Has your reaction to cannabis changed over time? Are you finding that you need to consume more to feel the same effect? Here we will explore cannabis tolerance levels and how they can change, so you can decide whether or not a tolerance break is right for you.
- A simple guide designed to help you understand your tolerance
- Explores the pros and cons of taking a tolerance break
- Tips and tricks for how to take a break if you need one
Why You Will Love This Guide
Cannabis affects everyone differently, and some people find that as their use progresses, the effects diminish.
This can be true whether you're smoking, vaping, using it under the tongue, or consuming edibles.
Recently a member of my Well With Cannabis Community asked:
"I'm not new to edibles and have been consuming 10mg every day for the past year. Recently I've noticed that I am not feeling the same anymore. Should I increase my dosage?"
My answer: maybe! Or maybe you just need a "tolerance break".
In this guide, you will learn more about what a tolerance break is, what the benefits and drawbacks are, and get my tips and tricks for taking a successful tolerance break if you need one.
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What Is Tolerance?
When regularly exposed to a chemical or compound, the human body develops a condition known as tolerance.
If a medicine, like cannabis, is consumed regularly, the increased tolerance causes the effects of a specific dose to diminish over time.
While tolerance is complex, we know it causes the body to require an ever-growing amount of a substance to produce the same effects.
Anyone who consumes regularly will eventually develop an increasingly higher tolerance to cannabis, especially THC. This can happen quickly if using cannabis concentrates often.
What Is a Tolerance Break?
A tolerance break is the planned temporary cessation and abstinence from all cannabis application methods.
This abstinence aims to reduce the levels of exogenous cannabinoids in the body and enable the body to reset its tolerance to THC.
A tolerance break can range anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks or even months.
Why You May Need A Break
Research in The Open Neurology Journal has found that the chemicals in cannabis, like pharmaceutical medications, can build up to levels that reduce the effectiveness and significantly influence the user's experience (1).
The need for more cannabis to achieve the same effects is where a tolerance break benefits many medical and recreational consumers.
However, if you aren't sure whether a tolerance break would help or aren't aware of the signs that you are developing a tolerance, there are a few things you should ask yourself:
- Am I consuming more today to achieve the same effects I once enjoyed?
- Am I consuming more frequently throughout the day?
- Has my smoking caused me to develop a chronic cough or congestion?
- Is my creativity stifled when I don't have cannabis?
If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, taking a cannabis tolerance break may benefit you in a few different ways.
First, not consuming for a few days may increase your mental clarity.
During this period, give yourself the time and perspective needed to reevaluate your physical and psychological health to determine if you need to make any adjustments to your current routine.
Second, abstaining from smoking or vaping will give your lungs a break and improve your lung function.
Finally, a tolerance break will increase the effectiveness of cannabis when you start using it again.
That means you will get a more intense high from less cannabis, which can save you money in the long run.
Tips for a Successful Tolerance Break
Cannabis and THC affect everyone differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all or precise recommended amount of time for a tolerance break.
However, research in Biological Psychiatry has found that in heavy users, THC levels drop by half in five to 13 days and in less than two days for casual users (2).
Depending on your usage level, you should give yourself at least a two-day break before expecting to see notable changes in your experience.
An actual tolerance break is quitting cold turkey and giving the body time to reset the endocannabinoid system.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with cannabis are not comparable to the physical symptoms of giving up alcohol or opioids.
You may notice some mild symptoms, but some people find that replacing CBD with THC can offset some of the irritability and anxiety a tolerance break may cause.
This can be done with CBD flower, CBD oil, or other CBD products.
Since cannabis withdrawal is more mental than physical, occupying your mind during this time will help.
Increasing your physical activity and getting some exercise can help with your mood, appetite, and sleep during a tolerance break.
Engaging in mentally stimulating hobbies or practices can also help. For example, read a good book, do a puzzle, play a mentally challenging game or pick up that musical instrument to keep yourself occupied.
Whether a cannabis tolerance break will benefit you is a personal decision. If you use cannabis for medical purposes, a tolerance break may not be right for you.
However, for many people, a few days of abstinence will help reset the system and enhance the effects of cannabis. If you're ready to take a tolerance break, but are looking for support along the way, be sure to join the Well With Cannabis Community!
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I use cannabis medicinally. I also use Farxiga for my diabetes. I find it interesting that no one is asking me if I need a tolerance break from my diabetes medication.
You make such an excellent point, Walter! Those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes should definitely look at tolerance breaks differently than recreational consumers 🙂 Thanks for sharing.