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What to Do When You’re Too High: A Beginner’s Guide

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There’s a fine line between riding high and getting lost in space. Whether you use cannabis for recreational or medical reasons, you probably know this all too well. One moment, everything makes you laugh, and the next, you’re 90% sure there’s a ghost in your bathtub. Sound like you? Don’t worry. That ghost is probably your shower curtain, and we’re here to help.

It’s nearly impossible to overdose on weed, but if you’re uncomfortable with your high, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety, paranoia, nausea, dizziness, extreme brain fog, and/or even mild hallucinations when they’ve consumed more herb than their bodies are able to process normally.

But once you’re this high, how do you come down? To find the answer, we consulted the experts – Heather Despres, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access, Dr. Leigh Vinocur, member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, and the research of Dr. Ethan B. Russo, neurologist and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

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Here’s what they had to say:

What to eat:

While your first impulse might be to stuff yourself with carbs, remember that man cannot live by bread alone – especially when stoned. What you eat when marijuana is in your system has a big impact on your high. So, when the munchies strike, strategy is key.

If you’re feeling anxious or paranoid because of your high, black peppercorn (chewed, sniffed, or shaken into a glass of water and swallowed) will subdue the psychoactive effects of THC and enhance its powers as a sedative. This is thanks to a terpene and in pepper called beta-caryophyllene, which, when combined with weed, produces a powerful sense of calm, according to a research article by Dr. Ethan B. Russo, published in 2011 by the British Journal of Pharmacology.

One of the oldest and most popular remedies for flying too high is lemon juice. Like beta-caryophyllene, the reason for this is a terpene. According to Russo’s research, the terpene limonene that is found in lemons (and other citrus fruits) acts to calm THC-induced anxiety by increasing the serotonin in the brain. So, when life gives you lemons, save some for the next time you’re too high.

On the flip side, if you feel overly sedated and need to become more alert, Americans for Safe Access recommends pine nuts. These little guys have a terpene called pinene in them that clears up the brain fog and increases awareness. And, since pinene is responsible for the unique scent of pine trees, you can also reap its benefits by sniffing pine essential oils.

RELATED: Terpenes: What Are They and What Do They Do?

What to drink:

The answer to this one is short: water. Not only will water help flush THC from your bloodstream (and, of course, keep cottonmouth at bay), but the repeated act of sipping helps relieve anxiety, one of the most common psychoactive effects of consuming too much weed.

“When people show up to the ER thinking they are dangerously high, they are usually just set down on a hospital bed and given a glass of water to sip on,” Vinocur said. “Water attacks the high on two levels – it gets the THC out of your system and also makes you feel calm through focused, repeated action.”

What to do:

According to Americans for Safe Access, taking long, deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth for an extended period of time is a fool-proof way to come down when you’re flying a bit too high. However, that’s often easier said than done.

Since focusing on your breath can seem nearly impossible when your high is giving you anxiety, paranoia, or a full-blow panic attack, it’s usually easier to focus your attention on a calming, repetitive task. This could be anything from taking a hot bath to watching your favorite sit com, so long as you try your best to stay as present as possible in it – focusing only on the task or scene at hand. The goal with this is to calm your mind, which, in turn, will regulate your breathing and make it easier for you to take longer, deeper sips of air.

“When you’re hyperventilating, the goal is to not lose so much carbon dioxide that you begin feeling dizzy,” Vinocur told GreenState. “Breathing into a paper bag will do this, but to really regulate your breath, you have to do something that takes your attention away from the paranoia. Even something as simple as listening to calming music can work. As long as the thing you do grabs your attention and you do it in a safe space, you should notice your breath regulating soon.”

Lastly, there’s not much a good night’s sleep can’t fix. While you may still suffer from dry mouth the morning after you’ve consumed a lot of herb, and might find you’ve slept longer than you usually do (sometimes by a long shot), Vinocur told GreenState that weed hangovers are, while real, very rare, so odds are you’ll feel much more clear-headed the morning after your personal hempfest.

“I’ve never had a patient who didn’t feel completely sober 10-12 hours after consuming marijuana,” Vinocur said. “You can try home remedies to speed up the process, but if you’ve really smoked a lot, the easiest thing to do is just sleep it off.”

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Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to elli.esher@hearst.com.