The Effects of Marijuana Concentrates and Their Abuse
Marijuana concentrate has become its own culture. As a growing trend, especially for young people, it is no surprise to hear that it is often the preferred variant of THC intoxication. Concentrates are primarily found in the USA, especially in states which have medical or legalized marijuana. However, abuse and addiction is still a very real threat. Moreover, the risks of smoking concentrated THC go beyond any potential health effect which those in favor of the drug may believe.
What is Marijuana Concentrate?
Marijuana concentrate is an extremely potent extract of THC or marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol. It is thick, sticky or gummy and in a brown to green color. (Think about candle wax being melted onto paper and left to dry.) The drug is said to be like smoking 4 -5 joints of medical grade marijuana. “This is pot on steroids,” said Kevin Winslow, director of the Quad-City Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG), in an interview with Healthline.
When smoked, the high is almost instantaneous and can last for several hours. Smoking can involve a bong, pipe or electronic cigarettes. The later is one of the most emerging ways in which the concentrates are abused; this is because there is no taste or odor. Other ways a person may use the drug include adding it to food items or beverages.
Alternative Terms for Marijuana Concentrate
Alternative or slang terms change on a regular basis and vary regionally across the globe. The DEA suggests the most current terms for THC concentrate include 710 (“OIL” upside down and spelled backwards), ear wax, honey oil, honey wax, BHO, shatter, black glass, errl and most recently dabs or dabbing.
Psychological and Physical Effects of Concentrates
Shatter or THC concentrates stimulate the same areas within the brain which heroin, cocaine and alcohol reaches. The effects of standard marijuana vary from those related to using THC concentrates. Moreover, depending on how it is used will depend on the psychological and physical effects of marijuana and shatter use.
Euphoria is often the most common effect, followed by relaxation and a heightened sense of perception. Some individuals may feel an increase in appetite and others may feel very drowsy or sleepy. The actual impact significantly changes with each user, how often the use and the strength of the drug.
While this may seem like no big deal, using THC concentrates can produce additional physical and psychological effects. According to the NIH
• Paranoia • Delirium • Anxiety • Panic/Fear • Delusions/ Hallucinations • Increase in blood pressure • Blood shot eyes • Weight gain • Lung and/or throat infections
In addition to the above, there is new evidence which shows that people who have a history of schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, bipolar disorder or psychosis may be at a greater risk of experiencing a breakdown or mental health episode.
Another risk of using such high concentrates of THC is the mixing of other drugs. It is not uncommon for users to consume alcohol, cocaine or prescription medications along with the concentrate. When combined, the effects can become increasingly stronger and could include slowed breathing, cardiac arrest, impaired motor skills and injury.
Coming down from shatter or dabs can cause an individual to feel exhausted, moody or depressed. It can also begin to heighten agitation, insomnia and irritability. These feelings can be especially observed when a frequent abuser of marijuana concentrates has not used and is going through a withdrawal.
Potential Dangers of Abusing Marijuana Concentrates
Since the advent of medical marijuana and legalization, the demand for stronger variants has been on the rise. This has led organizations like the Mexican Cartel to put their efforts back into opium and black tar heroin because they cannot keep up with the growers in the US. The primary issue with marijuana concentration is the strength and potency of the drug; which far exceeds dried buds. Standard marijuana has about 10-15% THC while concentrations can be between 80-90% THC when dabbing. This is a huge increase and one of the core reasons there is such a growing concern over its use.
Dabs have also received negative attention due to possible dangers associated with making the BHO. The process involves butane gas which is used to extract the THC. This is then heated at a high temperature to evaporate the butane leaving the thick concentrate of THC. The process is not easy and can be fumbled by novice beginners. Risks include toxic chemicals being inhaled as well as building up in a closed environment (bedroom, closet, garage, etc.). These vapors could cause fires, small explosions and injury.
Dabbing allows the abuser to absorb more THC in a shorter amount of time. The effects within the body will be amplified; so too is the developing of a tolerance as well as the withdrawal symptoms. The amount of THC used can also cause profuse negative reactions, especially compared to traditional marijuana use (smoking the plant). A frequent user of shatter (often with a mental health issue) could have paranoia, anxiety, dizziness and delusions.
Exposure to Contaminants
Dabs, especially when coming from areas which are not regulated, could be contaminated with a variety of chemicals or even solvents. Although concentrates should contain little to no butane, if low-grade or recycled butane was indeed used, impurities could be left in the drug. Consider the potential for pesticides or herbicides used to grow the plant and the individual could face a number of associated health aliments.
Is Addiction to THC Concentrates Real?
Yes. This is a drug and while there are people (cancer, Parkinson’s etc. patients) who may benefit from small amounts, there are a number of people who abuse it. Moreover, those who are using it to escape a trauma like PTSD or depression will often become dependent on getting high rather than treat the underlying problem. Eventually, and in any case, a tolerance will build. The person will need to use more to relieve the problem (if any). When they stop, their problems will come back and oftentimes, it’s worse.
With Marijuana, there is a risk of addiction especially after a tolerance has been formed. When the drug wears off and is not re-used, a person could go through withdrawal. Although not as intense as a heroin or cocaine withdrawal, THC concentrate withdrawal can cause irritability, depression, anger, doubt or fear. It could also cause nausea, vomiting and a decrease in appetite. For many, this is very unpleasant. Keep in mind that all of these feelings increase when there are underlying issues involved (which is often the case).
If you or someone you know is getting into trouble (legal, school, work, family) because of using marijuana concentrates and/or feels stopping is impossible, there is a degree of substance abuse or addiction involved.
For many users, the idea of quitting and getting help for a THC concentrate addiction is scary. What’s important to understand is there are centers with caring, professional staff that can help someone overcome this addiction and begin to heal from the inside out.
Those with an addiction to shatter or dabbing should feel comforted in knowing that recovery is possible. The physical withdrawal and cravings are not as severe as other substances. Often those partaking in a marijuana concentrate rehabilitation program find the psychological addiction is the biggest challenge. Even more so are the people who have mental health issues like depression, PTSD and anxiety. This is when the THC concentration rehab facility is vital. These rehab programs can help people to work through problems, find healthier ways to cope with mental illness and discover alternatives to using drugs.
If you or someone you know has an addiction to THC concentrates and would like to seek the expertise of a rehab program, please contact our Chiang Rai Thailand Rehab Center.