Side Effects of Marijuana and Withdrawal Symptoms
Have you ever had that overwhelming realization that, perhaps, you’ve gotten just a little too high this time? Let’s examine what happens when you get your first "dose" of THC and also what happens when you travel down the rabbit’s hole just a little too far.
When you "use" anything, you are supposed to do so with extreme caution. You are likely to find a long list of possible side effects for any drug, medicinal or not. That's why they're known as drugs. They affect our bodies and/or our minds when taken. So, if we took a puff off a pipe right now, what would we be likely to experience?
Side Effects of Getting Stoned:
- Dry mouth.
- Red (bloodshot) eyes due to the vasodilators in the THC that expand the blood vessels in the pupil making them easier to see. There is no real damage done to the eye. It just looks painful and arouses suspicion from others -- especially in areas weed isn't legal!
- Likelihood of laughter increases, which can be inconvenient. (Customer service nightmare!)
- Cravings or hunger pangs (this is due to your body needing something to further metabolize the THC in your blood before it is stored for an indeterminate time in your body's fat cells).
- Irregular, or quickened, heart rate. This may not be super noticeable if you smoke alone (which is a no-no), but will quickly become apparent if suddenly in the presence of others. Don't even think about whether or not they're high, too!
- Confusion and lack of focus. This can make learning difficult for those that are in school. This can make doing your job difficult, as well.
- Sleepiness may settle. If you rip a bowl before you return from your lunch break, you may find yourself yawning uncontrollably until the end of your shift.
- Coordination issues. This makes driving risky and illegal while under the influence. You're not likely to T-bone someone because you don't care, but because you were busy looking each way 67 times!
Anyone that's smoked more than a time or two in their lives has probably experienced most of those “uh, oh” moments. What made them notice they'd had too big a hit, too much of that delicious brownie, or a bowl too much?
Sometimes one time is too much... When that dizzy, nauseous feeling hits (after you take a hit), you know you’re truly in for a "wild ride."
You’re sitting very still and the entire world around you begins to grow warmer, the sounds become jumbled, and then the lights become just a bit brighter... when you realize you might not be in control any longer. This can be a frightening moment for us.
Most of us would wander over to a quiet chair in the corner and try to stay out of sight, at least until the swirling subsided. Maybe we'd reach for a stack of cookies, a soda, or something that has worked to comfort us in the past, like a large bowl of salted caramel ice cream. Others may lean back and focus in on the TV, allowing the tone and the changing pictures to lull them into a sense of calmness.
There's a lot of advice out there on how to “come back down” when perhaps you’ve partaken too much of the Green Goddess. (Not to be confused with the GreenFairy more commonly known as absinthe.) Having donned my jungle apparel, I've hacked my way through the jungle of remedies to bring you some of the most impressive cures.
If your kite begins flying too high, try:
- Sticking to sound advice from your favorite piece of literature... does it say to remain calm? If so, that's great advice! Maybe quote some lines to yourself to keep yourself occupied.
- Staying hydrated. (It is suggested that clear liquids, like water, are your best bet. Some say just water, but others add that sugar water and sodas are just as valid in this case, since sugar stabilizes the glucose in your blood -- decreasing the effect of too much THC.)
- Neil Young fans should know this one: use black peppercorns. (Simply sniff or chew a few to "wake yourself")
- Sleeping. This is a classic go-to after getting too stoned. Sleeping allows the body to enter a slower, more relaxed state until your body is able to metabolize and stabilize the levels of THC in your bloodstream.
- Taking a short, albeit supervised, walk. Fresh air can help with "the spins," or a swirling, dizzy feeling, but since you're dizzy, we'd advise taking a friend and phone along with you.
- Taking a SHOWER or BATH. When most people experience a surge of THC in the blood stream, they experience increased heartbeats, flushing, circulation irregularities, etc. Taking a relaxing shower can help by giving you a sense of refreshment through cooling waters or through the use of relaxing scents from shampoos, deodorants, or even body washes. (Lavender is a great, calming fragrance!) Plus, the sensation of cleaning yourself, using a rag to wash your face, feeling the water and soap slipping off your hair, the sensory effects of this activity can bring us back to a calm state through memories of our youth.
- Distracting yourself in a positive way. (By "distract yourself," we mean in a safe and productive manner -- no Russian roulette and don’t make that trip down to the Vegas strip for a round of poker) Simple activities, such as watching a funny cartoon, listening to music, playing a video game, or even coloring can have a palliative effect.
- Retreating to a dark, quiet room. There are studies suggesting that rooms exuding calm and quiet are the best cure for a dramatic insurgence of THC into the blood system. This is thought to be favorable during a "meltdown" because so many people experience headaches or sensitivity to light. Migraine sufferers are predisposed to having this effect swarm on them due to their already-constricted blood vessels in, or around, the frontal lobe as well as the occipital region, near the retinal arteries.
- A lemon cure. The power of lemon is to be observed with awe here, as with the peppercorn. Its aromatic intensity is sure to pull you out of a fog. Drink something with lemon, or nibble on a peel.
- Eating ice cream -- if you can. Normally, I wouldn’t suggest this option for those users that tend to overheat or become nauseous easily, because diary is notorious for not being friendly with the churning acid in some of our stomachs. If you have no dairy restrictions, get your roommate to bring home some ice cream! If they don't make it before you feel better, at least you'll still have ice cream!
