Have you been considering taking a tolerance break lately? Perhaps you have been thinking about quitting cannabis altogether? These two scenarios are becoming very common, a fact some may find surprising as cannabis legalization and cannabis use continues to rise. There are many reasons why people are thinking about these two options.
If you are considering taking a tolerance break from cannabis, you have probably been using cannabis and THC for quite some time now. There are many pitfalls to developing a high tolerance for THC. The most obvious and probably most common issue people face when they have developed a high tolerance is needing more cannabis to get the feeling they are used to. Of course, using more cannabis usually means more money required to purchase said cannabis, so saving money is also a common motivation for taking a tolerance break.
In other cases, people seem to be genuinely concerned with the amount of cannabis they are consuming, and they wish to bring their body back to a state where less cannabis is needed to produce the effects they are looking for. Surely there are other reasons people decide to take a break from cannabis, but these seem to be a few of the most common. If you have been using cannabis for an extended period, and you have tried to quit in the past, you know it isn’t easy.
Many in the cannabis community will not be happy about this statement, but this article isn’t about making people happy at the expense of hiding the truth. Cannabis does have the potential to be ADDICTIVE. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Let’s look at the Meriam Websters definition of addiction:
a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence : the state of being addicted(1)
This isn’t to say that cannabis is bad, or something to be avoided altogether. Alcohol is addictive, sex can be addictive, checking your social media account can be addictive, watching TV can be addictive, lots of not so bad things can be addictive! The problem arises when we actually become addicted to them. When we rely on these things for nearly all of our ‘good feelings’. This is when it is crucial to be honest with ourselves and consider taking a break from them or cutting them out of our routine altogether.
Dopamine is the important factor to consider in all of this. Dopamine is the chemical produced in the brain to signal reward. When we complete a task, we get dopamine. When we have sex, we get dopamine. When we figure out a solution to a complicated problem, we get dopamine. When we use cannabis with high levels of THC, we get a lot of dopamine. So, what’s the problem? The problem for long term users of THC is that the brain is not wired to constantly release dopamine in response to THC consumption.
In long term cannabis users, studies have shown reduced dopamine transporter density, and reduced dopamine release(2). With long term cannabis use the brain seems to become less able to reward the behaviors that we need to perform to sustain ourselves both physically and mentally to lead happy and fulfilled lives. Those who may use nicotine in addition to THC have it even worse, as nicotine has similar effects on the brain.
Tolerance breaks are a good way to allow your brain to begin rewarding your everyday tasks with dopamine once again. It can be truly life changing after having used cannabis for years to enjoy your mornings when you begin to get the same dopamine release from simply looking outside and seeing the sun in the sky. These little moments can change the course of our day, and our entire life, so it is important to take breaks from anything that artificially triggers dopamine rewards so that you can experience true rewards.
The steps involved in taking a tolerance break are not much different from those involved in quitting cannabis altogether. In the case of taking a tolerance break you simply complete the steps to quit using cannabis with the intentions of eventually using cannabis again.
Quitting Cannabis Altogether
This can be a very hard decision to make, and quite frankly, many will opt to never make it despite wondering and quietly considering it in the back of their minds. If you have decided to quit cannabis completely, it will be difficult, but it is certainly doable. One of the most difficult aspects of quitting cannabis entirely is that it often involves a major change in your environment including your social relationships.
Let’s face it, cannabis use brings people together – the sense of community present among cannabis users is admirable and when the right people come together it can be nothing short of beautiful. But, hanging around friends that are constantly doing something you are trying very hard not to do is a recipe for disaster. It is basic psychology that a mind will conform to its immediate environment. Unless you have insane willpower, you will likely fold on your commitment to quit cannabis if constantly surrounded by it.
The first thing to do then, is to make your commitment known to your friends and loved ones that use cannabis. If you do not have their full support, you may have to consider spending less time with them. This is about you & doing what is right for you. This is something to always remember.
The next step is to hide/get rid of all your cannabis related items. Depending on your personal level of willpower, this can even include those cool weed leaf socks you love so much. You must give your brain as much distance from these ‘cues to use’ as possible until you reach a point where you feel comfortable being around them and not wanting to use cannabis.
Once you have done these things, the rest is all about creating new habits to replace the habit of using cannabis. Life will be VERY boring for a while. Your brain must learn to provide you with dopamine to make cannabis-less life interesting and fun again. Depending on how long you used cannabis, this may be a long period of waiting it out, or you may find yourself feeling better relatively soon. For those who find it extremely difficult, things like video games can help take up time and keep your brain occupied which will reduce those cravings to use.
