourself occupied with a simple game, like Solitaire or a puzzle.
In the end, you will be fine. But the best strategy, of course, is to avoid such a situation. Take your medicine in low doses. Don’t rush to take more if you haven’t gotten the desired effect. Wait a good 10 minutes between inhalations of medicine, or up to 4 hours if you’ve ingested (eaten) your medicine, before even considering another dose.
Above all, just remember – and keep reminding yourself – that nothing can hurt you, that you haven’t damaged your brain or body, and that this state will eventually pass. The time it takes for the high to dissipate may be as short as half an hour, or as long as several hours, depending on the dose and the route of administration. In the meantime, try the tips above to make yourself as comfortable as possible. (And don’t forget to stay hydrated!)
Talk to a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Doctor If You Want to Learn More About the Benefits of Medical Cannabis
Medical marijuana has helped countless patients manage their symptoms and enjoy a greater degree of physical comfort in their everyday lives. If you’re living with chronic pain, chronic insomnia, cancer, arthritis, anxiety, ALS, depression, MS, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, or are undergoing chemotherapy, medical Cannabis could be right for you. Call Dr. Tishler at (617) 477-8886 to start discussing your medical needs and the benefits of marijuana in a confidential consultation.