Can You Overdose on Marijuana? – A marijuana overdose can occur when a person experiences severe health problems after ingesting too much of the drug. Symptoms of overdose may include hallucinations, elevated heart rate, and intense paranoia. Those that are experiencing these severe problems might require immediate medical attention.
Many people associate overdoses with death. But having an overdose simply means that a person has taken an excessive amount of a substance, which can result in dangerous health effects. So while some drug overdoses may be life-threatening, many others are not.
Can you overdose on marijuana? While almost no marijuana overdose deaths have been reported in the U.S., ingesting too much can still cause severe problems that adversely affect a person’s health and well-being.
Symptoms of Marijuana Overdose
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient in cannabis that produces a high. However, this mind-altering chemical can also provoke an overdose if someone ingests too much of it.
Symptoms of marijuana overdose may include the following:
- Anxiety and panic
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
Edibles and other potent forms of marijuana can also result in an overdose. Five years after Colorado first legalized marijuana in 2014, a recent study reveals that marijuana overdoses are sending an increasing number of people to the emergency department.
The study examined patient data at a Denver area hospital. Researchers found that inhaled marijuana resulted in the most serious problems, but that edibles were also a big problem. Patients visited the ER complaining of symptoms such as vomiting, racing heart, and psychotic episodes.
Marijuana use may also cause irrational or suicidal behavior that leads to death. For example, in 2014, a 19-year-old college student in Wyoming jumped off a hotel balcony after eating a cookie that contained a potent amount of THC.
In some cases, a person who has used marijuana may not realize that they are having an overdose. For this reason and others, it is vital to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of excessive marijuana use.
Risk Factors for Overdose
Several factors can increase a person’s risk of experiencing a marijuana overdose. People may ingest a toxic dose because they are unaware of the potential dangers of using the substance. Those who are inexperienced users or those who experiment with its more potent forms can be more likely to overdose.
Risk factors for overdose include:
- Using marijuana for the first time
- Eating edibles with a high THC content
- Taking high doses
Children who are exposed to THC are also at increased risk for an overdose. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warns that children who accidentally ingest marijuana can suffer from respiratory failure and coma. Furthermore, living in a state or jurisdiction where marijuana use is legal increases the risk of accidental overdoses among children.
Also, combining marijuana with alcohol or other drugs can increase a person’s risk of having an overdose. For example, using marijuana with cocaine can result in a significantly elevated heart rate and high blood pressure. These are symptoms that might need emergency medical treatment.
Marijuana laced with other drugs can also lead to an overdose. Dealers have often sold marijuana combined with a more powerful substance such as PCP or cocaine. In these cases, the buyer had no way of knowing that the marijuana was laced. The effects of these more potent drugs could be life-threatening.
Treating a Marijuana Overdose
No FDA-approved antidotes for treating a marijuana overdose currently exist. This condition may require immediate medical attention to control symptoms such as the following:
- Psychotic symptoms
- Respiratory issues
- Cardiovascular distress
If you believe you or someone you know has overdosed on marijuana, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.
Preventing an Overdose
A person can take steps to avoid marijuana overdose. The most effective way to prevent health complications is to reduce marijuana use or, ideally, stop using it altogether.
Those who are currently using marijuana can also prevent an overdose by learning more about the hazards of marijuana abuse, and seek treatment for marijuana addiction, if necessary. 12-step programs, such as Marijuana Anonymous, are also available. These groups can offer support and advice from those who are in recovery and have already been through similar circumstances.
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
If you are addicted to marijuana, you might need professional treatment to quit. Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive outpatient programs that involve multiple approaches to treatment, including the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Substance abuse education
- Group support
- Individual and family counseling
- Health and wellness education
- Aftercare planning
These services are delivered to clients by caring, highly-skilled addiction specialists who are trained to support patients with compassion and expertise.
This combination of treatment and social support can help you or someone you love overcome marijuana addiction and reclaim a healthy, drug-free life! Contact us today and find out how we can help!