Lisa RoughPublished on May 18, 2022 • Last updated September 9, 2022
We’ve all been there: you lit the perfect joint, took a deliciously, expertly-timed dab, munched on an artisanal edible. Then all of sudden, those fuzzy feelings feel prickly, your laughter turns to panting, and you’re thinking, “dude, am I dead?” No, it’s just the moment when you realize “I’m too high.”
Maybe that edible kicked in three hours late. Perhaps you tried to impress a group of friends by holding the bong rip a little bit too long. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and got caught off guard by their potency. Or maybe you are just a low-tolerance consumer.
It can sneak up on you in a thousand ways, but once it does, the resulting experience may make you uncomfortable; it’s sometimes enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover. Cannabis is not a lethal drug, and thankfully its effects dissipate well within a day. Here’s how to come back from the edge of greening out.
How long does it take to sober up from weed?
After smoking weed, how long your high lasts depends on a variety of factors: consumption method, dosage, and unique individual variables that can vary from person to person like tolerance, age, and metabolic rate. Typically, the higher the potency of a cannabis product (read: THC % or milligram amount), the longer the high will last, though it may not necessarily be more intense. Concentrates are the most potent form of cannabis, with flower and edibles following behind.
This could mean that it would take longer to sober up from dabs than smoking a bowl, but dosage, quality of the flower or wax, and your body’s chemistry all contribute to your experience. It’s also important to note that the everyday smoker with a higher weed tolerance will sober up a lot faster than the occasional consumer who hits the party joint a couple of times. As our senior editor Bruce Barcott previously reported, new studies indicate that there is a “window of impairment” for cannabis across consumption methods of between three and 10 hours, but for most people, it’s around 4 hours.
Anecdotally speaking, the average cannabis high can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours at its peak. You can still experience lingering effects for a period of time after, and some highs have been known to last a lot longer. Thankfully, there are ways to help come back down and sober up when you feel too high, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable from excessive cannabis consumption.
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Symptoms of being too high
If you know you’re too high, you know. But if you’re not sure how to figure out where the line to cross is, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for. While we all love to have a good time, you may need to dial down your intake if you feel:
- excessive perspiration
What happens when you get too high?
Even if it feels like you’re dying, rest assured, you’re still very much alive. Remember, the high you get from marijuana comes from THC, which binds with the CB1 receptors of our endocannabinoid systems, most of which work in our brains. In short, it’s mostly in your head! It is not possible to consume enough THC to die, nor does THC impact parts of the brain that could affect your breathing.
THC’s presence in our bodily systems can impart feelings of relaxation, sleepiness, hunger, euphoria, and clumsiness, but the sheer variety of strains and products make it hard to predict when a high becomes excessive. In rare cases, such as people who suffer from cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, you may feel nauseous or feel dizzy. But thankfully, this too shall pass.
Tips on how to sober up from weed fast
1. Don’t panic
You can never go wrong with the infinite wisdom of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
DON’T PANIC. YOU ARE FINE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY.
Most symptoms of “greening out” (doing too much cannabis) will dissipate within minutes to hours, with no lasting effects beyond a little grogginess and a potentially empty fridge. Give it some time and these feelings will eventually pass, trust us.
We must reiterate that, contrary to what you may have heard, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, so despite how freaked out you may feel or how sweaty you get, you won’t expire from excessive consumption.
Don’t take that on as a challenge, just keep in mind that if you accidentally overdo it, you’ll be OK in a while.
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2. Try water and light snacks
To paraphrase Derek Zoolander, water is the essence of hydration, and hydration is the essence of sobering up. Whether you prefer water or juice, make sure you have a nice, cold beverage on hand (preferably non-caffeinated). This will help you combat dry mouth and allow you to focus on a simple and familiar act—sipping and swallowing.
Keep in mind that by “hydrate,” we don’t mean “knock back a few alcoholic beverages.” If you’re feeling the effects of your strain a little too aggressively, stay away from alcohol, as it can increase THC blood concentrations.
Does eating after smoking weed sober you up?
Some people find that a light snack helps to feel a little more grounded. Consider grazing on some fruits, nuts, or cheese, and see if it’s a little easier to connect mind and body. Some research suggests that the terpenes in our food, which are also abundant in cannabis, may help mitigate the consumer’s high.
3. Know your limits before consuming
If you can, try to prepare for your cannabis session according to your tolerance level. If you know that more than two puffs from a joint makes you anxious, or a 10mg gummy glues you to the couch, don’t push past your comfort zone. This likely won’t help you once you’re already over the edge, but it can help you avoid an uncomfortable situation for next time.
Consume with friends you trust and have smoked with before, and don’t feel pressured to consume to their tolerance levels. It’s all well and good to make new friends, but being surrounded by strangers when you can’t feel your face is unpleasant at best and anxiety-ridden at worst.
Take it slow, especially when consuming edibles. We recommend trying a standard dose of 10 mg (or even 5 mg out of an abundance of caution) and waiting at least an hour, if not two, before increasing your edibles dosage. The same goes for inhalation methods—if you’re used to occasionally taking one hit off your personal vaporizer, don’t sit in a smoking circle puffing and passing for an hour.
