From beginners to lifelong users, most cannabis lovers have a story to tell about the time they had a “bad high”. So what is a bad high? This kind of experience is actually an anxiety or panic attack while under the influence of cannabis which is why they are often accompanied by a racing heart beat, panicked thoughts, sweatiness, nausea, shakiness–all symptoms of anxiety. This may happen because you’re a naturally stressed or anxious person, you aren’t in an entirely comfortable setting, you aren’t used to the effects of THC, or most commonly you simply consumed more THC than you are comfortable with.
If you experience anxiety while using cannabis here’s our complete guide to managing it and avoiding it in the future:
CBD is found in cannabis and hemp, it is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid meaning it does not produce a high effect. If you have CBD on hand it can help offset adverse affects of THC, reduce feelings of anxiety, and promote a greater sense of calm.
You can also choose a strain of cannabis higher in CBD or lower in THC to get a more mellow cannabis experience.
Be Mindful of Your Breathing
Taking deep breaths tells our body we are alright and don’t need to go into fight or flight mode. When we are scared or anxious our breathing becomes faster and more shallow – focus on your breathing and bring your body back to a calm state.
Listen to Music
Listening to music you enjoy or calming music in general can keep your mind off of negative thoughts or sensations, calm your nerves, and help you get back in a positive state.
Drink water. It’s always good to stay hydrated but drinking a glass or two of water can help with feelings of nausea and the infamous cottonmouth. Focusing on performing such a basic task can also ground you and and help offset panicked thoughts.
Talk with a Friend
Being in a calm environment with a friend to talk you down can really quell any anxiety you might be experiencing and ease racing thoughts. If you are feeling panicked or overwhelmed while using cannabis it’s always a good bet to talk to a trusted friend.
One tactic used for those who experience panic attacks is to be hugged or held until the panic attack passes. Hugs have also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in general. If physical contact is something you are comfortable with, hugging a good friend couldn’t hurt. You could also try out a weighted blanket if you have one nearby to help you feel more grounded and relaxed.
Take a Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower can help reduce a rapid heart beat because of the low temperature. It can also decrease body temperature, conserve energy, and preserve oxygen. The cold can also help with nausea so if possible taking a cold shower could help you and your body get to a calmer state.
Although the basis of this tip is mostly anecdotal we recommend snacking on something if possible. Many cannabis users have claimed that foods high in carbohydrates and/or fats help to take the edge off of their high.
Go For a Walk
Getting some fresh air and stepping outside for a walk can help calm the nerves especially if you felt uncomfortable in your setting, getting away from that and into a more open environment could help. There is also evidence that exercise helps metabolize THC more quickly which in turn could bring its effects to an end sooner.
The most important steps of prevention are:
Go into the experience with a positive, open mindset and in a setting that is comfortable to you. If your anxiety levels are already running high, you’re with people you aren’t very comfortable with, or you’re in an uneasy setting consider holding off on consuming cannabis. Finally and most importantly–start low and go slow. Start with a small dose – less than you think is considered a small dose especially when it comes to dabs or edibles. Give yourself time to start feeling the effects and go from there. Remember to give yourself adequate time to begin feeling the effects before consuming more, this is particularly important with edibles which can take 1-2 hours to kick in.