Marijuana Addiction and Tolerance Breaks
WHAT IS A TOLERANCE BREAK?
Many people who habitually use marijuana begin to develop a tolerance to Delta-9 THC. A THC tolerance is a reduction in your sensitivity to the effects of THC. Tolerance is developed by frequent use. With a tolerance, using the same amount of THC you used previously will affect you noticeably less than it did then.
Once you develop a tolerance (for anything from THC to coffee), you need to consume more of it each time in order to feel the same effects. If a half-gram joint gets a newbie smoker somewhat high, then it may take twenty of those same joints in order to get a habitual smoker to feel a comparable high.
Many people in the cannabis community pride themselves for their preternaturally high tolerance, but others try to reduce their tolerance every chance they get.
WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE TOLERANCE BREAKS?
Most people who look to reduce their tolerance are doing it for one of a few reasons. Firstly, weed is expensive, and using less of it (to get the same amount of high) means using less money.
Second, it’s fun: don’t you remember when you used to get absolutely fried off of a pipsqueak nug smoked through an applecore? (No? Just me?) Well, with a low tolerance, it’s much easier and quicker for you to get baked, so it’s a bit like you’re a beginner canna-fan again.
But that’s not it: it’s also healthy for your brain to get a break, as frequent and repeated THC use diminishes your CB1 cannabinoid receptors. A brain break lets you refocus your life and its trajectory with a clear mind.
People take tolerance breaks for a variety of other reasons too: maybe they are visiting their in-laws for the weekend and need to be mentally sharp, maybe they forgot what it’s like to be clear-headed for a week, or maybe they just ran out of weed.
Everyone is different, so their reasons for taking a tolerance break differ too. We ought to respect people’s decisions to take a tolerance break (or quit cannabis entirely) because we can never know their inner lives—how their experiences with drugs are affecting them internally.
CAN YOU BE ADDICTED TO WEED?
So, whenever a friend seems intent on taking a tolerance break, be sure to support them as much as they need it! Some people need more support than others. And while cannabis addiction may not be as rampant or damaging as the opioid crisis, it is silly to assume that you can’t get addicted to cannabis.
A cannabis addiction is not the impossibility you may have heard from urban legend: while cannabis is much less physically addicting for your body than most drugs, it is still completely possible to become addicted.
In fact, it is possible to get addicted to just about anything (see “My Strange Addiction”). The threat of an addiction is certainly more prevalent when using a substance that makes your body dependent on itm, but in reality you can get addicted to anything from substances to submarine modeling. You can be addicted to physical objects like drugs or food, but you can also be addicted to feelings, people, routines, or any other number of things. In fact, a lot of marijuana users may feel as though they are addicted to marijuana, when in reality they may be addicted to the routine of smoking, or the feelings it brings about.
Not all addictions are inherently bad, but it is important to remember that if you’re addicted to something—and it's generally deteriorating your happiness or quality of life—then you should pause and consider your relationship with yourself and the subject at-hand. If you want to live your life a certain way, but a drug or something else is stopping you from being able to do what you know you want to, then you may have to consider whether you are facing an addiction.
TOLERANCE BREAK AND MARIJUANA ADDICTION
If you feel you may be addicted to marijuana (or being in smoking circles with your friends, or the feelings weed amplifies, or anything related to marijuana consumption), then it may be worth it to take a tolerance break and view your situation from a clear-headed, outside perspective. After all, you can’t tell you’re in water if you’ve lived your whole life in the ocean: you need to step onto the beach to see it and recognize where you’ve been.
With that being said, tolerance breaks are not only for addiction-afflicted individuals. Like we mentioned in the beginning, there are myriad reasons for taking a tolerance break. These include: saving money, giving your brain a break, letting your cannabinoid receptors replenish, staying sharp for extended periods, and any other number of personal reasons.
Ultimately, the decision to take a tolerance break is a personal one, and should be made with your own best interests in mind.