“Everything in moderation” is a classic phrase that can be applied to a number of life’s pleasures, especially cannabis consumption. When you smoke or consume cannabis too much and too often, your high might not be what it once was.
The Science Behind It
University of Maryland Physiology Professor Bradley Alger wrote an article in 2013 detailing the way that THC interacts with your brain. He found that when your body consistently experiences cannabis, it begins to build a tolerance. This causes your THC receptors, called CB1’s, to turn off in order to maintain a sense of “normalcy”.
The effects of a high tolerance to cannabis and THC can be challenging for some, which is why a number of consumers take a “hiatus,” or a tolerance break (also known as a T-break), in order to build back up to that original euphoric feeling.
T-breaks can range anywhere from a few hours to decades, but most people’s last one year or less.
One Leafly article that looks at THC tolerance found that most daily cannabis consumers were able to return to a normal level after around two weeks of cannabis abstinence. The article also describes how, in comparison to alcohol or methamphetamine, the recovery time from cannabis is a much faster and less destructive process.
A study published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging observed the change in cannabis dependence in eleven males over a 28 day period when compared to a standard baseline of someone not intoxicated or with withdrawals.
The study found that participants’ dependency reversed rapidly and would have continued to do so if the participants had continued to abstain from using cannabis.
Anyone Can Reset Their Tolerance
Giving your brain that needed break from cannabis can be hard to push through, but when taken seriously, it can lead to an unmatched high.
“It was definitely really difficult for me to sleep the first few days, usually I’m out and dead to the world by 11PM. First couple days I was up till about 4AM,” said one online Reddit user about their T-Break experience. “[Cannabis] however has a hugely positive effect on how well I sleep, my anxiety levels, my stress levels, as well as how I deal with sensory input and the world around me.”
The Reddit user also mentioned that their motivation and productivity weren’t affected at all.
Anyone can take a T-break, no matter how long they’ve been a cannabis consumer. In a study published in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, scientists found that even with years of heavy smoking, cannabis users’ levels were close to baseline after taking a T-break.
“We found decreased CB1 receptor binding in subjects who had smoked large amounts of cannabis daily for years,” the researchers wrote. “Even in these heavy smokers, binding returned to normal levels in most regions after ~4 weeks of abstinence.”
They also found that, compared to their control group of minimal cannabis exposure, cannabis users had a ~20% higher tolerance to THC.
Help For Your T-Break
The Center for Health and Wellbeing at the University of Vermont posted a guide to help those wanting to take a T-break. It’s a full, 21-day guide that includes some of the things you might be experiencing on the different days of your T-break. It covers everything from sleep, all the way to celebrating little milestones along the way.
Andrew Ward from PotGuide also wrote an article to help people decide how long their T-break should be. For casual cannabis consumers, anywhere from one week to two weeks should be enough time. For semi-frequent users, three to four weeks, and for heavy consumers, one month or more
The length of a T-break varies from person to person, and you might not need as much time as you think. You could also need more time to get back to your baseline.
Resetting your tolerance can provide opportunities to try other cannabis products too. If you’re constantly smoking, getting back to baseline gives you a chance to switch over to edibles or vice versa.
T-breaks aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Whether you’re someone who consistently smokes or you only use cannabis sparingly, understanding your limits and what you can do to manage your consumption can help you hit that perfect high.