Even the most seasoned smoker can go a little overboard with the THC now and again. Those who are new to medicinal-cannabis may find themselves overwhelmed with anxiety just anticipating the possibility of getting "too high." I always recommend my clients start low and slow with their dosing to find that sweet spot with optimum effects without the not-so-fun feelings that can come on when overmedicated. Such feelings may include paranoia, anxiety, and confusion. Blood pressure may rise and heart rate may increase, further setting in panic. Fortunately, there are quite a few easily available responses one can apply when in such a state, and even just knowing that these techniques are available can sometimes be enough to calm a mind, be it yours or someone you are caring for. Depending on the terpene and cannabinoid profile of the cannabis, the mode of consumption, and the dose, the experience can last anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, with effects often lingering a bit longer. Understanding terpenes, cannabinoids, and their various effects can help when deciding mode and dose to help avoid these situations, but as I said, it happens to the most experienced of us.
So, what to do when the toast is burnt?
Shift your attention. Reel it on in. If you are able to observe that you are uncomfortably overmedicated, perhaps you are able to observe that those feelings are separate from yourself. If accidentally over-focused in a way that leads to anxiety and paranoia, acknowledge the intrusive thoughts for what they are - thoughts - and allow them to be there without becoming consumed by them. Turn your attention gently and kindly away from them toward a simple task or experience. Ask yourself what you need. Maybe it's a cool shower or a warm bath. It could be the sights, smells, and sounds around you on a walk outside. A few calming breaths, a guided meditation, or even a favorite episode of a funny TV show can help you ease out of the there or then and back to the here and now. Hydrate and rest. Water, tea, or juice, whatever would quench your thirst best, especially if you are experiencing dry mouth. Apply a little mindfulness to even this super simple task, paying total attention to each and every sip and swallow. Get in some comfy clothes and settle in for a nap or some channel surfing.
If these things are unavailable, or the need is beyond their applications for you, a bottle of CBD is a great tool to keep in your medicine cabinet. CBD increases production of the cannabinoid anandamide, the "bliss molecule," which crowds the couch, so to speak, on THC, preventing/limiting its interaction with receptors that causes euphoria. CBD in isolate form can be highly effective by itself, but add a little lemon for an extra mood lift, or some lavender tea for a calming sedation, and tailor your response to your needs. If you don't have CBD handy, the terpene caryophyllene has shown to have the same effect on THC, and can be found in black pepper, basil, and oregano. Chewing on a peppercorn has been a tried and true turn-to in cannabis subculture for years and years. I have personally appreciated swift results.
Ultimately and fortunately, at least for much of the country thus far, we are moving beyond the days of smoking “whatever our guy’s got,” and are now (or will soon be) able to tailor purchases to our needs with more precision. Better still, the day will come when we all can grow our medicine to our needs. It is imperative that one consider the terpene profiles of the medicine they purchase whenever possible in order to fully understand the effects the medicine will provide before either enjoying or enduring them. Every person/metabolism is different. Time of day, tasks at hand, and where you are personally feeling at the time will help determine what would best serve you. Learning about the terpenes can seem intimidating, but it’s like building a salad on a molecular level. Just as you can learn for yourself if you enjoy dried cranberries with blue cheese over romaine, or avocado with ranch dressing and iceberg, you can certainly learn from yourself which strains, modes, and dosages pair the best with your metabolism and needs.
Beyond that, keep a journal of the changes on everything from top to tootsies, including breathing, heartrate, mood, etc. Try out the free ReleafApp to conveniently track your CBD and cannabis. Trust yourself to learn from yourself, and know when you feel balanced. It’s easy to feel out of control when we aren’t accustomed to so much of it, but your body will let you know what works and what doesn’t. For a little more insight on how to begin a mindfulness practice with only four minutes a day, register for my free Masterclass on How to Achieve Balance and Independence with Self-Compassion. Do yourself the favor of staying for the entire presentation, and receive a gift at the end of a guided meditation recording for calming a triggered trauma body or even - you guessed it - finding your way down when you get too high. If you find you need a little help and added accountability here, and/or some further education on cannabis, terpenes, and how they work with the body, I would love to talk with you. Book your free Discovery Session now.
If you know others who could benefit from these helpful tips for addressing overmedication, please feel free to share this link on social media, and let's end the ignorance and stigma surrounding cannabis medicine.