A drug commonly known as “dabs” is marijuana extract (primarily butane hash oil or BHO) that is usually administered by smoking or vaping. “Dabbing” can be a bit riskier than other forms of marijuana use due to the potency of BHO. Like other forms of marijuana, the act of smoking dabs is not life-threatening. However, it can result in adverse effects, including anxiety, paranoia, and heart palpitations.
Butane is an extremely flammable chemical involved in the production of dabs, a highly-concentrated form of marijuana. This process can lead to explosions and is, therefore, hazardous. Dabs are produced by pouring butane over marijuana, which causes the THC to leave the plant material and dissolve into the butane.
The resulting butane-THC solution is then pressed through a filter and is placed in a dish or tray. The butane is removed, and a gummy or resinous solid product, high in THC, remains. This smokable extract can be as high as 80% THC. By comparison, regular marijuana is usually only about 12-13% THC. As such, much less of the substance is needed to produce a high, but still, side effects can be more intense.
BHO can be smoked through a pipe or glass bong. It can also be vaporized, a method that offers a smokeless way to use marijuana that is easier to conceal than actually smoking it. BHO can also be ingested as an edible, a route of administration that has been reported to result in a much more powerful high than smoking and has resulted in fainting and breathing problems.
Risks of Smoking Dabs
Because dabbing involves ingesting a much higher THC concentration than in regular marijuana, physical and mental effects may be more intense. Also, according to at least one study, potentially cancer-causing chemicals are released when the oil is heated at temperatures exceeding 750 degrees and that benzene, a known carcinogen, is released when the heat is above 932 degrees. Although not recommended, heating dabs at high temperatures is often done to produce more intense effects.
In addition to the obvious risk of fire, explosions, and burns, this process can also result in a person inhaling benzene or rust, both of which have been associated with chronic health issues. Furthermore, more than 80% of marijuana concentrates are reported to be contaminated with pesticides or residual solvent.
A study from the Journal of Medical Toxicology examined cases in which subjects suffered from BHO burns. Findings revealed that the median burn size was 10% of a patient’s body surface area, and the average length of time that patients required hospitalization was ten days. More than 20% of patients needed intubation to protect their airway, and more than 60% needed skin grafts.
It is important to mention that not all of the possible dangers of dabbing are wholly understood, primarily because not enough research has been conducted. It has been suggested, however, that dabbing may be associated with an increased risk of falls, accidents, and injuries than regular marijuana use.
Dab Drug Abuse and Withdrawal
Some have reported developing a higher tolerance and more severe withdrawal symptoms related to dabbing, which implies that this method of marijuana use may increase a person’s potential for dependence and addiction.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Changes in appetite
- Fever and chills
- Stomach pain
Smoking Dabs Addiction
Signs that an individual may have an addiction to smoking dabs or using marijuana may include the following:
- Continuing to use a drug of choice despite relationship problems, legal problems, or other adverse consequences
- Loss of interest in other activities in favor of drug use
- Failing to attend to important obligations at home, school, or work due to drug use
- Using the drug in hazardous or inappropriate situations, such as while driving
- Using the drug more frequently or in higher doses than initially intended
- Failing to cut back on drug use or quit despite multiple attempts to do so
- Spending a substantial amount of time procuring, using, or recovering from drug use
- Having drug cravings
- Developing tolerance
- Developing dependence and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use
Treatment for Cannabis Use Disorder
The belief that marijuana does not have any addictive potential may lead people to avoid seeking treatment. This assumption is not correct, however. In fact, it was estimated that in 2017, more than four million people in the United States age 12 and older experienced a cannabis use disorder.
If a person is abusing or addicted to smoking dabs, he or she should seek to undergo an evaluation by a health provider or an addiction treatment professional. Through the use of evidence-based therapies, treatment programs can help people quit using marijuana and prevent relapse long-term.
Research on marijuana use disorder has found that a comprehensive treatment program that includes an emphasis on behavioral therapy results in the best outcomes. These programs, such as those offered by Just Believe Recovery, can help those suffering to prevent relapse and improve functioning on a daily basis.
If you are ready to end the vicious cycle of drug abuse, contact us today! We help those who need it most to be successful at recovery and begin to reclaim the healthy, fulfilling lives they deserve!