Why do I need a tolerance break from cannabis?
Repeated THC exposure over a period of time makes your body take action to minimize the increase in CB1 receptor activity. You start to build up a “tolerance” to THC.
Signs you need a tolerance break from cannabis
- You’re spending too much money on weed
- It’s taking priority over your responsibilities
- All your free time is spent inside
- You rely on it too much for creativity
- You smoke so much that you feel like you’re not feeling the effects as strongly as you used to.
- You’ve been wanting to take a break, or even quit, for so long that getting high makes you feel extremely guilty
- If you’re getting way too high and it’s leaving you feeling stuck too consistently
4.3% of Americans have tried to quit marijuana at least six times and failed
Understand what happens when you quit cannabis
For the lucky few, minimal side effects. But for the rest of us:
Days 1 to 2 of quitting is when withdrawal symptoms start. A meta-analyses of over 23,000 people found that 47% had at least three of the following withdrawal symptoms: nausea, headaches, depressed mood, difficulty getting to sleep, sweating, anger, nervousness, decreased appetite, and strange dreams.
The risk of withdrawal symptoms is proportional to the amount of marijuana you’ve been consuming. For example, someone who consumed marijuana three times a week would likely have less withdrawal symptoms than someone who consumed marijuana every day.
Day 3 of quitting is an irritability and anxiety peak for most people. Thankfully, they begin to dissipate in the coming days. On the other hand, strange dreams and difficulty getting to sleep only begin to increase on day 3.
Day 4 of quitting is when the amazing physiological changes in your brain start to occur. It only takes around four days of quitting marijuana for the neuronal changes in your brain to start to go back to baseline.
Days 5 to 7 of quitting marijuana is the period of time when most people who have tried to quit and failed are likely to fail at quitting. Since days 5 to 7 are statistically the biggest hurdles for people attempting to quit smoking weed, these are days someone should pay particular focus on getting past.
Days 8 to 28. Slow and steady, a little better, every day.
How long should a tolerance break last?
Since everybody’s experience with cannabis is highly individual, the length of a tolerance break can vary based on genetics and how you feel mentally. We do have a good study that suggests anywhere from 2 to 28 days is best.
Even a short break of less than a week will significantly reduce tolerance, with most CB1 receptors only taking about two days to bounce back significantly after abstaining.
Longer breaks may be valuable for mental balancing and physical reconditioning.
The study can be found here.
Get down with your tolerance break and commit
For most people, this is going to suck. But you can do things to make it suck less – and that’s what this article is all about.
Here’s some tips on how to get your tolerance breaks to suck less. Ready? Here we go.
Pick a definite start date to begin your t-break.
Don’t have any cannabis or paraphernalia around when you start.
Identify who may be a support and tell them that you are taking a t-break.
Stay Busy – The hardest moments will be the times of day when you usually partake. That’s when your brain and body expects it.
Act as if you are hungry and eat on a schedule.
Exercise if you can to burn off THC stored in fat cells.
Keep well hydrated with water.
Tools that help cannabis withdrawal symptoms
Exercise has been shown to enhance CB1 receptor sensitivity, along with helping you sleep.
Meditation promotes emotional health and enhances self awareness.
Peppermint Oil has been used to help aid in digestion and reduce nausea.
Melatonin is great for helping you sleep.
Lavender baths with CBD aid in relieving stress and relaxation.
CBD oil helps with a lot of the withdrawal symptoms, and can help during the tolerance break if taken as needed. A 2015 case report found that “CBD oil can be an effective compound to use for transitioning an individual off addictive use of marijuana.”
If you don’t have an understanding group to support you during your t-break, try Reddit’s community of people dedicated to helping others kick the habit or navigate a t-break.
From the Center of Health and Wellbeing at The University of Vermont, get a downloadable t-break guide to act as a framework for taking a break or quitting.