When a person dabs, that person inhales concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products through butane extraction. Thus, dabs are just highly concentrated THC oil extracted from marijuana plants. Therefore, an addiction to dabbing is like a more serious marijuana addiction.
The use of butane hash oil (BHO) products and the modification of cannabis is not a new phenomenon, but dabbing has recently moved from relative obscurity to the news headlines, leaving many curious about its effects and making doctors concerned.
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What is Butane Hash Oil?
A cannabis extract that people make through an extraction process that uses butane as the primary solvent is butane hash oil (BHO). Another name for butane hash oil is “hash.” The type of concentrate that individuals produce from BHO depends on the strain and apparatus.
There are several types: badder, wax, crumble sauce shatter, etc., each with its own consistency and texture. The type of butane hash oil all depends on the processes that people apply to the marijuana plant material that’s extracted at any given moment.
How Do You Create Butane Hash Oil?
Butane producers first use butane as a solvent to produce BHO. They do this by vaporizing the liquid and then passing it through an apparatus with a tared filter attached. One end captures any remaining solvents while allowing cannabis oil to pass into the other chamber where it can be collected for further processing.
In the butane purification process, the solvents are evaporated off until they no longer pose health risks or leave behind undesirable tastes in the extracted product. This includes tastes such as tar-like flavorings from ash residue like when smoking marijuana flower buds traditionally. The consistency of Butane Hash Oil (BHO) derives primarily from production techniques used throughout the extraction process.
How Strong are Dabs?
Dabs are a lot stronger than dried marijuana, which on average, has a THC content of 12% – 13%. The average marijuana extract contains more than 50% THC, with some samples exceeding 80%.
These trends raise concerns that the consequences of marijuana use could be worse than in the past. The reason is that THC and other chemicals are more potent in marijuana extracts than in regular marijuana, making the side effects of dabbing more powerful than those from smoking weed.
People sometimes refer to dabs as the crack of cannabis. Thus, if you’re asking yourself if is dabbing addictive, the answer is, yes, developing an addiction to dabbing is very possible.
How Do People Consume Marijuana Dabs?
People can dab in a number of different ways, the two most popular methods of dabbing are by smoking and ingesting the substance. Smoking dabs is more typical. This is because people associate smoking marijuana-based substances with recreation more than they do ingesting marijuana-based substances. In fact, many people associate ingesting marijuana-based substances with using it for medicinal purposes.
There’s always the option of adding flavoring to dabs or mixing the dabbing substance into foods. This makes the marijuana-like substance more appealing than consuming it by other means such as by pure inhalation like it is done when smoking it through water pipes or bongs.
People can smoke dabs with bongs or vaporizers. People most often consume dabs by adding them to an oil pipe though. Consuming dabs by adding them to an oil pipe heats up a small amount of dab instead of (for example) burning a whole joint at once (which would result in wasting weed). Vaporizers are gaining more popularity due to their portability and the ability to effectively allow public smoking of marijuana.
Dabbing has distinct advantages over normal marijuana for users, other than its obvious increased potency. Dab smoke dissipates quickly and the substance is nearly odorless.
Consequences of an Addiction to Dabbing
In short, dabbing could cause increased marijuana addiction and dependence rates due to its high THC content. Dabbing is a relatively new phenomenon that seems to be carrying more and more risks.
Early exposure to drugs and alcohol, such as using marijuana as a teenager or dabbing in young adulthood can have detrimental effects on the development of the brain. One study found that individuals reported higher tolerance and withdrawal symptoms from dabs. This indicates that dabbing can lead to dependence and addiction.
The ability to become more and more dependent on dabbing has to do with the potency of dabs in comparison to regular marijuana usage. The effects of dabbing also include higher incidences of falls, accidents, and passing out.
Other side effects of dabbing can include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Extreme paranoia
- Hindered cognitive abilities
Dabbing is a new phenomenon. Thus, there aren’t many studies available on the long-term effects of dabbing yet. Inhaling too much butane can be lethal, but it rarely results in death. In most cases, ingesting a large dose of BHO can lead to vomiting, anxiety, or paranoia.
Because of how people process the marijuana-based substance, there are many dangers that people associate with dabbing. For example, pressing butane through glass pipes to extract the oil while creating BHO can cause explosions.
