When people consume cannabis on a daily basis, their bodies eventually build up a tolerance to the drug, making them less susceptible to physical and mental side effects that they would’ve experienced in the past. Subsequently, users are forced to consume more of the drug than usual, making it more costly, timely and dangerous to experience the same benefits that they previously enjoyed. This is notably problematic when using cannabis for medical purposes. Consequently, many users and patients decide to take what is known as a tolerance break, so as to reduce the resilience their body has built up against the drug and to continue having better effects at the same dosage.
There is no strict timeline set for how long cannabis tolerance takes to build up and is very dependant on various factors including:
- How regularly the user consumes cannabis
- How strong the cannabis is, particularly the THC/CBD content
- Genetic factors influencing one’s endocannabinoid system
Often called ‘T Breaks’, users can abstain from the consumption of cannabis, which allows the CB1 receptors in your brain to recover over time, returning to previous levels. The aforementioned duration for which one decides to abstain from consuming cannabis is very contingent on the individual, thus, there is no general rule on break time, making trial and error and experimentation very necessary. According to healthline, online forums have suggested that two weeks is the ideal timeframe to ensure your tolerance has returned to its original state, however, it may only take a few days to notice a significant reduction in intolerance.
Difficulties faced by ‘T Breaks’
Users who have built up strong resistance to cannabis go through withdrawal symptoms when deciding to take a tolerance break. In contrast to alcohol withdrawal or others such as opioids and benzodiazepines, cannabis withdrawal symptoms are often quite mild, but still unpleasant and may include the following:
- Mood swings
- Intense dreams
- Low appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
If these symptoms do become unbearable whilst taking a ‘T Break’, make sure to keep hydrated, stay active and even consider other OTC medications to counteract nausea, insomnia and headaches.
It may be a better option for some users to slowly taper off cannabis use instead of going cold turkey. This will prevent users from experiencing sudden and often unbearable withdrawal symptoms by seamlessly easing them into their tolerance break. Despite the difficulties faced by people taking ‘T Breaks’, there are many strategies that can be used to make this time more enjoyable, which can be seen in this guide to help support those in need.
Tolerance Breaks for Medical Purposes
Yes, tolerance breaks are important for those consuming marijuana for recreational purposes, however, they are far more important for those using cannabis as a medicine. Instead of taking tolerance breaks to continue feeling high at the same cost, patients using medicinal marijuana benefit by having their cannabis more effective in treating their illness. As we should all know, cannabis is a great medical agent in alleviating symptoms of various illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and ADHD. As a result, patients may be prescribed cannabis by their doctor and advised to consume cannabis daily to treat their illnesses. This can often lead to a build-up in tolerance, reducing the effectiveness of treatment. This doesn’t mean that patients must suffer from their illness during tolerance breaks. Traditional therapy, such as opioids for cancer pain, should be used to treat patients when cannabis isn’t being consumed.
CBD, THC and Tolerance Breaks:
It is recommended that patients avoid using cannabis with a high THC to CBD ratio, as this will lead to the fastest resistance to the medication. For those that are able to have their illness alleviated merely by CBD oil ingestion, this is a best-case scenario as cannabidiol will not cause a reduction in your CB1 receptors, thus, tolerance breaks need not be necessary. CBD is also less likely to cause psychosis, increased heart rate, anxiety and nausea, thus, doctors prefer administering CBD oil to THC and CBD containing substances where possible.