How long should a cannabis tolerance break be?
How long should a cannabis tolerance break be to completely reset back to normal?
Thank you for this very important question. As is the case with alcohol and other drugs, tolerance to cannabis can develop with regular use. Now that a growing number of people are using cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes, the issue of finding a balance in how to use cannabis can become an issue for some people. Especially, when tolerance develops and the desired effects become harder to obtain.
This is where a tolerance break or 'T-break' can help, by resetting your biology, bringing down your tolerance, and if desired, quitting cannabis altogether. While most people think cannabis has no side effects and doesn’t cause any cravings, this is actually a common misconception. Cannabis can cause tolerance, dependence, and in rare cases, a form of addiction called cannabis use disorder.
While cannabis use can be problematic for some, most of us taking a tolerance break just do it as a way to save time and money, and reduce the inconvenience of having to use a ton of cannabis to achieve our desired effects. So, how long should a tolerance break last? Let's find out more below!
How Does Tolerance Develop?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound present in cannabis. It works by interacting with our inherent and complex endocannabinoid system, mainly by binding to the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors found predominantly in the brain and central nervous system.
Consuming THC regularly can reduce the number of CB1 receptors that are expressed in the brain over time. This means that using the same amount of THC will gradually stop producing the same effects because there are fewer CB1 receptors for the drug to interact with.
While there is no strict timeline as to how quickly tolerance develops, there are several factors that influence it, such as:
- How often you use cannabis
- The THC content
- Your individual genetic makeup
Taking a Tolerance Break
As mentioned, a tolerance break can help lower your cannabis tolerance. Research shows that even though continuous use of THC depletes CB1 receptors, it is possible to recover them with time and restore them to their former levels. Regarding the length of a tolerance break, it likely depends on your individual circumstances. For some people, a few days may do the trick, while others suggest that a minimum of two weeks is better. However, these suggestions are purely anecdotal.
Experts advise taking longer tolerance breaks of about 21 days. This is because THC takes about three weeks (sometimes even longer) to be completely eliminated from your system. This is because THC bonds to fat, making it much harder to eliminate quickly. Imaging studies have given us more insight into just how long it takes for the CB1 receptors in our brains to replenish. These studies have suggested that a minimum of 28 days is required for CB1 receptor expression to be fully restored.
Even though cannabis withdrawal isn’t as extreme as withdrawal from alcohol, opioids, or other substances, it can still produce quite uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
• Mood alterations (irritability)
• Exhaustion (fatigue)
• Cognitive problems (inability to focus)
• Loss of appetite
• Stomach problems
• Sleep troubles (insomnia)
To help manage these symptoms, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, exercise, and don't hesitate to consult your doctor if you feel that any of your symptoms are too severe to manage on your own. While these symptoms may become uncomfortable, they usually only last for about 72 hours.
Bottom line: Keeping Yourself in Check
Once your tolerance is back to normal, keep the following points in mind to ensure your tolerance stays in check:
• Since THC depletes CB1 receptors, opt for products with lower concentrations of THC if you can. Remember that the development of tolerance is related to the constant presence of the drug, so the more THC you use, and the more frequently you use it, the worse your tolerance will get.
• Use cannabis occasionally or only when needed.
• Try using less cannabis at a time, and wait a little while before re-dosing. That way, you'll realize the entire effect of that dose before re-dosing and potentially overdoing it.
• Instead of THC, consider using CBD-only products to experience the health benefits of cannabis. However, this switch might not be viable for everyone.
Remember that tolerance may be unavoidable for some people. If you are one of them, consider developing a plan to take regular tolerance breaks when needed.