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Can You Overdose on Marijuana?

Marijuana joints and buds on a stone table.  

While using the substance may not lead directly to death, you can overdose on marijuana. A marijuana overdose may cause extreme symptoms that require emergency medical treatment, and it may also impact your mental health in a way that indirectly leads to death or serious injury.

Marijuana is currently the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. Over 37.6 million people reportedly tried it at least once in 2017, and 1 in 10 people who try marijuana will form an addiction. When it comes to marijuana use in teens, 1 in 6 of those who try the drug before age 18 will become addicted.

Marijuana is made up of multiple chemical compounds called cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When a person uses marijuana in any form, THC is what causes the sensation of euphoria, or feeling high. However, a THC overdose can lead to severe side effects and long-term mental health problems, especially in teens.

Common Ways Teens Use Marijuana

Teens smoking weed in rolled cigarettes (joints), bongs and pipes are some of the most recognizable forms of marijuana use. However, there are several other ways to develop a high from the drug, including:

  • Vaping marijuana through an electronic cigarette
  • Eating or drinking marijuana edibles, such as brownies, cookies, candies, and beverages
  • Applying oils and extracts containing marijuana to the skin
  • Teens dabbing, or smoking oils with high marijuana concentrates of THC that are extracted using butane gas

Teen marijuana use is at its highest levels in three decades, and because there are so many ways to get high from the substance, parents are often left in the dark about what their kids are doing. While many states have made it legal for adults to use the drug for recreational or medical purposes, no place in the United States permits recreational marijuana use for anyone under the age of 21.

While many teens feel that marijuana is not addictive or dangerous, it can interfere with your day-to-day life by:

  • Impacting your school performance, such as by disrupting your ability to concentrate
  • Causing motor vehicle accidents
  • Potentially inspiring you to try other more dangerous drugs and alcohol
  • Changing your behavior, such as making you more aggressive, or leading to risky sexual situations
  • Preventing prescribed medication from working properly
  • Increasing the severity of mental illness symptoms
  • Worsening underlying physical health problems

Is It Possible to Overdose on Marijuana?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on marijuana. As a matter of fact, marijuana grown today typically contains two or three times the amount of THC it had in the past, making it easier for teens and adults to overdose. People who are familiar with marijuana use may refer to an overdose as “greening out.” Those who are new to the drug or trying a new strain are more prone to suffer from a greenout.

Parents and loved ones who worry about the potential for a teen drug overdose have every right to be concerned, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. Approximately 36% of high school seniors say they’ve smoked marijuana in the last year, and 6% report smoking it daily. Around 11% of eighth graders report having tried the substance in the last year.

Marijuana Overdose Symptoms

Marijuana overdose symptoms typically include:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Paranoia and hallucinations

Even when teens and young adults don’t overdose on marijuana, long-term use can have a negative impact on their health and development. For example, frequent marijuana use may double the chances of schizophrenia or psychosis in teens. Marijuana may also impact anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in teens.

What to Do If Someone Is Overdosing on Marijuana

If you or someone you know is suffering from a marijuana overdose, go to the emergency room as quickly as possible. Because a marijuana overdose is not deadly, doctors and nurses understand how to treat the marijuana overdose based on the symptoms. For example, if you are vomiting, the medical staff can administer fluids to prevent dehydration. If you are suffering from extreme psychological effects, the staff may administer a sedative. Once you have recovered, you may want to consider a teen drug rehab program to discourage future overdoses.

Do you worry about teen overdose or if your child could have a marijuana addiction? Consider beginning the journey to recovery with Next Generation Village. Both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs are available for teens with substance use disorders, including co-occurring disorders. Contact us today to learn more about a treatment plan to fit your teen’s individual needs.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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