dabbing

Is Dabbing Addictive? Signs of Marijuana Dab Addiction and Abuse

While legal marijuana, both medical and recreational, is slowly but surely getting legalized across the country, it has led to new innovations in preparing product, and has created new methods of ingesting the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC.

One of these innovations has led to a change in the way some marijuana users get the THC into their system: they now smoke pure THC.

This has been achieved through the innovation of dab weed.

While dabbing has been around for decades, it has only recently taken prominence in weed culture as a viable option for most partakers. Dab used to be a “treat” so to speak, for weed users, as individuals could not obtain dab commercially until recently.

So, with all the hype around dabbing today, what exactly is it? Are there any risks involved with it?

What Is Dab?

Dabbing is the act of smoking or ingesting dab weed, or dab.

But what exactly is dab?

Dab, in the simplest explanation possible, is THC concentrated into an oil. This is accomplished by using butane to separate THC particles from the rest of the marijuana plant. 

After a few steps, the butane is removed, leaving behind a semi-solid, sticky residue behind: this is what we call dab.

While the process is generally similar for those who make dab, differences in the quality of the marijuana, as well as the quality of the butane used, will result in different consistencies of dab (stretchy, brittle, soft, hard, and more).

With all other particles separated, the leftover dab is essentially pure THC, often reaching levels over 80%.

By contrast, the average THC content of regular marijuana was around 10% as of 2013.

Dab is also known as wax, shatter, or glass, among a long list of other names. 

How Is Dab Consumed?

Dabbing has distinct advantages over normal marijuana for users, other than its obvious increased potency. Dab is odorless, and the smoke elicited, no matter the method used to smoke, is very thin and dissipates quickly.

This makes discretion very easy for a user of dab, but also makes detection very difficult for those who suspect abuse. 

Dab can be consumed a number of different ways: oil pipes, bongs, and vaporizers are the most popular ways to smoke dab.

Vaporizers are becoming increasingly popular due to their portability and the ability to effectively allow public smoking of marijuana, as the vapor does not smell or look much different than regular vape flavors and cartridges. 

However, with dab, there is also the option of pure ingestion. Dab can be added to drinks and foods and still produce the same effects as smoking. While likely poor-tasting, users could even resort to simply eating the dab if no other options were available.

Marijuana Usage: Safe Or Addictive?

With marijuana legalization being a hot topic in the last few years, it has a lot of people hearing a lot of information about marijuana. Some are true, and some are false. 

So, this raises the overarching question: is marijuana addictive?

The answer is complicated, and that is why you often hear conflicting viewpoints about it.

Depending on the quality of the marijuana and various individualized factors, repeated marijuana usage can have wide-ranging impacts on the body and mind. Repeated usage of marijuana can cause problems that are both physical and mental, including memory problems, emphysema, COPD, and heart issues.

But while the effects of marijuana are slowly understood better, the questions still linger as to whether marijuana is addictive, and by extension, whether dabbing is addictive.

Use Versus Misuse

The simplest answer that can be given is that while marijuana is not chemically addictive in the way that opioids or other drugs are addictive, it can be habitually addictive.

It is now generally understood that marijuana can be analogous to alcohol: some can come home and partake in some marijuana the same as they would come home and have a drink at the end of the day. People are absolutely capable of using marijuana in moderation, the same as people are capable of moderation with alcohol. 

But, also like alcohol, there are those individuals who cannot have “just one drink”, or just a little marijuana.

There are those who drink to excess when they drink, just as there are those who smoke to excess when they smoke. It is these people who cannot use marijuana in moderation, who cannot “put it down” so to speak, who are most prone to marijuana addiction. 

This is to say that people can use marijuana repeatedly to the point where they “need” to use it at certain times of day, such as when they wake up or before they can eat.

There are signs of marijuana abuse, and they are not dissimilar to dabbing abuse. Some of these signs include:

  • memory troubles
  • increased tolerance to marijuana
  • inability or unwillingness to cease using marijuana
  • using marijuana with great frequency
  • critical thinking deficits
  • loss of coordination
  • anxiety
  • insomnia

These signs are just a few of the many signs of marijuana abuse. Statistics suggest that the 18-25 age range is most susceptible to marijuana addiction. Additionally, men are more likely than women to become addicted to marijuana.

Dabbing Abuse

So where does this leave us with dabbing? Well, in a similar position to that of marijuana, only dabbing carries some enhanced risks due to its potent makeup.

Dabbing is understood to have all the same dangers and signs of abuse that normal marijuana usage has, only increased due to the increased THC content that dabbing has.

Studies have shown that users of dab report higher tolerance and dependence from dabbing, and suggests that dabbing may carry an increased risk of addiction and/or dependence.

It is thought that the high THC content of dab is the cause of this increased risk.

The long term effects that dabbing can have on an individual are startling to say the least, among them including:

  • depression
  • cardiac issues
  • hallucinations
  • decreased cognitive abilities
  • paranoia

While links to cancer are questionable, dabbing has been shown to have more carcinogens than normal marijuana does.

More On Marijuana And Dabbing

If you or someone you know is addicted to dabbing, we have resources that can help you get information and/or treatment options.

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.