If you are someone who uses cannabis regularly, you may notice over time that you experience a waning effect and no longer get the same results as before. If so, you might want to consider a tolerance break. A tolerance break simply means abstaining from THC to reset your tolerance.
There are also other reasons to give your body a break from THC – I say THC because there is no need to take a CBD tolerance break. We don’t develop a tolerance to CBD because it interacts with our body endocannabinoid receptors in another way.
Some research suggests that we may need less CBD over time, because we can develop a “reverse tolerance” to CBD. This means we need less CBD to get the same results.
How do you know when it’s time to take a tolerance break? Here are 3 ways to find out when it’s time to abstain from THC:
1. You use a lot more THC to get the same result
If you notice that you need to refill your bowl more often, or that your edible dose has doubled and you’re not feeling the effects of THC as strongly as before, it’s time to take a tolerance break.
Using higher and higher doses of THC works against you in several ways. First, you could make your symptoms worse (see number 3). You will also burn a hole in your wallet.
Cannabis is expensive and if you need higher doses you will spend a small fortune on cannabis products (unless you grow it yourself).
Too much THC can interfere with your daily life. If you find yourself forgetting to answer emails or phone calls or just not feeling very present, a tolerance break will help you get back on track.
2. You use cannabis out of habit and unintentionally
It is easy to obtain cannabis by habit and not intentionally. You can get used to using cannabis for certain activities or at certain times of the day, without wondering if it’s the right time to use cannabis.
Consuming cannabis with intention means being aware of how much you are consuming and when. Ask yourself if you really need cannabis right now, check with your body and see, maybe it’s better to wait until later. However, when we usually take cannabis without thinking, we can end up consuming too much.
While it’s easy to reach for cannabis to get that happy buzz throughout the day, it’s important to assess your motivations behind it. Maybe the cannabis is masking an emotion or problem you’re dealing with, without the interference of THC. Sometimes when we are faced with difficult emotions, too much THC can make us feel anxious.
If you find yourself mindlessly searching for cannabis throughout the day, it may be beneficial to abstain from cannabis for a few days to break the habit.
3. Cannabis makes your symptoms worse, not better
This is especially true when using cannabis to treat anxiety and depression. There is a fine line with THC – where its therapeutic effects end and its adverse effects begin.
THC can worsen mental health issues if you consume too much of it. Research has shown that when used in low doses, THC can improve depression and anxiety, but at higher doses the opposite is true.
A low dose (generally) is less than 10% THC in a cultivar and less than 10mg in an edible. However, it will be different for everyone.
For some people a high dose is 5mg and for others a high dose is 50mg. It really depends on your own body and it’s a good idea to follow up with a cannabis diary. This will help you see what dose is right for you and when it’s too much and you feel worse.
How long should you take a tolerance break?
It depends on how much you use. If you’ve been consuming Snoop Dogg levels of cannabis, you definitely want to take a longer break, but for most people a few days may be enough.
Ideally, a week or two will reset your tolerance quite well. If you’re looking to clear THC from your system, aim for 30 days.
If you regularly consume high doses of THC, you may experience some symptoms the first day or two of not using cannabis, similar to what you experience when you stop caffeine. Symptoms may include insomnia, headaches and some irritability. Try to relax, do meditation, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest.
Cannabis is not addictive like other substances because your body does not become addicted to it like nicotine. However, you can develop a habitual attachment to THC, when you think you need more than you actually need. This is when a tolerance break will help reset you, so you can consume less to achieve the same result.
How to come back from a tolerance break
You will need to be aware of how much cannabis you consume after you complete your tolerance break. Start with a quarter of the dose you were using before, so if you were using 10mg, try to take only 2.5mg. If you used to use high-THC strains and smoked multiple joints a day, aim for a joint with a low-THC, high-CBD cultivar.
See what it does at a much lower dose, if that’s not enough use a little more next time. If you find that you still need as much as before, you may need to take a longer tolerance break.
How often should you take a tolerance break?
It’s a very individual thing, for example I take about one or two tolerance breaks a year. I use cannabis daily but usually only in the evening and use it in lower doses. However, if I start doing it too often during the day, I develop a tolerance so I take a break.
Some of you may prefer to abstain for a few days a month, it really depends on your personal preferences and how you feel. If you only use cannabis a few times a week, you probably won’t need a tolerance break.
Take a tolerance break when you know it’s time, when you feel like you’re consuming too much and you know you need a break. If you’re having trouble taking a tolerance break, ask yourself why. Be very honest, is it because you are under a lot of stress and cannabis is helping you, or is it because you don’t like the idea of going without it?
I recommend that anyone who regularly uses cannabis (except medical patients) take a tolerance break as often as needed, as this will help you maintain a healthy balance with your cannabis use.
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