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What Is A Bad Cannabis Trip?
6 min

What Is A Bad Cannabis Trip?

6 min

Cannabis is often associated with the pleasant high it generates. But there are times when the experience feels far from enjoyable. So, what do you do if things go bad? In this article, we'll show you how to stop and prevent a bad cannabis trip, and what symptoms characterise the experience.

Every cannabis lover has been on an unpleasant weed “trip” at least once in their life. Paranoia is at its worst. You want to get off the ride so bad, but it won’t be stopping for the next few hours. You’re basically in your worst nightmare, and you can’t get out of it.

For an inexperienced user, such an event can be traumatising. At worst, it may lead to a wrong impression of, or even a vehement aversion toward, the magic herb.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Bad cannabis trips are both preventable and treatable—to a degree. In this article, we aim to arm you with the knowledge to mitigate the situation to the best of your ability, and deal with it effectively if a bad cannabis trip does happen.

What causes a bad trip on cannabis?

A negative cannabis experience can be the result of several factors. To give you an idea of how different types of intake methods, as well as your own set and setting, affect the cannabis experience, allow us to elaborate.

Consuming edibles

Consuming Edibles

There’s a reason why legendary rapper and weed icon Snoop Dogg avoids edibles. According to him, “They ain’t got no off button”. Coming from someone who claims to smoke 81 blunts per day, these are important words to take heed of.

Because, unlike smoking, vaping, or doing bong rips, ingesting cannabis causes weed to make its way through your GI tract and liver before entering systemic circulation. As a result, not only does it take a while to kick in, but the high also lasts much longer, and the experience itself is stronger. This is because the liver converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent analogue capable of taking you on a wild, terrifying ride.

Many cannabis users, both novices and veterans, make the mistake of ingesting too much, too soon, rather than waiting the hour or so it takes for the effects to kick in. Don’t be overzealous!

Related article

How To Calculate The Strength Of Edibles

Dabbing

Like taking edibles, dabbing is naturally primed to deliver a stronger experience. Dabbing is a relatively new cannabis consumption method that involves vaporizing cannabis concentrates—substances containing around 50–90% THC—using an apparatus called a dabbing rig. That’s a far cry from today’s buds that contain around 30% THC at most.

To put things in perspective, the amount of THC in a single, large dab is equivalent to that of a full joint. If you haven’t dabbed before (or even if you have), expect your endocannabinoid system to be positively flooded with THC. This could, in turn, cause unpleasant, trippy sensations, even for the most experienced smokers. Here too, dosing plays a big role as well.

Picking high-THC strains

Picking High-THC Strains

Ask any old-school cannabis user about potency, and they’ll tell you that today’s marijuana is much stronger. And it’s true. Back in the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s, THC levels didn’t exceed 10–15%. Today, there are strains that can hit 25–30% THC and above. These are the one that can incapacitate a newbie in an instant.

Although THC isn’t the only substance that defines a cannabis high, it is the most significant; so higher levels of the substance are more likely to cause an unpleasant experience.

Mental state

Just like alcohol, cannabis can amplify your current feelings. If you feel good, all that positivity will resonate throughout the entire experience. You’ll likely have a lot of laughs before devouring an entire bag of crisps within the hour. On the flip side, being in the wrong mental state can stir up negative emotions. If there’s something troubling you or making you feel ill, emotionally or mentally, all of that will come to the surface.

Setting

Setting

Similar to mental state, your surroundings also play a role in the outcome of your cannabis high. If you’re with a bunch of close friends whom you trust, with good music and good vibes all around, you’ll likely have a pleasant ride.

Likewise, being in a chaotic environment with people you don’t know can trigger troublesome emotions. Some people feel extra anxious when it happens, while others lose their sense of reality. And that can be a scary situation to be in.

What is a bad cannabis trip like?

Though we’ve described some in passing, we will now examine the various symptoms and sensations one might experience during a bad cannabis trip.

Paranoia

The influence of the magic herb can sometimes lead people to unnecessarily overthink. The mind and body become anxious as you try to decipher whether or not the person next to you in the supermarket noticed your altered state. This can then lead to the next symptom, which is even more distressing.

Panic attacks

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are a scary experience indeed. They can cause irregular breathing, which results in shortness of breath, more anxiety, and even fainting. All of this occurs while stressful or intrusive scenarios play over and over in your head. Cannabis can both augment and initiate these symptoms in some people.

It’s for this reason that a handful of people try to forget their experiences with marijuana altogether. After all, who wants to be in an antsy state to a point of terror, even for just a few minutes? What’s worse is that a bad cannabis trip can last for hours, depending on the intake method, which can be hugely daunting to those already at risk of panicking.

Hallucinations

While weed-related hallucinations are not like those experienced on psychedelics, they can occur—particularly with edibles. Oftentimes, those experiencing high doses of THC for the first few times may experience what they deem to be hallucinations—auditory or visual. This is, understandably, a lot to handle, and something novices in particular might be very alarmed by.

Related article

Can Cannabis Cause Hallucinations?

