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How to Get “Unhigh”: Tips on Dealing with a Bad High

Hayley Heidelbaugh
January 26, 2024

From classic remedies to experimental hacks floating around the internet, you’ll come across plenty of tips for sobering up quickly when you think you’re too high. Some of them are partly effective, but many are just the stoner equivalent of old wives’ tales. That said, an uncomfortable THC buzz can often be managed if you know in advance how to handle it.

Cannabis products aren’t perfect, and adverse reactions can occur. Dealing with severe THC-induced anxiety or paranoia is especially scary—and it’s not just traditional marijuana that can cause problems. Hemp-derived HHC or delta 8 THC products can also cause anxiety or even panic. Don’t assume delta 8 carts and delta 8 disposables are the perfect fix if you’re a weed vaper sensitive to THC.

However, it’s definitely possible to minimize your risk of an uncomfortable high or distract yourself when it happens. You can’t turn back time, but there are ways to manage the ride.

How long should a high last?

The length of someone’s high depends on the dose consumed, method of consumption, tolerance, and a slew of physiological (and probably psychological) factors. Even genetics plays a big role.

THC’s psychoactive effects can last a while if you’re a new user or consumed an extremely high dose. Individuals with certain health conditions may also notice their highs lasting longer than desired.

The hardest-hitting effects of THC usually fade within a few hours, peaking within the first hour if you’re vaping or smoking. Edibles are metabolized more slowly and stay in your system longer. After a too-large dose, high-THC gummies or other digestible products can keep you high for ten hours or more.

How can I tell if I’m too high?

The “too high” goalpost sits somewhere different for every user. It usually means a fairly brief period of feeling overwhelmed by your senses and environment, and it soon calms into an intense but enjoyable state. But sometimes you might really overdo it, and the too-high feeling gets even worse.

A handful of reactions are definite markers for a bad THC experience, and are likely to cause varying degrees of real distress. Stop consuming weed immediately if you notice these:

  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Racing heart
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Reduced motor coordination
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Slurring or incoherent speech
  • Vomiting

For most people, even these severe reactions fade, and they learn a valuable lesson about how much is too much for them. But, for some people, an extreme high can lead into more dangerous territory.

True cannabis toxicity is rare in non-pediatric patients but can lead to acute symptoms of psychosis—which should fade if there’s no underlying condition. Individuals with an anxiety disorder or a history of panic attacks should proceed with care. Large doses of weed may put these users, as well as those with bipolar disorder, at an increased risk of adverse psychological effects.

Weed can’t kill you, but it can make you feel like you’re dying—and if you’re already at risk of severe psychological distress, you might have more to lose than to gain from using cannabis. It’s not for everyone. If you’re not getting anything positive out of using weed, there’s no shame in stopping.

Our body’s response to cannabis can be unpredictable, of course, and bad side effects aren’t always preventable. Try developing a plan before you’re struck by a bad high.

How to avoid getting too high (“greening out”)

The easiest way to steer clear of an unpleasant high is to prevent it altogether. It’s best to avoid “greening out” to begin with.

Some users are predisposed to greening out, yet won’t know it before their first few uses. Those new to weed usually have the lowest tolerance and should proceed with the greatest caution.

Monitor your dose

This is especially essential if you’re a brand-new user. The more cautious and meticulous, the better. Portioned products are a good pick for dose-conscious users already familiar with their limits.

Start by taking a closer look at the manufacturer’s recommended serving. As long as you’re buying from trusted retailers with transparent safety testing, you can typically gauge the potency of your product. Determining the exact dosage is simplest if you’re working with edibles.

Serving sizes vary between cannabinoids due to differences in potency. A marijuana gummy may contain five to ten milligrams of THC, while the delta 8 alternative could feature twice that. However, since marijuana-derived delta 9 THC is about twice as strong as delta 8 THC, the different-sized doses might produce similar effects. HHC gummies commonly land in the middle.

With carts and disposable vapes, there’s trial and error involved. A couple of short puffs could be all you need.

Beginners shouldn’t jump into a product that’s too THC-heavy. Whether you’re leaning in the hemp- and marijuana-derived direction, consider something that blends psychoactive cannabinoids with nonintoxicating ones, such as CBD. A blend that includes CBD seems to smooth the rough edges of a high-THC experience for some people, possibly reducing the likelihood of an anxiety response.

We don’t recommend smoking over healthier methods. Pre-rolled joints are still an option for new users, but start with a half-gram or smaller and don’t go with the most potent strain.

