Cannabis Tolerance Break
What is a tolerance break?
A tolerance break, also known as a ‘T-break’, is when someone who regularly consumes or smokes marijuana takes a scheduled break from using it in all of its forms (edibles, joints and vapes etc.). A T-break can be for any length of time, for example, a person might decide to take 7-days, 21-days or even a year off from using cannabis. During this period the person abstains completely from using.
How can it help?
You may have noticed that over time the ‘peak high’ from smoking doesn’t last as long as when you were younger. With the regular use of marijuana your body's tolerance increases, causing you to need increasing amounts to experience the level of high. Taking a T-break allows your body's marijuana tolerance level to be reduced or even reset to how it used to be. When you decide to come back to smoking cannabis you may find that you need to consume less weed than when you first started your break. Generally, taking a T-break every so often gives you more insight and control over your general usage. Through experiencing and then dealing with withdrawal symptoms of a T-break, you potentially help yourself develop a mindset and experience that helps overcome urges to use in the future.
The Endocannabinoid System
T-breaks also help restore balance in your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in your ability to regulate stress, digestion, sleep and normal body health.
While we won’t get too much into the details here, it’s important to know that the THC in cannabis binds to the existing CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body. Normally, your body would produce its own cannabinoid compounds for this process and these receptors, only less often and in lesser amounts. Regular use of THC can overwhelm these receptors overtime and challenge the system, both in terms of natural cannabinoid production and on the receiving end via the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Reducing the amount of cannabinoids introduced to your body from consuming THC can help bring your endocannabinoid system back to homeostasis, its natural state of being. This helps keep your own endocannabinoid system functioning without being overwhelmed or stressed. You can also help benefit this system naturally by doing things like exercise, yoga, increasing sleep and eating healthy foods.
When should you consider a tolerance break?
- You find that you need to md need more weed to experience the same level of high. In other words, your marijuana tolerance has become quite high.
- You are spending too much money on marijuana.
- It has become such a big part of your life that your goals and responsibilities are suffering as a result.
- You feel like you would not be able to be creative enough without it.
- Your use of it causes you to feel guilty as you may be using it to escape your life challenges.
What to expect
You will most likely experience some level of discomfort due to your body’s physical and mental withdrawal from THC and the other compounds in cannabis. While this generally varies amongst users, it usually is associated with the amount of THC you consume regularly while not on a tolerance break. If you smoke marijuana heavily, you will probably experience the effect of the withdrawals more than someone who may only consume occasionally. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different.
Common symptoms of withdrawal for cannabis users:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Reduced appetite
- Tiredness / weakness
- Trouble concentrating
- Intense and vivid dreams
You may be familiar with a feeling of uncomfortableness you get when you would like to smoke for an extended period of time, but haven’t gotten the chance. You may classify that as feeling edgy or anxious. In most people this growing sense of anxiety leads them to use it quickly to provide relief. Remember, taking a break from a regular habit can be very tough, both physically and mentally. Coffee drinkers experience this when they go a week without their morning ritual of consuming caffeine. Habits that you’ve formed in your life can be uncomfortable when broken or paused. Even if you are not a daily user you can still experience cravings to use during your tolerance break. Keep in mind, experiencing cravings and withdrawals when stopping something is a sign that your body/mind have formed an addition to it. Learning that you CAN handle these feelings and get through it helps you to break the attachment you have to that substance.
How to prepare?
The first step is to mentally prepare by reminding yourself that while it may be a tough process, you can and will get through it. Nothing is permanent and the uneasy feelings will pass. Your reward at the end will be a better version of yourself.
Understand that habits are a function of triggers, which is an event that automatically creates an urge to do something. Waking up in the morning and sitting outside your front door to watch the sunrise may be a triggering event. This may be something that you normally do every day as your wake up ritual. Anything your brain associates with smoking will alert an automatic response which you cannot control.
Determine the times you normally smoke and consider the triggers during those times. Just acknowledging these triggers may be enough to mitigate them. If not, try your best to avoid those situations.
Friends and family can be a big source of triggers, both in terms of association and social pressure.
Inform friends and family ahead of time that you are planning on going on a break. Waiting until you are in a situation in which your friend group is using causes you to find a way to explain your tolerance break on the fly.
You can use environments with lack of triggers in your favor by spending extra time in situations where you aren’t facing constant reminders to use. For example, if you don’t use it at work and you are able to pick up extra shifts to work more, you may find it helps reduce the amount of triggers you face. This can also work with spending more time with family or friends who don’t consume regularly.
Tools Tips & Tricks
- Avoid triggers such as places, events, persons or things that would cause you to experience increased cravings.
- Inform the people close to you that you are pausing your use of marijuana for the period you selected. This would help with accountability and support.
- Remove all forms of marijuana and paraphernalia from your environment (i.e., your home or car etc.)
- Have a go-to practice that you can do whenever you feel like you might give in to your craving; such as meditating, exercising or reciting a motivational quote etc.
- Immerse yourself in a hobby or activity that you enjoy or would like to try.
- Keep something with you that would act as a constant reminder to stay on track until the end. For example, an inspirational keychain or prayer beads.
- Day off of work or school if your symptoms are bad, etc.
- Talk it out. Find support. Etc. Sense of Community.
Coming back from a tolerance break
- Respect and Ritual
- Measure urges and counter with values
- Schedule creative time for usage
- Check in with an accountability partner, a counselor, a confidant
- Take a walk when urge comes
- Keep a journal, write down how you feel and thoughts leading to urges
- Build and stick to daily routine