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What is a ‘Weed Hangover?’

Weed hangovers are similar to other hangovers. It occurs after the effects of marijuana wear off and includes a variety of symptoms. Two of the most common include headache and brain fog

Side Effects of a Weed Hangover 

Side effects of a weed hangover include:

  • Headache
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dry eyes

Symptoms can range significantly from person to person. Some people experience several of these symptoms after marijuana use, while others have no symptoms.

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Research About Weed Comedowns & Hangovers 

To date, there isn’t much research regarding the symptoms that occur during a weed comedown and hangover. This is partly because marijuana use has been illegal until recently (in most places). It’s expected that more research will be available as more states legalize marijuana.

One of the most well-known studies conducted in 1985 included 13 male participants given cannabis joints or placebos. 

After smoking, they were assigned a variety of tasks that included skills such as recall, time production, and sorting. Subjects were tested after smoking and again after a full night’s sleep. According to researchers, participants given cannabis showed some residual effects the day after smoking.1

Another study included a dozen participants and determined that the residual effects from one marijuana joint was “minimal.”2

According to the study, participants were evaluated over the course of two weekends. They received only placebo marijuana (0.0% THC) one weekend and active marijuana (2.1% THC) the other weekend. The mornings after smoking, subjects answered questions about their sleep and mood and performed several tasks assessing their psychomotor and cognitive function. 

Researchers found no evidence of residual subjective intoxication. Most of the behavioral tasks and mood scales were unaffected after smoking. The conclusion was that marijuana smoking is not associated with a "hangover" syndrome similar to those what people experience after using alcohol or long-acting sedative-hypnotics.2

6 Ways to Come Down From a Cannabis High

Several things might help with coming down from a cannabis high. For example:

  1. Don’t panic. Although the sensations might be unpleasant, there’s a very low risk of serious medical concerns. You can’t overdose on cannabis, so even though it feels uncomfortable, you aren’t in danger. Additionally, cannabis tends to relieve anxiety, so as it wears off, anxiety returns. And for many, it feels more intense than it did originally.
  2. Drink water. Restoring hydration is just as important when it comes to a cannabis hangover as it is with an alcohol hangover. It’s also important to avoid caffeine and caffeinated sodas. These increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which exacerbates the other symptoms you’re experiencing.
  3. Use black pepper or peppercorns to ease anxiety. According to Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, specific terpenes in peppercorn can help “tame the intoxicating effects of THC.”3
  4. Try CBD. The idea of using more cannabis as the effects of a high are wearing off might be the last thing you want to do, it offers some of the same benefits as “the hair of the dog” offer people nursing an alcohol hangover. CBD does not trigger the hallucinatory effects of cannabis because it lacks the active ingredient THC. Many people use CBD to ease anxiety and it can help with the anxiety triggered by marijuana use. One study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2013 found that combining CBD and THC lessened the adverse effects of anxiety and paranoia.4
  5. Distract yourself. The rule of “mind over matter” applies when you’re dealing with a cannabis hangover. Although you’re unlikely to feel motivated to engage in strenuous activity, it helps to go for a walk or do something that occupies your mind, such as a game or TV show. Avoid activities that require fine motor ability or hand-eye coordination until you’re no longer experiencing symptoms. 
  6. Sleep. One of the best ways to avoid negative feelings when coming down from a marijuana high is to sleep through it. Your body will still metabolize the drug and flush it from your system, but you’ll be blissfully unaware. 

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Other Ways to Combat a ‘Weed Hangover’

In addition to the tips listed above, the following can help ease the groggy, unfocused daze you experience with a weed hangover. For example:

  • Take a cold shower. A cold water wakes up your senses and helps you feel more alert.
  • Eat healthy foods. Nourishing your body ensures it’s capable of performing optimally. It also combats some of the damage you might have done snacking on junk food while you were high.
  • Use cold compresses to ease your headache and boost alertness.
  • Try an over-the-counter pain medication to relieve headaches and other aches and pains.
  • Get a massage. This helps with pain and can boost alertness because it enhances circulation.
  • Use moisturizing eye drops to soothe the dryness and redness in your eyes.

How to Get Sober From Other Substances

Giving up any addictive substance is a challenge. However, there are several things you can do if you want to get sober from drugs that are more intense than weed. For example:

  • Commit to giving up drugs and alcohol. There are many benefits to living clean, including avoiding dangerous situations, improving your health, and rebuilding damaged relationships.
  • Set goals for sober living. Having short- and long-term goals is an important part of a successful recovery. Keep goals simple and achievable at the beginning of your recovery and include more things you’d like to achieve as sobriety continues. A goal can be as simple as getting through the day sober or attending a 12-step meeting three times a week.
  • Learn about treatment options and determine which is likely to work best for your situation.

Treatment Options for Substance Use Disorders (SUD)

Many treatment options are available for people trying to recover from a substance use disorder (SUD). For example:

  • Inpatient rehabilitation: removes you from triggers and environments with temptation so you can fully focus on recovery. Inpatient treatment programs are available for 30, 60, 90, days or more.
  • Outpatient treatment: including flexible outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive programs that offer greater flexibility. They are often more affordable than inpatient treatment.
  • 12-step programs: offer peer support and are free to participate in.
  • Alternative support groups: peer support groups that are not based on the twelve steps. Instead, they use scientific programs and modern research to support recovery.

One-on-one and family counseling: provides guidance that helps people identify their triggers and learn to manage them better.

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Resources

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(1) Chait, L.D., et al. “‘Hangover’ Effects the Morning after Marijuana Smoking.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 15, no. 3, June 1985, pp. 229–238, 10.1016/0376-8716(85)90002-x.

(2) Chait, L. D. “Subjective and Behavioral Effects of Marijuana the Morning after Smoking.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 100, no. 3, Mar. 1990, pp. 328–333, 10.1007/bf02244601.

(3) “The Spicy Science behind Why Pepper Makes You Feel Less High.” MEL Magazine, 27 Feb. 2019.

(4) Englund, Amir, et al. “Cannabidiol Inhibits THC-Elicited Paranoid Symptoms and Hippocampal-Dependent Memory Impairment.” Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), vol. 27, no. 1, 2013, pp. 19–27.

(5) CDC. “Health Effects.” Marijuana and Public Health, 2019.

(6) “Know the Risks of Marijuana | SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” Samhsa.gov, 25 Mar. 2019.

(7) National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Is Marijuana Addictive?” Drugabuse.gov, 2018.

(8) National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” Drugabuse.gov, Dec. 2019.

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