How to Sober Up When You’ve Consumed Too Much Cannabis

By Dylan Dee, Lift & Co.

Too much of a good thing can end up poorly for anyone — that’s true for anything in this world, including cannabis. In the aftermath of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada Canada, more than a couple people will unfortunately experience the unpleasant feeling of overconsumption.

How overconsumption feels

If you do find you are regretting your consumption choices, the first thing to remember is you can’t overdose on cannabis.

The impact of having too much cannabis depends on how much you’ve had and your own physiology, and the effects can be both mental and physical. Mentally, you might feel mild anxiety, paranoia, or even full-blown panic and fear. On the physical side, you might feel nauseous, light-headed, or dizzy. To top it all off, you might feel your heart racing, and all of this can combine to create a feeling of complete overwhelm.

One of the most common sources of over-intoxication is edibles. The unpredictable onset time of edibles, and the long time for them to wear off, makes them a frequent culprit. Edibles are metabolized differently than other methods of consumption, and the THC content may vary widely between products. Basically, handle with care — those gummy bears might have teeth. Consider instead, smoking or vaping cannabis; it wears off in a shorter period of time.

How to sober up if you’ve had too much

The good news is, you don’t need to suffer — there are a few things you do to help the sensations pass faster.

  1. Remember you’re going to be okay. When your mind (and perhaps your heart) are racing, it’s easy to feel panicked. Calming your nervous system down will help you feel better, so get to a place where you feel safe and comfortable, and remind yourself that you’ll be fine.

  2. Make use of the buddy system. This is a popular tactic that works well for people who drink too much, and it’s equally effective for weed. Having a friend sit with you, possibly providing gentle stimulation by holding your hand or having some form of physical contact, can help ground you, calming your nervous system and alleviating the severity of what you’re experiencing.

  3. Embrace a distraction. Whether it’s relaxing music or a funny movie you can lose yourself in, any distractions that get you out of your head will help reduce the sensations of anxiety that are making you uncomfortable.

  4. Explore CBD. This is not a guaranteed helper, but studies in animals suggest that the consumption of CBD can help to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC. Research doesn’t duplicate this for humans, but there are anecdotal reports suggesting that it helps. Of course, if you do consider trying CBD as a treatment, make sure that what you’re consuming is a product with a high CBD content and little to no THC (you don’t want to compound the problem).

While there are several commercial products and home remedies claiming they’ll help sober people up, there is little to no evidence that proves they actually work — and some of them could actually be dangerous.

If you’re wondering how long the bad feelings can last, it really depends on three factors: how much you have consumed, how you consumed it, and the specific physiology of your body. When cannabis is inhaled, the effects generally wear off in three to four hours. With edibles, it can take much longer — about eight to 12 hours.

If you can’t find a safe space to chill out, for instance in a social space or a friend’s party with new people, perhaps you should leave the edibles at home (especially if they are new to you).

How to avoid the overconsumption problem

In the end, the easiest way to survive overconsumption is to avoid it altogether, and perhaps the best way to do that is to follow the golden rule: “start low and go slow.”

This means you need to start by consuming a low dosage or low quantity, and then give it plenty of time for it to take effect (at least 15 minutes for anything you inhale, and 90-120 minutes for edibles) — especially if you’re consuming a new strain that you are not familiar with.

An excellent tip in general is to pay attention to the THC levels in what you consume, not only does it help you avoid unpleasant surprises, but you can also learn your own tolerance levels.

Dylan Dee is the community manager for Lift & Co. He’s passionate about connecting cannabis experts with bud beginners.