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6 Ways to Manage Weed-Induced Paranoia

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Uh-oh. Have you been here 20 minutes or 2 hours? Is she talking to you? You’re preoccupied by your irregular, pounding pulse. You’re definitely breathing too loudly. Your friends, your boss, and everyone you’ve ever met all hate you. Hey, is that the cops?

Nope. That’s weed paranoia.

Being high can be intense, stimulating sensory experience. As your brain tries to sort out these weird sensations, it can trick you into thinking something’s actually, seriously wrong. And, as Leafly also points out, anxiety-prone people tend to use cannabis as a self-prescribed anxiety medicine, opposing the idea that cannabis is what’s causing the anxiety.”

But for some people weed can, seemingly paradoxically, reduce anxiety and ease PTSD symptoms. Here are some ways to channel the kinder, gentler side.

1. Prevention

Start slow — especially with edibles. Most Dej Loaf-style near-death-experience-freak-outs happen because people who aren’t used to weed eat a bunch of it. If it’s your first time, smoking or vaping gives maximum effects, but dissipates more quickly and lets you better gauge how high you’re going to get. Also, don’t smoke with people unless they have good vibes: drug, set and setting are key.

2. Mindfulness

Instead of getting freaked out by what you’re feeling and thinking, try adopting a perspective of curious mindfulness. Marijuana, for instance, often causes rapid heartbeat: from a mindfulness perspective, you can simply notice that your heart is beating fast. No need to freak out: just investigate your feeling from a perspective of curiosity. Or focus on something else.

3. Water

Being dehydrated increases anxiety by hampering blood flow, preventing hormones from reaching their destined locations. Your muscles may tense up. Your brain, 85% water, may experience changes as a result of water loss. When your body and mind are stressed, step one should be a nice, ice-cold glass of water.

4. Pepper

Sounds like some hippie thing, but there’s actually science to back up the idea that sniffing/​chewing black peppercorns can mitigate paranoia. Owen Smith writes in Canada’s Cannabis Digest that a few sniffs of pepper gives an immediate calming effect: others report feeling relief within an hour of chewing on peppercorns. Neil Young has said he swears by this method. In a scientific review published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, author Ethan Russo points out the connections between THC and terpenoids found in pepper.

5. Stretch

Curling up into a ball on the couch might feel like the only thing you can do, possibly forever, but you need to break free, man. Put on some music, move around, touch your toes. Listen to John Coltrane or Talking Heads or DJ Shadow: any music with enough complexity to focus your stoned mind. It’s hard to feel scared while you’re consciously aware of your body in time and space.

6. Become cool with being (temporarily) dumb

Observe your wandering mind and allow yourself to be OK with feeling different than usual. You may be slow to answer questions, forgetful or even sleepy. Give yourself permission to feel into this altered state of consciousness and remind yourself that the this state is only temporary.

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