The lack of research regarding the physical effects of dabbing present plenty of concerns in the medical community. In a 2015 study, over 80% of selected marijuana extracts were contaminated with pesticides or poisonous solvents leftover from the dabbing extraction process.
Other Unknown Effects of Dabbing
There are very few studies regarding concentrated THC oil. Even among supporters of marijuana use, there is controversy regarding the use of the substance’s more potent dabs.
Marijuana affects brain chemistry significantly. At higher concentrations over prolonged periods of use, marijuana could present unknown, long-term negative effects.
Consuming higher concentrations of marijuana through dabbing can negatively affect many different body systems. This is especially true since people filter and process the dabbing chemical. When people dab, the substance reaches the respiratory system and then travels immediately to the bloodstream.
There is concern over whether people can leave butane in the final dabbing substance. Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider small amounts of butane consumption safe, the FDA doesn’t suggest consuming it. Many states have different butane use limits.
Producing butane hash oil is dangerous because it can be highly flammable and volatile. There are risks when inexperienced technicians try to make their own BHO. Using unsafe equipment to make BHO without fully understanding how the chemical behaves could lead to a blast. Something like that could destroy any nearby buildings or even cause serious injury.
Is Dabbing Addictive?
So what makes a particular habit or substance addiction? No use of psychoactive substances is risk-free. Plus, generally using drugs to deal with a chronic condition is more likely to lead to addiction problems.
When people that use highly concentrated THC products attempt to quit, the withdrawal symptoms that they’ll have to manage could be challenging without professional help. Seeking help for an addiction to dabbing at a formal rehab center is often the best course to begin a successful drug-free life.
Signs of an Addiction to Dabbing
- Continuously abusing dabs even though it is causing negative effects to one’s relationships or work
- Not wanting to quit dabbing due to experiencing withdrawals
- Craving dabs
- Needing to use marijuana despite a dangerous situation
- Attempting to slow down on dab abuse, but being unsuccessful
- Still abusing dabs even after having negative mental health experiences such as anxiety or depression
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities due to dab drug abuse
- Increasing the size of dabs due to increased tolerance
Treatment for an Addiction to Dabbing
People can treat a cannabis addiction just like they can any other substance addiction, through professional addiction treatment at a rehab facility. Addiction therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management are all great tools to help individuals overcome an addiction to dabbing or even just an addiction to cannabis. Taking part in the addiction therapies that we just mentioned can even help individuals avoid relapsing from an addiction to dabbing or cannabis.
Addiction treatment programs offered by Florida Center for Recovery offer many, if not all, of the addiction therapies that help treat an addiction to dabbing and cannabis. People often consider a cannabis addiction to be more of a psychological addiction than a physical one. Because there are withdrawals that people associate with an addiction to dabbing, individuals looking to overcome their dabbing addictions should detox prior to receiving addiction treatment at a rehab center.
Inpatient Treatment for an Addiction to Dabbing
Addiction treatment specialists recommend that individuals with severe substance addictions receive inpatient treatment. Individuals that attend inpatient treatment live at rehab facilities 24/7.
Outpatient Treatment for an Addiction to Dabbing
Outpatient addiction treatment offers many of the same services and therapies as inpatient addiction treatment. However, an outpatient program will allow an individual to get help and still reside at home in the evenings.
There are many different types of outpatient programs. People can structure their outpatient programs around work or school schedules. Therefore, an individual that receives outpatient treatment for an addiction to dabbing won’t have to stop working or taking care of his or her normal day-to-day responsibilities.
Get Help for an Addiction to Dabbing Today!
Here at Florida Center for Recovery, we understand how life-altering addiction can be, especially when that addiction is to a substance that’s as addictive as dabbing. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to dabbing, you should consider receiving addiction treatment at an accredited substance abuse treatment facility like Florida Center for Recovery.
Drug abuse and addiction are difficult to overcome by yourself. Let us here at Florida Center for Recovery help you.
Contact our admissions department today and discuss the different ways our team of addiction treatment specialists can help you overcome dangerous substance use disorders like that of an addiction to dabbing. A call today can stop the long-term consequences of addiction. We here at Florida Center for Recovery have helped many people achieve recovery, and we can help you or your loved one as well.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.