These are only a few of the most common -- and interesting -- choices for when you need a cure for having gotten too close to cannabis. Be sure to take care of yourself and research anything you're uncertain of.
Withdrawal Symptoms for the Ganja Gang
The first, and usually, most noticeable symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana are:
- Anxiety. Drink some chamomile tea and visit your local health food store for quick fixes.
- Chills. To go from being perfectly warm, to experiencing tingly chills, you're certain to feel uncomfortable. Try sliding your feet into some fuzzy slippers, wrapping yourself in a blanket, or a hot soup. If none of those make you feel better, draw yourself a warm bath and get a hot towel ready before you get ready for bed.
- Decreased appetite. When we were high, we had no problem killing a whole pizza ourselves. Now, 24 hours have passed without a morsel entering our mouths. Try small bites and portions. Salads are a good step (minus dairy-based dressings) if your tummy hurts too much to eat your favorite food right now.
- Excessive sweating or trembling. This is common in many types of withdrawals. Your body's just freaking out because its routine has been shaken.
- Fever and/or headaches. Say it with me, fever-reducer and headache relief. If you don't want to take medicine, look up some natural remedies for headaches and fevers. You'll usually be okay in a couple hours' time. Nap, if nothing else works.
- Grouchiness. You may want to rip someone's skin off, or crawl out of your own. You will be okay soon, just breathe... a lot. Count to 10 before you speak.
- Sleeplessness. Luckily, there are medicines and teas to aid in this as well. Meditation is also praised.
Some other symptoms that may be soon to follow include anger, depression, and fear.
These uncomfortable feelings might remind you a bit of your mother standing over you, shaking the proverbial finger. The biggest difference is that you have control over this part of your life. You made the decision to get high. You also made the decision to become a chronic weed smoker. That means you can now make the decision to deal with your withdrawal symptoms without giving back into the idea of getting stoned!
So, since we're super self-sufficient, let's strap on our big pants and get this going! We're not going to live life angry, depressed, and fearful just because we're done ripping bongs, are we? Didn't think so.
My personal opinion is that you can get through anything you truly want to. I've been through many, metaphorical, obstacle courses in life myself. If you've come this far, you couldn't be hopeless. I believe you can make it through this difficult time if you hold on to hope and push yourself back out of your comfort zone. It's uncomfortable to change, so we're here to help you feel more relaxed about it without taking a dab!
What to Do if You're Going Through Withdrawals
No one can decide what's best for you, other than yourself. That's why it's so important for you to weigh your options. List out pros and cons of possible solutions to make your decision easier.
If you are aware of your own strength and power, you can navigate these waters in-house. You can try taking online courses, you can meditate, you can create, just sit down and think first... This is your body, your mind, you should have the ability to take it all back from the vice you've placed them in! We can help.
When you’re ready, there are many ways to approach your obstacle. There are inspirational and motivational videos, support groups, and activities to help you through this. There isn't likely any logical reason to be stressed out. Let go of your shame so you can heal. It’s all down to physiological responses that your body is going to throw at you. All of the before mentioned pains and slight discomforts are your body’s immune response to the chemical in the weed being depleted from all of those wonderful cells that make up your YOU. So really the scariest part of relapse is your body combating against you. And you know it doesn’t have to be that scary…that’s what we’re here for. Information. Support. Knowledge is the key thing…all you need to know is that you can make it.
Sure, you'll have to deal with your body's physiological responses to the removal of weed from it, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world. All of the aforementioned discomforts are your body’s immune response to the chemical in the weed being depleted from all of those wonderful cells that make you, YOU.
Really, the scariest part of facing withdrawals or a relapse is the idea of your body combating against you. With all of these tools we're offering you -- information, knowledge, support -- how could it be that scary? You'll have privacy and you yet you won't be alone!
Fun Facts for the Road:
The body naturally begins reject the THC components that are stored in your body's fat cells somewhere around the three-to-four day mark. Those THC components tuck themselves down nice and quiet-like in those cells and hang out until you begin to become physically active again.
Knowing that, isn't it odd that when we become frequent smokers we tend to become immobile, or lose our desire to move?
The more we smoke, the further away everything seems to be from our comfy couches, chairs, and beds. We’ll just move more tomorrow, right? But then Barry shows up with the bong, and it all begins again...
After the first little trickles of THC begin to hit your blood stream, our body's "little service men" break into action -- or choose not to. Either way, your immune system is upset. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells are formed. Your immune system made up of cells; white blood cells and red blood cells.
The white blood cells reside mostly in your bone marrow. They are well-known fighters against infections, viruses, and more. Research has found that, both during and after quitting, smoking pot can cause your body’s immune system to become... slow. Makes sense, since our racing thoughts slow down when we're stoned, right?
This slowing can intensify your body’s response to any incoming, or perhaps out-going, items, even to our beloved THC.
No matter what, support yourself. You need yourself to survive. Relapse, withdrawals, negative side effects, etc., don't have the same power as your mind does over yourself. (Not if you don't let them, at least). With other drugs, sure, the withdrawals are more intense and risky. But we're talking about weed, here. Our little green buddy. It's known for being helpful, and it luckily isn't extremely hard to let go of if you can restore your faith in yourself!