If you’re someone who uses cannabis regularly, you may notice over time that you’re experiencing a diminishing effect and you’re no longer getting the same results you used to. If this is the case, you may want to consider a tolerance break. A tolerance break simply means abstaining from THC to reset your tolerance.
There’s other reasons to give your body a break from THC as well- I say THC because there’s no need to go on a tolerance break from CBD. We don’t develop a tolerance to CBD because it interacts with our bodies endocannabinoid receptors in a different way.
Some research has suggested that we may need less CBD over time, as we may develop a “reverse tolerance” to CBD. Meaning we need less CBD to achieve the same results.
How do you know when it’s time to take a tolerance break? Here are 3 ways to know when it’s time to abstain from THC:
1. You’re using a lot more THC to achieve the same result
If you notice that you need to refill your bowl more often, or that your edible dose has doubled and you don’t feel the effects of THC as strongly as before, it’s time for a tolerance break.
Using higher and higher doses of THC works against you in a couple of ways. Frist of all, you could be making your symptoms worse (see number 3). You’ll also be burning a hole in your wallet.
Cannabis is expensive and if you’re needing higher doses then you’ll be spending a small fortune on cannabis products (unless you grow it yourself).
Too much THC can interfere with your daily life. If you find yourself forgetting to return emails or phone calls or that you’re not feeling very present, a tolerance break will help you get back on track.
2. You’re using cannabis out of habit and not with intention
It’s easy to reach for cannabis out of habit and not with intention. We may get used to using cannabis for certain activities or at certain times of the day, without thinking if it’s the right time to use cannabis.
Using cannabis with intention means being mindful of how much you’re consuming and when. Ask yourself if you really need cannabis right now, check in with your body and see, maybe it’s best to wait until later. However when we habitually reach for cannabis without thinking, we can end up using too much.
While it’s easy to reach for cannabis to get that happy buzz throughout the day, it’s important to asses your motives behind it. Perhaps cannabis is masking an emotion or problem you need to face, without the interference of THC. Sometimes when we’re dealing with some difficult emotions, too much THC can make us feel anxious.
If you find yourself mindlessly reaching for cannabis throughout the day, it may be beneficial to abstain from cannabis for a few days to break the habit.
3. Cannabis is making your symptoms worse, not better
This is especially true when you’re using cannabis to treat anxiety and depression. There’s a fine line with THC-where it’s therapeutic effects end and detrimental effects begin.
THC can make mental health issues worse if you’re using too much. Research has shown that when used in low doses, THC can improve depression and anxiety however in higher doses, the opposite is true.
A low dose (generally speaking) is under 10% THC in a cultivar and under 10mg in an edible. However this will be different for everyone.
For some people a high dose is 5mg and for others a high dose is 50mg. It really depends on your own body and it’s a good idea to keep track with a cannabis journal. This will help you see what dose works for you and when it’s too much and making you feel worse.
How long should you do a tolerance break?
This depends on how much you’re using. If you’ve been consuming Snoop Dogg levels of cannabis, you many want to take a longer break however for most people, a few days can be enough.
Ideally a week or two will reset your tolerance quite well. If you’re looking to flush THC from your system, aim for 30 days.
If you’ve been using high doses of THC regularly, you may experience a few symptoms the first day or two from not using cannabis, similar to what you feel when you cut out caffeine. Symptoms may include- insomnia, headache and some irritability. Try to relax, do meditation, drink a lot of water and get plenty of rest.
Cannabis isn’t addictive like other substances, as your body doesn’t become dependent upon it like it does nicotine. However you can develop a habitual attachment to THC, when you think you need more than you actually do. This is when a tolerance break will help you reset, so you can consume less to achieve the same result.
How to come back from a tolerance break
You’ll need be mindful of how much cannabis you consume after you finish your tolerance break. Start with a quarter of the dose you used before, so if you were using 10mg try taking only 2.5mg. If you were used to using high THC strains and smoking several joints a day, aim for one joint with a lower THC cultivar that’s high in CBD.
See how it feels at a much lower dose, if that’s not enough use a bit more next time. If you find you’re still needing as much as you did before, you may need to do a longer tolerance break.
How often should you take a tolerance break?
This is a highly individual thing, for example I do about one or two tolerance breaks a year. I use cannabis daily but usually only in the evening and I use it in lower doses. However if I start doing it too often during the day, I build up a tolerance so I take a break.
Some of you may prefer to abstain a few days a month, it really depends on you’re own personal preference and how you feel. If you only do cannabis a couple of times a week, you likely won’t need a tolerance break.
Do a tolerance break when you know it’s time, when you feel you’re overconsuming and you know you need a break. If you’re finding it hard to take a tolerance break, ask yourself why. Be very honest, is it because you’re under a lot of stress and cannabis is helping, or is it because you don’t like the idea of being without it?
I recommend everyone who uses cannabis on a regular basis (excluding medical patients) take a tolerance break as often as needed, as this will help you keep a healthy balance with your cannabis consumption.