If you’re prone to panic attacks and end up consuming the wrong strain, there’s a chance that you’ll have an uncomfortable experience with cannabis if you’re a novice user. While the plant is famed for helping us to relax and become mellow, it’s important that we remember that not everybody has such a positive time on pot. And it can strike experienced consumers too – for example, just because you’re a seasoned smoker doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to handle high-strength edibles straight away.
Here are eight ways to ensure that your trips on marijuana never get out of control.
1) Stay aware
Keeping a check on how your body feels and is responding to cannabis can help you prepare for and potentially stave off a panic attack. A panic attack could occur due to heightened paranoia and stress, a rapid heartbeat, chest pains, mental confusion and chills.
For people who suffer from depression, PTSD and other mental disorders, cannabis is typically an excellent mood-booster, whatever the strain. This doesn’t always apply for anxiety patients, however. Cannabis with high THC concentrations can sometimes – if not always – magnify symptoms.
2) Try to distract yourself
When the body is under the influence of a psychoactive substance, concentrating on the very thing making you panic is only going to make things worse – instead, you should try to distract yourself by becoming absorbed in a different activity. Since your short-term memory can be impaired when taking cannabis, it’s very possible to do this.
Perhaps put your favorite album on or relax with some food and a movie. Just do something that creates good feelings in your mind. While it’s true that a psychoactive chemical such as THC can make bad thoughts worse, it has a similar amplifying effect on good thoughts.
3) Relax and remember that you’re high
Nobody has died from using cannabis, so remember that if you ever start freaking out. THC is a psychoactive substance which translates to mind-altering effects, but they’re just that – in your mind. When having a panic attack on cannabis, reminding yourself that you have taken cannabis and that you can expect to feel some bizarre sensations is a clever way to calm down.
4) Go to sleep
If everything becomes too much, then getting some shuteye is a great way of bringing a panicky cannabis experience to a close. Falling asleep while under stress may seem difficult at first, particularly if you have a rapid heartbeat, but focus on breathing slowly and steadily and allow your body to sink into the bed – you’ll be asleep before you know it!
5) Call a friend before calling the hospital
So, you’ve smoked a joint and now your heart rate is beginning to race. As you start to panic, a plethora of worst-case scenarios fill your brain, increasing your likelihood of making an irrational decision courtesy of an overreaction.
But before you think about phoning the ambulance or similar drastic measures, consider contacting a friend or (if you’re sure they won’t get angry about your cannabis use) a family member. A friendly face or voice can help keep you grounded with some reality checks about your situation. And if you do end up in a situation where you need medical assistance, you’ll have someone there to take care of this for you.
6) Experiment with CBD (a non-psychoactive cannabinoid)
Cannabis scientists have studied the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) extensively for the past 10 years or more. Now, the molecule’s long list of medicinal properties is apparent to all.
The anti-psychotic property of CBD is a brilliant asset in managing the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). High-THC, sativa-dominant strains can sometimes produce a little too much cerebral activity. However, a few tokes on a CBD-rich strain or a few drops of some high-CBD cannabis oil and you’ll soon be back in control of your mind.
7) Stay patient
If you’ve taken edibles, then these provide a much longer experience – from the time they take to kick in to the time they take to wear off. For people with slow metabolisms, an edible trip can last for up to 12 hours.
However, when you smoke or vape weed, the effects last about three hours tops. These time differences occur due to the variation in how the body processes cannabinoids depending on whether they are consumed orally or inhaled. Don’t panic at powerful psychoactive effects, they’ll wear off eventually.
8) Change your dose
Here’s one for next time: change your dose. If, after your unpleasant experience, you feel that you pushed things a little too hard, perhaps drop your dosage next time around or change to a strain with a little less THC. However, for those who don’t want to substitute their preferred strain, keep some CBD products close by for self-medicating.