You may need a break if you are a regular pot smoker. If you’ve crossed the line to stoner or pothead, it’s not too late. But, even if you haven’t, an occasional break may be healthy for body and mind. Everything indicates you should take planned weed breaks and avoid marijuana for a set period.
13 Signs you may need a break
- Waking Smoke: If you light up before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you might have a problem. If you go to sleep stoned and wake up baked, you should give it a rest.
- 420 Tattoo: 420, 4:20, or 4/20 is an international code for marijuana. It dates to the 1970s, and it’s time to move on. If you are so far into your habit you have 420 on your shirt, hat, or skin, it’s adolescent behavior. It’s not a secret code anymore, so you look silly.
- Cluttered Tables: If head supplies cover the table next to your favorite chair or bedside, that could be a bad sign. Between bongs, vaporizers, pipes, papers, matches, and more, you may have too many supplies. And, too many supplies can mean too much intake.
- Listen to Friends: You can trust the friend willing to tell you that you smell like a skunk in an ash tray. That’s a sign that the odor has gotten into your skin, hair, and clothes. It’s also a sign you may not have your priorities straight.
- Going Broke: Weed costs money. If it’s cheap on the street, you get what you pay for. Cheap does not buy quality. Weed will cost even more at legal dispensaries. So, when you spend the household money on grass, it’s time to take a break. When spend on product rather than pay the bills, you may have a problem.
- Public Habit: Much of the public objects to anyone smoking in their presence or nearby. They have banned smoking in public places, buildings, and workplaces. So, smoking weed in public won’t win you friends. The occasional social circle smoke at the beach or campsite seems okay, but flaunting your smoke in the face of others is just selfish.
- Sleep Well: Some strains may assure a good night’s sleep for those with pain or insomnia. But, for that to work, you need to light up an hour or so before. Smoking in bed threatens your safety and that of a partner if you’ve got one. Again, the occasional pre-bed hit is one thing; making it part of a bed-time routine may be trouble.
- Get Hard: A 17-year-old stoner who can’t get and sustain an erection has a real problem. If that doesn’t get and sustain his attention and change his priorities, he may be too far into the weeds.
- DUI: Getting a citation driving under marijuana influence does not mean you have a bad habit. But, it means that, at least in this case, weed affects your judgment. It should grab your attention and reorder your priorities.
- Weight Change: Most cannabis will leave you hungry for the wrong foods or oblivious to eating. One way or the other, you will gain or lose weight, a sign that your choices affect your diet and nutrition.
- Work Reports: Under the influence for any length of time, you may notice a decline in your boss’s assessment of your performance. You may appear sober at work, but weed will affect the quality of your work.
- Social Network: You want to keep an eye on your social world. If you win and lose friends tied to their interest in your cannabis pleasures, your social network will change. When most of your friends and social contacts are fellow smokers, the network is a negative.
- Too Bored: In time, most smokers will seek heavier hits. There’s some diminishing returns in smoking frequently, so they try to ramp up the experience with a stronger strain. That’s cool for the occasional try, but it also signals a boredom with the habit and the need for more. Today’s strains have proven much more potent that strains of yore, so there is some risk in that decision.
What to do?
Well, the choice is yours. For some people, these behaviors suggest addiction and need for change.
Jann Gumbiner, Ph. D., writing for Psychology Today, sums up the research on alleged marijuana addiction, “About 10% of recreational users will develop problems serve [severe] enough to impair their work and relationships. Many more will come to depend on pot for relaxation and social purposes. This will be problematic if they don't learn more effective coping mechanisms and come to rely on marijuana instead of solving their problems. When ready, most people will be able to quit with only mild withdrawal symptoms.”
She emphasizes the psycho-social dependency, not any chemical dependency, and she notes users can quit easily with few withdrawal symptoms. So, cannabis smokers should take an occasional break.
Users call it a “Tolerance Break.” Because your system builds up a tolerance for favorite strains, the law of diminishing returns lowers your pleasure in the smoke over time. Taking a tolerance break refreshes your experience when you return to the strain or move on to another.
Since the 1980s, Miles Herkenham, Ph. D., has led benchmark studies in the neuropsychopharmacology of cannabis use for the National Institute of Mental Health. His rats’ lab experience shows that THC tolerance depends on time and dose and that breaks can reverse it.
For how long?
Your body type, age, weight, and so on decide how long to take your break. You want to get the THC out of your system until you don’t feel the craving. Different weed forums suggest 48 to 72 hours or one to two weeks.
The T-break will cost you some adverse reaction, so it might take more than you expect. But, you should set a target. For example, if you smoke regularly, you will suffer the same problems any tobacco smoker would endure on giving up cigarettes: restlessness, poor sleep, appetite change, and irritability.
You can beat the stress with aerobic exercise, sex, nutritional supplements, ample hydration, and work. If you do things you enjoy, you’ll increase your tolerance for those good times as well.