With the legalization of marijuana use across many states, many teenagers and youth are starting to experiment with weed and its derivatives. One such form of marijuana is known as dabs and has gained attention for its significantly more dangerous side effects than smoking the dried flowers from a regular marijuana plant.
What Is Dabbing?
Dabbing refers to the inhalation, or “smoking,” of the vapors or smoke emitted from a highly concentrated form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana that produces the sought-after high.
Most people who dab will extract THC from marijuana by pouring butane over the dried flowers. The chemical compound dissolves into the butane and produces a gummy paste containing extremely high levels of THC.
This paste or gum is then heated with a blow torch or lighter and releases a vapor that the user inhales. Dabbing can also use hash oil, which is often added to vape devices and widely used by teens in school or at home since the oils don’t produce a telltale smell.
Marijuana vs. Dabs
Compared to normal weed, which contains 10-15% THC, these concentrated marijuana extracts contain up to 80% THC.1
Unlike smoking marijuana, dabbing can instantly make you feel high. It bypasses the slow build-up commonly associated with smoking joints. The potency of dabs and their high THC concentration means they can also bring on much more powerful side effects and potentially be far more dangerous than regular weed.
Side Effects of Dabs
Since dabs are so much stronger than marijuana, they can cause far more serious adverse effects to your physical and mental health, including:2
1. A Higher Risk of Becoming Addicted
Dabbing is not the same as smoking marijuana. Due to its higher THC concentration, short- or long-term use of dabs can lead to a much higher chance of becoming addicted or dependent on marijuana.
Physical or psychological dependence on cannabis may lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which are only worsened when dabbing instead of smoking regular weed, making it even more difficult to stop of your own accord.
One of the most significant dangers of dabbing stems from the extraction process. Although not a direct side effect of dabbing, trying to extract THC from marijuana can be tricky and potentially harmful. Butane is a highly volatile gas, and using heat alongside butane to extract THC could not only cause severe burns but possibly produce an explosion if handled incorrectly.3
3. A Much Stronger High
Since the high from dabbing is so much stronger than that of smoking marijuana, it’s not uncommon to experience the effects of marijuana, both positive and negative, at a much more intense level.
These effects include:
- Blackouts: Although losing consciousness from smoking cannabis isn’t very common, after inhaling the vapors from heated dabs, many people may experience blackouts.
- Anxiety and panic attacks: Anxiety is a common side effect of smoking marijuana, but since the effects of THC are elevated when dabbing, the usual anxiety can become unbearable and even lead to panic attacks.
- Uncontrollable shaking: Also known as the cannabis shakes, twitching and tremors may increase in frequency and severity after dabbing.
- Psychosis: Severe psychosis may not only be caused by the increase in THC in cannabis concentrates but also the other, often unknown, chemicals the paste is laced with during extraction.
- Vomiting: Unlike the effects of smoking a joint, dabbing can cause sudden, uncontrollable vomiting, especially if you inhale too much vapor at once. This is also known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
- Hallucinations: Severe, long-lasting hallucinations are not uncommon when dabbing and can cause confusion and uncontrollable behavior.
- Paranoia: One of the most significant side effects of THC is paranoia. Considering the high levels of THC found in dabs, it’s not surprising to learn that dabbing can cause bouts of severe paranoia and paranoia-related behavior.
4. Respiratory Illnesses
Besides the side effects produced by the large amount of THC present in dabs, the chemicals used to extract the THC and the extreme heat levels used to produce the vapors can cause lung injury and other respiratory diseases. Many people who dab also report developing a dry, wheezing cough that would later lead to serious illness if their lungs become irritated or infected by bacteria.
We Offer Specialized Treatment
If a loved one or you are suffering from addiction or dependence on marijuana, Adelante Recovery Center offers a specialized marijuana treatment plan to help you overcome your problem. With modalities including cognitive-behavioral therapy and group counseling, Adelante does not only focus on your addiction but on treating and stabilizing every facet of your life affected by substance abuse.
Contact our experienced team today at (949) 427-9099 to get the help and advice you need to take your first step toward lifelong recovery.