Cannabis is one of the most powerful alternative medications on the planet. Most of the time, cannabis can offer one of the most relaxing experiences but not everyone is going to have the same experience or have the same brain chemistry. While cannabis can be a wonderful alternative medicine for those looking to reduce their daily anxiety and stress, unfortunately some people experience the opposite.
Anxiety is anxiety. We have all felt it. Some people call it “paranoia.” Others describe this as a panic attack. It is an absolutely horrible experience.
People who experience panic attacks have reported symptoms including, but by no means restricted to:
- Racing heartbeat
- Tunnel vision
- Sweat or chills
- Chest pains
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Weakness and dizziness
- Trouble breathing
- Your whole body is placed on high alert, and fear of impending death or doom is palpable.
There are a couple of things you can do about this phenomenon. The most important thing is to realize what is happening to you. Recognition of the symptoms is the first step; dealing them is the next.
Take a Deep Breath & Calm Yourself Down
The first thing people like to tell someone who is far too high for their own good is to just “try to relax.” The operative word here is try. No matter the amount of cannabis you consume, its effects will 100% never, in the history of the universe, last forever. Take a deep breath, focus on your breathing and try to quiet the racing thoughts in your mind. Cannabis-induced anxiety is often a mental challenge, if you can gain control of your thoughts and feelings long enough to calm down, in time you will begin to feel better.
Try this yogi trick called alternate nostril breathing: Plug the right nostril and breathe in and out through the left, five count in, five count out about ten times. And then do the same thing in the opposite side. This age-old breathing technique can be very soothing. Alternate side breathing is believed (and there are some small studies that back this) to infuse the body with oxygen, potentially calming the nervous system and even lowering heart rate.
Get Some Fresh Air
Chances are the first place a THC spawned werewolf is going once a high gets too hard to handle is outside. It’s the next best thing to an oxygen tank, which they will most certainly be kicking themselves for not having around the house once the involuntary act of breathing all of a sudden exclusively falls on them. But in the dozens of times I have witnessed someone running for the door, trying to escape the high horrors that keep nibbling at their backside like a school of piranha with the munchies, I’ve never known a couple of whiffs of fresh air to help anyone get straight. But at least it gets these fools out of the house. As long as they don’t start howling at the moon and getting the cops snooping around, outdoors is probably the best place for them.
Keep CBD Handy
CBD occurs naturally in cannabis plants. It can, just like THC, be bred into higher percentages in strains. Some cannabis, in fact, has only trace elements of THC.
CBD also has a direct impact on how THC acts in the bloodstream. It is still not known exactly how this happens. However, one of the noted impacts already of CBD? It helps counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. Remember to have CBD handy, such as in the form of a CBD-only vape, CBD capsule or CBD oil.
Change Your Environment
Environments play a huge factor with cannabis. If you’re in an uncomfortable environment, it’ll cause you to tense up and speed up the heart, causing anxiety and panic attacks. Be sure to surround yourself with people you feel comfortable around or in a setting where you feel safe when having cannabis induced panic attacks.
Break Out The Pepper & Maybe A Squirt of Lemon
When the situation involving an extremely high individual takes a turn for the worse — because none of that relaxation talk worked out — there is some science out there that suggests black pepper, and maybe even some lemon juice will help take the edge off. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but the pepper trick apparently works for Neil Young! Still, it’s not like sprinting off to the kitchen and snorting up lines of spices will keep your skeleton from clawing its way out of your skin. It’s a bit less Scarface meets Hellraiser than all of that. But there are some studies that show crushing up a pile of peppercorns and inhaling the aroma is effective at easing a relentless buzz. This is because the pepper binds to the same receptors as cannabis and works to produce a calming effect. Now, repeat after me: Om….. Om….. Achoo! The same goes for lemon juice. Science shows that knocking back some fresh lemon juice with some of the zest from the peel can help fight off the THC demons playing paddywhack in the brain. There is a distinct possibility, however, that the person leaning on the pepper and lemon methods to kick their canna-panic might just end up sneezy, all puckered up and still desperately wishing their high would go away.
Eat or Drink
Grab a sandwich and crack open a refreshing drink. There really is no better way to distract yourself amidst a cannabis induced anxiety attack than shoveling some food in your face. Let us ask a silly question. What goes better with being high and eating food? The answer is obvious, nothing. If you can, jump into the kitchen when you feel uncomfortably baked and cook yourself a meal, or a simple snack.
Why not make a banana bread or your favorite treat even. Focus on the cooking and keep your mind on the prize, some delicious snacks. Be sure to be careful while using knives and power kitchen tools such as blenders, toaster ovens and juicers. Eat and you will feel better. Food makes everyone feel comforted, whether it’s organic or junk, homecooked or store bought.
Take a Shower
If you suffer from anxiety, taking a shower or a bath is one of the most relaxing things you could do, especially when dealing with cannabis induced panic attacks. Turn up the heat and soak in the hot water, which can relieve stiff muscles and raise your oxytocin levels, easing stress and anxiety.
Talk to a Friend
Take the time to talk to a friend and tell them about how you feel. Perhaps they can make you laugh, feel better, or at the very least, comfort you. They will either understand how you feel, suffering from anxiety attacks or they won’t, which can be a good thing also. Sometimes a sober opinion might make more sense when you’re having cannabis induced panic attacks.
Music is never the wrong idea. The all-symptom remedy in life is music. Everyone has their favorite genre of music. Turn on something you enjoy and begin to relax. Again, focus on your breathing and remember your high will not last forever. If you enjoy finding new music try using popular music websites and apps that play random new tracks based off your favorite genres.
Finding a new song is not only heart-warming but also very distracting from your high. Jam out and dance. Play some house beats and bop around because dancing is also great exercise. Whichever type of music makes you happy, turn it up and forget about your worries.
Switch Your Cannabis Strain
Do your research – if you can – on what kinds of cannabis is bred specifically for “low anxiety” responses. Look for user guides. In general, the more “fruity” the aura of the cannabis, the less anxiety it will cause. Why? The same chemicals in citrus fruit are found in the plant.
Cannabis with lower THC also seems to cause fewer anxiety attacks in users. CBD, for example, does not cause panic attacks at all.
The key thing to remember is that a panic attack can’t hurt you. Contrary to what some of the above symptoms may suggest, you’re most likely not suffering a heart attack or obstructed airway.
Situational factors are important determinants and anyone fond of weed will tell you that the effects are similarly contingent on your surroundings: Where were you? Who were you with? And, maybe above all: What was your frame of mind? For many, weed-based anxiety involves a hefty dose of paranoia about other people. Because marijuana is a drug enjoyed in social settings, getting too stoned can lead to suspicions that your own friends resent you, or that you’re somehow “ruining” their good time. If environmental factors are contributing to your fear or stress, removing yourself from that context can help.
Any such detail could have contributed to your panic attack, and after it’s over, it’s worth considering whether they did — particularly if this was an isolated incident. You might choose to swear off potent marijuana strains with high levels of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for weed’s psychoactive “high,” or pick the time and place of your weed use more carefully. Strictly limiting the size of your doses is an even better idea.
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