One of the most common ways to lower your cannabis tolerance is to take a break from using cannabis. These are often called “T breaks.”
If you ingest THC often, your CB1 receptors are reduced over time. This means the same amount of THC won’t affect the CB1 receptors in the same way, resulting in reduced effects.
- Use lower-THC products. Since it’s THC that leads to the depletion of your CB1 receptors, it’s wise to opt for products that are a bit lower in THC.
- Don’t use cannabis too often. The more you use it, the higher your tolerance will be, so try to only use it occasionally or as needed.
- Use a lower dosage. Try consuming less cannabis at a time, and try to wait a bit longer before re-dosing.
- Use CBD instead. You may want to consider giving CBD-only products a try if you’re looking to reap the potential health benefits of cannabis. However, THC does have some benefits that CBD doesn’t seem to have, so this switch isn’t viable for everyone.
Some people find that a few days does the trick. Most online forums advise that 2 weeks is the ideal time frame.
If you’re using cannabis for medical reasons, taking a T break might not be feasible. There are a few other strategies you can try.
- mood swings
- cognitive impairment
- diminished appetite
- stomach problems, including nausea
- intense, vivid dreams
If that’s not an option, consider switching to products that are lower in THC or reducing your cannabis consumption.
Once you’ve reset your tolerance, keep the following in mind to keep your tolerance in check moving forward:
Many people who have developed a high tolerance do go through cannabis withdrawal when taking a T break or using less cannabis than usual.
If you've been consuming weed for a while, you've probably developed a high tolerance along the way. Here's how to reset it and keep it from happening again.
Mice who were given twice daily injections of THC at 10 mg/kg developed tolerance to THC’s pain-relieving and sedative effects after 36 hours (i.e., 3 THC injections). Tolerance to THC’s sedative effects were stronger than to its pain-relieving effects, suggesting that different brain regions or brain cells are more susceptible to tolerance than others.
Since internalization of CB1 receptors is the predominant consequence of excessive THC consumption, it helps explain why there’s faster brain recovery with cannabis abstinence than many other drugs of abuse. At worst, CB1 receptors become internalized and broken down, in which case they must be reproduced and sent back up to the cell’s surface to recover normal brain function (it should be noted that there can be additional repercussions with substantial use on other brain chemical systems).
The reason for a consumer’s tolerance to THC can be explained by cannabinoid type I (CB1) receptors in the brain, which decrease with continued cannabis use. That is, you need to consume more of the high-inducing THC to get your buzz. Over time and with continued use, it may seem impossible to get high at all.
After a week of THC exposure, the THC injections stopped, and the rate of recovery was measured. Behavior normalized in less than two weeks, and tolerance to THC’s sedative effect recovered quicker than its effect on pain. So the brain mechanisms that promote quicker tolerance are also most resilient and recover quicker from a period of abstinence.
Similarly, there are proteins in the cell that act like the coach to detect weak receptors and pull them from the game. Desensitized CB1 receptors are detected by components within the cell that tag the receptor with a phosphate group. This is like the pitcher telling the coach to take them out of the game. This phosphate group signals to additional components within the cell to remove the receptor from the cell’s surface. At this point, both the pitcher and the CB1 receptor are no longer active players.
As a result, if you continue to consume THC, it will have less of an effect on brain functioning because there are fewer receptors for it to act on.
But here’s the thing: if you stop, the brain can recover. And it does so impressively quickly, generally within weeks.
A study of daily cannabis users reported that users had reduced CB1 receptors compared to non-users, which increased to around-normal after just two weeks of abstinence. Importantly, this study didn’t assess whether CB1 receptors remained desensitized. However, additional studies demonstrated that withdrawal is more intense when there are fewer available CB1 receptors for THC to bind, suggesting that tolerance is indeed the internalization of CB1 receptors.
The activation of CB1 receptors by THC initiates these processes. As CB1 receptors get frequently activated, they become less associated with the components that carry out the receptors effects. CB1 receptors are like a baseball pitcher who throws a lot of pitches. Eventually, the pitcher’s muscles can’t carry out the task of throwing the ball as hard as it once could. This weakening strength is observed by the coach who then pulls the pitcher out of the game.
Learn about how THC tolerance develops and why your tolerance to cannabis recovers quickly once you take a break.