Pace yourself

Go slow, especially if you’re new to weed or have previously experienced adverse effects. Don’t bump up your dose before even reaching the starting line.

When vaping, begin with a couple of hits under three seconds each, then wait for the high to settle in. Give it twenty minutes before you assume you won’t get higher. Then, you can cautiously take another hit and wait to see how you feel. If you’re smoking, don’t feel pressured to barrel through a joint. Smoke a little bit, then wait.

With edibles, remember you don’t have to always consume a full gummy or a full serving of another edible product. Beginning with half or less is the best option for new users, though you’ll have to wait longer to reach your peak. THC doesn’t enter the bloodstream as efficiently via digestion. The majority of users will be high within a couple of hours, give or take. You may need even less time, but don’t consume more until at least two hours have passed.

Don’t combine cannabis with certain substances

Don’t mix cannabis with alcohol, for one. More innocuous substances can also backfire. Your risk of negative effects, including the severe examples described above, may increase as your metabolism struggles to keep up. Medications sharing THC’s adverse side effects are also likely to cause problems.

Those on daily medications should talk to their prescriber and research potential drug interactions. Even if you’re only taking an allergy pill, it’s worth looking into.

There’s limited evidence that anti-inflammatory medications—including common painkillers like ibuprofen—may help mellow out a high. Look for over-the-counter drugs that inhibit inflammation-related COX enzymes. Just check that the exact substance doesn’t interact poorly with THC, and use only the dose recommended for your weight. Consult a healthcare provider if you’re at all uncertain.

Stick to high-CBD strains

Several researchers have linked CBD consumption to a reduction in THC’s psychotropic effects. High-CBD cannabis strains may help temper intoxication, making them a better option for those with a low tolerance or users prone to negative effects.

Regularly consuming high-CBD flower or similar CBD products might also reduce THC tolerance. Highly tolerant users ingest more THC, working through products faster and elevating the risk of overconsumption.

Do research before heading to the dispensary, or speak to a representative when you get there. The ratio of THC to CBD can vary drastically between strains. Particularly high-CBD strains—Sweet and Sour Widow and Royal Highness are two examples— contain an equal helping of the two cannabinoids. Some, like Harlequin, contain more CBD than THC.

Exact ratios vary between batches of bud, so don’t forget to check the testing to get an exact cannabinoid breakdown. Vape carts and disposables are typically more consistent. Regardless, pull up the product’s certificate of analysis (COA) or check the label if you’re unsure.

High-CBD marijuana strains typically contain less THC, helping users better pace themselves. The effects generally don’t hit as hard, and the high can be shorter-lived—all positives for new users or those predisposed to anxiety.

Do your research

Stay inquisitive and research products, strains, or manufacturers before giving any products a shot. Always explore:

  • Potency: If you’re buying bud, check the THC percentage. Vape products and edibles will give you a breakdown of their THC concentration.
  • User feedback: Customer reviews or anecdotes can be useful, but they won’t provide the full picture. Use them to get a better sense of a brand and their quality. Check for patterns in reported effects, as well. But remember that strain names may be unreliable; sellers can slap any strain name on a batch of weed.
  • Other cannabinoids: Confirm which cannabinoids the product contains, and in what concentrations. What are their typical effects, alone and combined with THC?
  • Third-party testing: Psychoactive hemp products, including hemp-derived THC carts, aren’t regulated in the United States. Trusted retailers will outsource safety testing and post a COA for consumers to view. If no testing is available, don’t buy it.
  • Recommended dose: Don’t stop at THC content. Verify the manufacturer’s recommended dose, and feel free to begin with less. Never consume more than a single serving at once if you’re a new user.

Take a T-break (tolerance break)

Maybe it’s counterintuitive, but taking a break from cannabis to rebuild tolerance can help mitigate bad highs.

High tolerances lead users to consume increasingly large amounts of weed. When your baseline dose is constantly going up, you won’t have a clear idea of how much to take. This often leads people to ingest more cannabis than their bodies can handle.

Consider putting hemp or marijuana use on hold for at least three weeks. Long-term users may require longer, but in general, this is enough to reset your system. Just be aware that you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you’re a chronic user.

Steer clear of illicit marijuana or hemp products

It goes without saying, but you can never predict the strength of your high if you’re consuming untested hemp or marijuana.

