In an ideal world, a smoke sesh goes perfectly.
You enjoy the perfect amount of the perfect weed, you get exactly high as you had intended to, you revel in the experience, and your transition into a blissful night’s sleep.
Things don’t always work that way.
Perhaps you got out of control and overdid things, or you didn’t realize how strong your buddy’s weed was going to be, or the edible was so delicious that you couldn’t stop eating it until it was too late — and now you’re dealing with a “greenout,” the common term for cannabis-induced nausea, sweating, heart palpitations or even panic.
Or perhaps you got just as high as you wanted, but didn’t pay attention to the time — and now you have to head to work or visit your parents.
Is there any way to sober up? Preferably, in a hurry?
Just like drinking black coffee isn’t a magic bullet when you’ve had too much to drink, none of the solutions you hear about from friends or see online is going to magically bring you back to earth in a flash. And none of them has been scientifically proven to counteract the effects of weed.
Some of them may help speed the process, though. Here are the best ones to try.
1. Calm Down And Don’t Panic
Easier said than done, we know. But no one’s ever died from a marijuana overdose, and greenouts don’t last long. You’ll soon be feeling fine, probably in a matter of minutes.
Breathe deeply, focusing on your breath rather than whatever else you might be feeling. Find a quiet place where you won’t be freaked out, and relax or lie down. Or talk to a friend (if no one’s around, call someone) who can help calm you down and convince you that things are going to be fine.
Oh, and next time, try putting down the pipe just a bit earlier.
We’re talking about water here. Alcohol may boost the effects of the weed, as may some types of fruit juices (because they contain terpenes, too). Water will ease the cottonmouth you’re probably feeling, and focusing on the simple act of drinking and swallowing will take your mind off any anxiety or weird feelings you’re experiencing.
If you’re up to it, nibbling on some cheese or nuts may also help bring you back into the real world. Needless to say, edibles will not be helpful.
3. Check Your Spice Cabinet
Believe it or not, one of the time-honored ways to come down quickly from a too-high weed high is to chew on a few black peppercorns. All you have in your kitchen is the ground pepper you use for cooking or sprinkling on food? Pour some into your hand or onto a plate, and inhale the aroma deeply (but carefully — trust us, you don’t want to be doing a line of pepper).
What’s the point? For one thing, it can shift your focus and make you feel more alert and awake. More importantly, though, there are terpenes like beta-caryophyllene in black pepper; some researchers have claimed that their similarity to the terpenes in cannabis allows them to act as “antidotes to (cannabis) intoxication.” That’s just a theory that hasn’t been proven, but there’s enough anecdotal evidence to back the idea that black pepper can certainly help when you’re floundering in a weed wasteland.
4. Now Check Your Refrigerator
If you’re the type of person who keeps lemons on hand, cut one in half, squeeze it and inhale the scent. (Or bite into it, if you’re brave.) The terpenes in lemons (specifically, limonene) may act in the same way as those in black pepper; limonene is also known for its ability to reduce anxiety, which may be helpful if toking up has made you more anxious or panicky. If all you have is bottled lemon juice, it’s the second-best choice.
5. Try Some CBD
Preliminary research has found that CBD, one of the other cannabinoids that’s also present in weed, may act to balance some of THC’s effects — in particular, severe anxiety and paranoia. Taking some CBD won’t necessarily snap you out of a bad greenout, but it might help somewhat.
These days lots of people have CBD oil or gummies on hand for medicinal purposes, so it’s certainly worth a try. Even better would be smoking some CBD flower if you happen to have any; the flower will take effect almost immediately, while ingested CBD can take 30-60 minutes to kick in.
6. Take A Shower
Taking a cold shower won’t sober you up after you’ve been drinking, and it won’t reverse the effects of smoking too much weed, either. But it may help “wake you up” the same way that it does after a bender at the bar. Conversely, a warm or hot shower may help you relax enough to realize that you’re actually OK after a brief bout with the sweats or anxiety. Even splashing water on your face might do some good.
7. Ibuprofen Might Help
You’d be more likely to think about popping some Advil or Motrin after drinking too much, but it might be a good idea if you’ve overdone the smoking, too. There are animal studies claiming that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen appear to counteract some of the effects of THC, particularly in the parts of the brain that control fear and spatial relationships. If you’re going to give this one a try, one warning: Tylenol doesn’t count, because it’s not an anti-inflammatory.
8. Try Focusing On Something You Enjoy
One of the hazards of cannabis-induced anxiety or paranoia is that the more you think about it, the more anxious you get. If you find this happening, shift your focus to something that will make you happy. Take a walk (if you’re not too shaky to do it); the fresh air will help, too. Turn on the TV or find some YouTube videos of cooking, cats, or whatever else makes you relax and smile. Or just talk about something other than getting high with the people you’ve smoked up with. It won’t be long before you’re feeling fine — and resolving to go easier on the weed the next time.
How To Sober Up From Weed FAQ
Q: Is there a point when you should head to the emergency room?
A: If the physical effects don’t start to calm down after a little while, and if you’ve tried a few of these suggestions with no relief, it’s better to be safe than sorry — even though, as we’ve said, there’s never been a reported case of a death from a weed overdose. Medical professionals are obligated to treat you even if marijuana is illegal in your state. And if you start to feel other types of symptoms, particularly heart-related ones, seeking medical help would be a good idea.
Q: Can drinking coffee help you sober up after smoking too much weed?
A: It’s not a good idea, especially if you’ve been smoking an energizing sativa strain. The caffeine in coffee (and soda) can prolong your high instead of bringing you back down.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Injury and Death. In The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. National Academies Press (US). 
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