Tolerance breaks, also known as T-breaks, are when an individual stops consuming cannabis for a set period of time to reset their body’s tolerance levels to THC. Over time, regular users of medical or recreational cannabis will develop higher and higher tolerance to the drug. However, by taking periodic breaks from use, they can reset these levels and enjoy the effects of the drug again without needing as much.
People who frequently use medical or recreational cannabis will develop a higher tolerance to THC over time.
What is cannabis tolerance?
Tolerance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to a substance or medication. With continued use of that substance, higher doses are needed to produce the original desired effect. THC is frequently consumed in this manner.
Because tolerance is a complex phenomenon, scientists have not yet discovered all the adaptations that occur in our bodies when we experience it. However, brain scans of people who use cannabis regularly show that chronic cannabis/THC use decreases the number of THC receptors in the brain.
The body’s natural system that interacts with cannabis — our endocannabinoid system (ECS) — is a very changeable and responsive system. So, it makes perfect sense that the ECS would detect when it is being overwhelmed by THC and take measures to become less sensitive. In other words, you would need more THC (by using it more often or opting for higher potency strains of cannabis) to get the same results as when you first started consuming.
Chronic cannabis/THC use causes a decrease in the number of THC receptors in the brain, resulting in decreased sensitivity to the effects of THC.
Scientists are still debating how long it takes to develop a tolerance. Studies on animals have shown that female rodents develop a tolerance more quickly than males, but this has been difficult to study in humans. The process is highly variable and depends on numerous factors such as consumption patterns, THC doses, routes of administration, and even genetic makeup. The best way to tell if you’ve built up a tolerance is if you find yourself needing more cannabis than before to feel its effects.
Is it bad to build up a tolerance?
Some might see tolerance as a character flaw, yet it has many advantages. For example, many medical patients consume THC for its painkilling abilities but find the side effects of brain fog and intoxication difficult to endure. However, if a patient becomes tolerant enough over time, they can still receive the positive medical benefits of cannabis without experiencing the negative consequences. Some patients who start cannabis therapy find that taking THC before bed is helpful. They may sleep through the intoxication for a week or two, which allows them to slowly incorporate small amounts of THC into their daytime routine. This approach captures medical benefits with minimal side effects.
What are the benefits of a tolerance break?
There are many benefits to taking tolerance breaks, and they don’t require much effort. If you want to minimize the risks of consuming too much THC, consider moderating your cannabis consumption by taking regular breaks.
In the ECS, THC activates CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward pathway. This triggers neurological responses that make it more likely a person will use cannabis again. Cannabis is a rewarding substance that makes people feel good, but anything that creates the feeling of reward can be abused.
If you frequently consume cannabis, you might beraise your chance of experiencing disorders like cannabis use disorder (CUD) or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). To protect yourself from developing these conditions, consider taking a tolerance break to give your body a detox.
Putting cannabis aside for a while can actually make it more effective when you start consuming it again. This means that you will need less weed to get the same effect (or relief from symptoms), which saves you money in the long run.
If you stop taking cannabis for a while, your body will be more responsive to it when you start consuming it again.
What are the side effects of a tolerance break?
According to one study, almost half of all people who regularly use cannabis experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to take a break. These side effects are similar to what smokers feel when they quit nicotine and can include irritability, decreased appetite, depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. They tend to be worse in those who were using a lot of cannabis but are usually mild overall.
For medical cannabis patients, the return of symptoms being treated with cannabis is typical during a period of abstinence. Switching to another medication temporarily, or using complementary and alternative therapies may be helpful during this time. Since medical patients are typically daily consumers of cannabis, they are more vulnerable than others to risks associated with chronic use (such as hyperemesis). Managing tolerance is an important part of sustainable, long-term therapy for such individuals.
How do I take a tolerance break?
If you want to take a tolerance break, stop smoking cannabis for two days at the minimum. Studies show that CB1 receptor availability goes down with chronic cannabis use, but these receptors come back after only 48 hours of not consuming. In other words, your tolerance will be back to normal if you abstain for just two days.
People may find it tough to reduce cannabis consumption because they have grown reliant on it for daily help or enjoyment. While moderation is never a issue, tapering down use over time before taking a tolerance break for several days is different than completely quitting (cold-turkey).
Depending on how frequently you consume cannabis, you may want to consider tolerance breaks that last for two weeks or even a month. However, it entirely up to you how long your tolerance break will be. What do you hope to gain from taking a tolerance break? Try it out and see how your body reacts since everyone’s biological reaction to THC in cannabis differs. There is no single correct duration for a Cannabis Tolerance Break! Since everyone reacts to cannabis and THC differently, there’s no universal solution for taking tolerance breaks..
Some people who want to take a tolerance break from THC turn to CBD instead. Some say that this helps them with any withdrawal symptoms they might experience, and there is some scientific evidence from research done on mice that backs up these claims. However, more research needs to be done with humans before we can say for sure.
How often should I take a tolerance break?
Although there is a lack of scientific evidence, some doctors and patient advocacy groups suggest that taking a 48-hour tolerance break every 30 days could be an effective strategy for managing tolerance and preventing physical dependence.
If you are a regular cannabis user or use it to manage a chronic health condition, it is beneficial to monitor and manage your intake. Doing so will help keep your endocannabinoid system functioning properly.
If you think it’s time for a tolerance break, tell your friends and family. Let them know what you’re going through and ask for their help to steer clear of temptation.