Exercise. Exercise is extremely underrated in general but for those trying to quit cannabis, exercise is your best friend. Not only does exercise serve a similar function to something like video games by taking up time and occupying your mind, but it also helps to speed up the regeneration of chemicals in your brain. Exercise can be an intimidating term for some people, but it doesn’t have to mean running a marathon or going to the gym. Simply taking a short walk and increasing the length every day or every couple of days can be all you really need. Of course, the more exercise you do the better.
CBD to Help with Tolerance Breaks and Quitting
Some will find it nearly impossible to take that tolerance break or quit using cannabis. In many cases we use cannabis or really any dopamine triggering ritual to suppress other emotions and thoughts we just don’t want to deal with. These can really make it harder for us to ride out those already uncomfortable days and nights where nothing feels right. In time these issues will surface, and we will likely be able to deal with them on our own, but we might need a little help getting to that point without using cannabis.
This is where CBD can be beneficial. Luckily, CBD is now available in delicious terpene rich CBD concentrates and high quality, high CBD, low THC cannabis flower. These forms of CBD make it easier on those who are used to the ritual of using cannabis to quit using by supplementing the flavors, some of the effects, and the routine. The cannabinoids in these products can help ease symptoms of withdrawal, and since there is little to no THC being consumed, the brain is not releasing dopamine to the extent it would be with regular cannabis use.
Often the ritual alone is enough to get people through until their brain has started producing enough dopamine that the craving for cannabis is manageable. At this point the CBD can be discontinued or continued based on the persons individual preference. If using flower, it would be best to eventually transition to vaping or dabbing broad spectrum CBD concentrates as to eliminate the use of THC. This transition can begin with full spectrum CBD concentrates and proceed to broad spectrum concentrates to provide a smoother transition.
It’s All Just a Matter of Time!
You may have noticed that ‘taking up time’ was emphasized. That is essentially all this process involves. It may feel dark, and the struggle may feel very real for you right now. But one of the most unfortunate aspects of life is ironically on your side. Time flies, and this transition only requires you to hang in there while your brain does all the work. If you can just manage to deal with whatever emotions or thoughts arise without consuming THC, before you know it you will be on the other side of this struggle.
If you do confront underlying subconscious issues which potentially prompted and fueled your cannabis use, try to remember that this is an entirely new period of your life that you have willingly set into motion. Realizing that you have the power and potential to control your thinking and emotions can help you see these old & tired issues in a new light. Aside from these underlying issues that may or may not be present, this is predominately a matter of brain chemistry and fortunately our brains are great at self-restoration. Just hold on and keep looking forward, you’ve got this!
We’re Here to Help First and Sell Second.
This is probably the first blog you’ve read from a CBD company that had so little to do with the products they sell. This isn’t for SEO; this hasn’t been written for marketing purposes. As the owner of Sauce Warehouse, and someone who used cannabis for over a decade, I have seen so many accounts online from people who are trying to quit cannabis or trying to learn to use cannabis in moderation. I can truly relate to their struggle.
Growing up in the late 90s and early 2000’s, medical cannabis use was just starting to be considered appropriate, most of my life it was not accepted by society. I believe this prohibitionary attitude towards the plant led many individuals like myself and my peers to use cannabis gluttonously purely out of rebellion. We knew we had been lied to about the plant, so we indulged as much as possible, whenever possible. There are many other factors which contribute to teenage drug use of course, but this was certainly a contributing factor in overuse of cannabis and still is to this day.
I wholeheartedly believe we will see a much healthier and more balanced trend in cannabis use in the future because of legalization. I would even postulate that we may discover in overusing cannabis we are overlooking some of its greatest benefits. Cannabis has many amazing medical benefits, it can be great when used in moderation for recreational purposes, but when it is truly respected and used very minimally it can rival other popular entheogens and psychedelics in terms of spiritual experience and personal insight.
With that said, many cannabis users are seeking assistance transitioning to healthier and more balanced use. As someone who is involved in the Hemp/CBD/Cannabis communities and has quit using high THC cannabis, I feel personally obligated to offer any insight and assistance I may be able to offer to those who find themselves in the same position I once found myself in. I’d also like to acknowledge that while in many cases I believe people are overusing or inappropriately using cannabis, there are people that for medical reasons use cannabis daily because the benefits are much greater than any negative effects of doing so. I also acknowledge that each individual person is unique, and some may tolerate frequent use better than others. At the end of the day, it is up to us as individuals to decide what is best for ourselves.
If you have any questions about using CBD concentrates or hemp flower to aid in taking a tolerance break from cannabis or in quitting cannabis altogether, feel free to reach out.