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4. Chew black peppercorns when you’re too high
If you find yourself combating paranoia and anxiety, a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Many swear by the black pepper trick, even Neil Young! Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief. While it hasn’t been proven, many of the terpenes in black pepper also appear in numerous cannabis strains, which may contribute to its grounding effects.
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5. Keep calm and rest
Find a calm, quiet place without a lot of stimuli where you can rest and breathe deeply. Remember, the intense discomfort you’re feeling will pass. Take deep full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath and just rest a while.
Sometimes sleeping it off can be the best alternative to stopping a strong high, but it’s not always easy to turn your brain off. Once you’ve found a zen area, lie down and let yourself relax. If you feel drowsy or sleepy, take a little nap to rejuvenate yourself. Should you be unable to fall asleep, just get comfortable until you feel strong enough to spring back up.
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6. Try going for a walk
If you can’t turn your brain off, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air to get your blood pumping will help invigorate you. Just remember to stay close to your immediate surroundings and bring a buddy—we don’t want you wandering off and getting lost while you’re feeling anxious and paranoid! And refrain from taking a walk if you’re feeling too woozy or light-headed to stand; instead, we recommend Option #5: lay down for a while.
7. Take a shower or bath
While it’s not always feasible if you’re out and about or at a friend’s house, if you’re at home, try taking a nice shower or bath to help relax while you wait for the effects of smoking too much weed to dissipate.
Will taking a shower take away my high?
Unfortunately, scientists have yet to publish a study on showering’s effects on stoned subjects, but anecdotal evidence and the science of showers indicate that yes, showering will most likely mellow your high. Showers in general relax the mind and body, and cold showers in particular appear to help with lowering symptoms of depression and increasing neural impulses, making you feel more alert and grounded.
8. Distract yourself!
All of the activities that seem so entertaining and fun while high are also a great way to distract yourself while you try to come back down to Earth. We suggest that you:
- Watch a funny cartoon
- Listen to your favorite album
- Play a video game
- Talk to your friends (who are hopefully right by your side, reassuring you)
- Snuggle with your significant other
- Try coloring as a calming activity (seriously, adult coloring books are becoming all the rage lately)
- Eat something delicious
- Go on a supervised errand
Whatever distractions you prefer, make sure it’s a familiar activity that gives you warm, fuzzy emotions. Your brain will hopefully zone in on the positive feelings and give you a gentle reminder that you are safe and just fine.
Sobering up from edibles
We know now that the high from an edible can differ significantly from a smoking, vaping or dabbing high. After all, our body metabolizes them via different systems, and edible highs are the most long-lasting of any consumption method because THC will pass through the liver during digestion, which enhances THC’s longevity.
Thus, not all methods on this list may work for edibles. We do recommend trying to stay calm, drinking water, and distracting yourself. You can also try eating a large meal to keep your metabolism going, or taking some CBD edibles to help lessen the edible’s effects. If you can manage it, a nice, long siesta can do the trick too.
Sobering up from delta-8
The isolation and subsequent popularization of hemp-derived delta-8 THC has given producers and consumers new opportunities to play with weed, and that includes news possibilities for greening out. Fortunately, because of its differing molecular structure, delta-8 is nowhere near as intoxicating per milligram as delta-9.
Contributor Dante Jordan chronicled his personal experience with delta-8 edibles for kushy last year, and he had a pretty good time “blasting music, dancing around my Airbnb, and punching out sentences that writer’s block had been stifling.” Delta-8 is often called “diet weed” because most consumers find it to be far less intense and therefore harder to overdo.
Additional ideas to try to come down from a high
Bonus tip #1: Try some CBD to counter the effects of smoking too much weed
CBD is an excellent anxiety-fighting compound, and for many people it can be used to counteract too much THC. CBD’s anti-anxiety mechanisms work by modulating the receptor signaling associated with THC. Since CBD doesn’t bind to the brain’s CB1 receptors like THC, it can balance and take the edge off the intensity of the high.
Bonus tip #2: Squeeze a lemon to help sober up
The tang of a lemon might be just what you need to snap back after getting too high. Slice a lemon and take a whiff of the citrusy fruit, then pucker up!
The terpene limonene, found in citrus fruit and many cannabis strains, has been studied for its anxiety-reducing effects, so try sucking on a lemon slice or using the juice for a tart treat.
Bonus tip #3: Take some ibuprofen
One study found that ibuprofen can counteract some effects of THC. If you have an ibuprofen handy, you can try taking a safe dose with water and some food to help you come down from your high.
If all else fails and you find that you are still feeling alarmingly uncomfortable, you can always seek medical attention and tell a doctor or nurse that you are having a cannabis-induced anxiety attack. This option is always available, even in states where cannabis is illegal. From a medical perspective, physicians have your best interest in mind and want to do all they can to make sure you’re OK, even if it’s helping you come down when you’re too stoned. They cannot arrest you or pursue legal action against you for being too high.
Hopefully, however, the above suggestions were just what you needed to counteract and hopefully stop that too-intense cannabis high. (As a very last resort, you could always follow Snoop Dogg’s advice and “put ur face in mayonnaise.”)
How do you stop being high and come down from overwhelming cannabis effects? Share your tips in the comments section!
Authors Lisa Rough and Dante Jordan contributed to this article. This post was originally published on August 15, 2015. It was most recently updated on May 18, 2022.