Psychoactive hemp may be legal in most areas of the United States, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for whatever’s available. Since hemp is unregulated, third-party testing is all we have to verify contents and safety.

Always check for a COA before buying hemp-based vape products or edibles. Without this document, there’s no way to confirm:

  • Cannabinoids in the product
  • THC concentration
  • Potential contaminants

Legal marijuana is heavily regulated in the United States and should only be purchased from licensed dispensaries. If you’re not sure of a product’s potency or predicted effects, be sure to ask a representative for guidance. In most legal states, regulated cannabis products also include test results, including cannabinoid content.

How to get unhigh more easily

Quick spoiler: there’s no way to cut your high off at will. It’s better to avoid a bad high before it happens than it is to bounce back quickly. However, there are strategies for dealing with an unwelcome high when it’s too late for prevention.

Distract without overstimulating

We’re not saying to lock yourself in a silent, dark room if you’re too high. That will almost certainly do more harm than good. Select users may benefit from meditation or breathing exercises, though.

Stick to simple distractions and avoid overwhelming yourself with too much auditory or visual feedback. Enough to redirect your mind, but not enough to distress yourself further. Overstimulation isn’t known to combat anxiety.

Focusing on a tangible activity can help ground you and shift attention away from the high. If you’re seeking to distract yourself without getting even more stressed, try:

  • Listening to music
  • Doing simple cleaning tasks (like organizing)
  • Watching TV or videos
  • Sketching
  • Picking up a coloring book
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Taking a shower
  • Going for a walk

Talk to a friend or loved one

Bad highs can trigger anxiety or dissociation. To bring yourself back down to Earth, reach out to a trusted friend or loved one. If you have someone physically available to talk to, even better. Relax and keep the subjects of conversation light.

Don’t worry if you’d rather get through it on your own. Either way, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Take a nap (or go to bed)

Indica-dominant strains are more likely to promote tiredness than their sativa cohorts. Plus, some individuals are simply more prone than others to feeling sleepy after vaping, smoking a joint, or munching on edibles.

Most highs won’t last more than a few hours at peak intensity. If a one or two-hour nap is the shortcut through it, then a full night’s rest is the closest we have to a reset button.

Chew black peppercorns

It’s one of those old-school strategies that’s lingered in the cannabis sphere. Proponents of this tactic say that eating black peppercorns helps reduce symptoms of cannabis-induced anxiety or paranoia, and can help you come down more quickly from a high.

In fact, there is some scientific basis for these claims. Just don’t expect a miracle; peppercorns won’t eliminate the effects of overindulgence completely.

Black pepper contains a chemical known as caryophyllene—a common compound in many marijuana strains—which straddles the line between terpene and cannabinoid. It appears to be a CB2 agonist and may have anti-inflammatory or anti-anxiety properties. Caryophyllene might have a good deal in common with CBD, although further research is needed to cement that link.

Two additional terpenes in black pepper, pinene and myrcene, could also contribute to this outcome. Pinene seems to reduce anxiety or symptoms of depression. Myrcene may act as a sedative. Alongside THC, the variety of terpenes in black pepper could work synergistically to bolster their own effects.

Just be careful not to inhale pepper along the way. Stick to whole peppercorns and chew; don’t sniff. Be sure to have a beverage handy, too.

picture of mixed color pepper corns

Eat a healthy snack

Again, distractions go a long way when you’re fighting off a bad high. Even the act of preparing and eating a simple meal, such as a bowl of cereal, can help redirect the mind.

We brought up peppercorns earlier, but other foods that contain high levels of caryophyllene or calming terpenes are:

  • Pine nuts
  • Lemon
  • Broccoli
  • Pistachios

None of these foods will extinguish your high entirely. It may be just as beneficial to stay occupied with nutritious foods you already enjoy. Crackers, carrots with hummus, and popcorn are all healthy options with minimal required prep. You can even sprinkle black pepper on top.

Finally, enjoy your snack with a glass of water on the side. Hydration can’t hurt and may soothe the worst of cottonmouth. Better yet, squeeze a bit of lemon into your drink for a possible double whammy.

The truest fix: get comfortable and wait it out

Sadly, time is the only guaranteed solution for an unwelcome high.

Get comfortable, and don’t overthink it. Your high will pass on its own, and the vast majority of symptoms will vanish before you’re sober. Being in the thick of it can be distressing, but you’ll reach the other side soon—maybe with a story to tell, and some sage advice for your friends.

I'm a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I'm eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.
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