Dizziness

Dizziness

Anyone who’s had a bad cannabis trip is familiar with the dizzy spell it initiates. It feels like the world around you is spinning extra fast. Think of being on a nightmare roller coaster ride. A lot of dizzy spells happen to first-time smokers who’ve imbibed a lot more than they should have. But if you’re more experienced, this may happen as a result of taking a huge dab or bong rip.

Distressing physical sensations

Dizziness is one of numerous potential distressing physical sensations during a bad weed trip. But you may also sweat profusely, experience stomach discomfort, and an elevated heart rate. Some people also go through episodes of shaking and numbness.

Now, another important subject to address is how long these experiences last. If you’re smoking, expect to be in that displeasing state for an hour or two. But if you’re taking edibles, you may be in for an 8-hour ride. That said, unpleasant symptoms should subside well before the entire high has run its course.

How to overcome a bad cannabis trip

The good thing about a bad cannabis experience is that it is not life-threatening. A lot of the time, it’s about reminding yourself that you’re under the influence of a psychotropic substance, and to simply do your best to relax and let it wash over you. Here are some helpful tips in case you find yourself in such a situation.

Try to calm down

Try To Calm Down

Easier said than done. But the key here is to divert your attention to something more calming, or at least distracting. A good way to do this is to change up your scenery. If possible, take a little stroll outside or find a serene, relaxing place to sit down for a while. You’d be surprised what mixing up the location can do for your mental state.

Drink water

Not only can drinking water help to ease the dry mouth that cannabis tends to bring on, but it will also do its part to make your overall high feel less catastrophic. When in doubt, hydrate!

Breathe deeply

People who go through episodes of paranoia often forget to breathe properly, which is what leads them down the dark road of anxious thoughts that eventually spiral into a panic attack.

If you feel like weed is making you panic, immediately try to regulate your breathing. Take deep inhales and slow exhales until you feel yourself calm down. It may take some practice to develop this habit, but once you do, you’ll be able to nip weed-induced panic in the bud before it lays claim to your stoned body.

Try CBD

Try CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is often thought of as a THC equaliser when taken in higher doses. This non-psychotropic cannabinoid is suspected to lower the psychotropic potential of THC, possibly helping to mitigate a bad THC experience (Solowij et al., 2019).

Listen to music you like

A good song can do a lot for your current state of mind. And listening to music that you don’t enjoy can bring out the worst feelings in you. If you think you’re about to spin out, try putting on some of your favourite music—tunes that remind you of yourself at your best. Just be sure to pick songs that are more calming than agitating.

Eat something sweet

Eat Something Sweet

Eating something sweet, like a piece of candy or a slice of fruit, will increase your blood sugar and divert your senses. Especially if it’s one of your favourite delicacies and treats, you can turn an ugly situation around and get back to feeling like yourself.

How to avoid a bad cannabis trip

Prevention, as they say, is always better than a cure. With that in mind, here are some ways to avoid a bad cannabis trip.

Take low doses

One of the first pieces of advice you’ll hear when trying weed for the first time is to “start low and slow”. It’s like eating small bites of a burger to not make yourself feel full right away. If you want to avoid a bad cannabis trip, do the same thing—take one toke at a time. You’ll thank yourself later.

Avoid smoking if you’re feeling down

As mentioned earlier, your mental and emotional state pre-consumption will affect how your trip turns out. As such, avoid smoking if you’re feeling down, irritable, or just not good, overall. Don’t waste your stash on a bad experience. After all, cannabis is about generating good vibes, so try to keep it that way.

Related article

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Place yourself in a relaxing environment

Place Yourself In A Relaxing Environment

When we say a good environment, we mean a comfortable spot with good music and a fun, relaxing vibe. Avoid places that will hinder you from truly relaxing.

Surround yourself with people you trust and enjoy being with

Piggybacking on the previous point, it pays to be amongst people you trust and feel at ease with. Whether they’re your family or friends, make it a point to have the right folks with you.

Get enough sleep

When you lack sleep, you feel groggy and unable to function properly. And if you also smoke while in this state, you could be in for a troublesome experience. So make sure you get the right amount of shut-eye beforehand.

Bad weed trips: It will all be alright in the end

Bad Weed Trips: It Will All Be Alright In The End

Like every situation in life, a bad cannabis trip shall pass, eventually. Just ride it out, embrace the feeling, and it will all be over before you know it.

But if you don’t want to be in this kind of situation to begin with, take note of our suggested preventive measures, and keep your relationship with weed positive!

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
With an AB Mass Media and Communications degree, Miguel Ordoñez is a veteran writer of 13 years and counting and has been covering cannabis-related content since 2017. Continuous, meticulous research along with personal experience has helped him build a deep well of knowledge on the subject.
Disclaimer:
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. Solowij, N., Broyd, S., Greenwood, L.-marie, van Hell, H., Martelozzo, D., Rueb, K., Todd, J., Liu, Z., Galettis, P., Martin, J., Murray, R., Jones, A., Michie, P. T., & Croft, R. (2019). A randomised controlled trial of vaporised Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol alone and in combination in frequent and infrequent cannabis users: Acute intoxication effects. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 269(1), 17–35. - https://doi.org
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