You may have heard the term ‘smoking dabs’ and thought it had something to do with football player Cam Newton’s iconic arm/hand combo movements when he makes a great play. The truth is, though, when you hear about someone smoking dabs, you’re hearing them talk about using incredibly high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the chemical that processors extract from the resin of marijuana plants. Smoking dabs leaves you feeling the psychological effects of the marijuana plant.
What Is Dabbing?
So what is a dab? It’s the slang term that refers to high levels of THC concentrate from marijuana plants. Typically, the THC concentrate is a brown or yellow wax. It’s pretty sticky or gummy, and that’s where the name ‘dab’ came from. Sometimes marijuana dabs are also called wax, glass, budder, crumble, shatter, honey oil, and butane hash oil. It’s produced as a byproduct of a chemical process that uses butane oil to get the THC from cannabis. The butane is poured over marijuana, and then as the THC leaves the marijuana plant, it dissolves into the butane, leaving a gummy residue that’s loaded with THC.
What Is Smoking Dabs?
Typically when you’re using marijuana, you’re doing so by smoking a joint or sometimes using a vape pen. Marijuana dabs are sometimes heated to high temperatures and then inhaled. This process uses a glass bong explicitly designed to heat the dab and is often referred to as an oil rig. When you do this, you feel the psychological effects of the THC almost immediately.
You may often see people smoking dabs in vaping devices. This is common because there is no smoke or significant smell (as is often the case with a marijuana joint). It’s easy to cover the residual odor if there is one. No one really knows what you’re smoking, and quite often, this means that you can smoke dabs just about anywhere. For teens, this can often mean they can be smoking dabs at school with little chance of getting caught and having any consequences. Unfortunately, marijuana use has several negative effects on teens.
Is Dabbing Bad?
Many may tell you that dabbing is safer to use than a traditional marijuana joint because the effects of dabbing are so quick due to the highly concentrated amounts of THC. You may find the high happens with just one ‘hit,’ but the belief that it’s any safer is a myth.
Smoking dabs is NOT the same thing as smoking marijuana. In fact, a study found that when you smoke dabs, you may be lending yourself to a higher tolerance and worse withdrawal symptoms should you decide to stop.1 Experts use the analogy of smoking dabs is to smoking marijuana as using crack is to using cocaine. The incredibly high levels of THC make dabbing far more dangerous.
Additionally, producing dabs is also risky. The producer makes dabs by pouring butane (lighter fluid) over marijuana leaves. Because the butane is highly unstable and flammable, adding high heat as part of the process puts the person producing dabs in significant danger. Even more dangerous still is the butane gas that’s in the room. If any spark happens, an explosion similar to a meth lab blowing up is possible.
As if those risks are not enough, the side effects are dangerous too.
What Are The Side Effects of Smoking Dabs?
Smoking dabs puts you at risk of blackouts, rapid heart rates, skin-crawling sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, and loss of consciousness.
As if that’s not enough, researchers at Portland State University found a link to cancerous toxins and smoking dabs.2 Because producers create dabs using high heat levels, the person smoking them risks exposure to toxins. Some of those toxins are carcinogens and include methacrolein and benzene. Other researchers have shown that 80% of marijuana extracts contain deadly solvent and pesticides contaminants. Smoking dabs means you’ll be inhaling these harmful chemicals in high concentrations.3
Is Smoking Dabs Addictive?
While the jury may seem like it’s always out on the safety of marijuana use (particularly with the legalization for medicinal and recreational purposes in many places in the United States), dabbing does carry addictive dangers.
While it may not be chemically addictive like opioids or other drugs, habitual addiction from smoking dabs is possible and can be debilitating. Because the THC concentration is so high in dabs, overuse and abuse can lead to memory issues, critical thinking difficulties, loss of coordination, anxiety, insomnia, aversion to quitting, and increased tolerance to marijuana.
Due to the risk of increased tolerance, dabbing may increase addiction risks. This could lead to depression, heart issues, long-term decreased cognitive function, paranoia, hallucinations, and depression. In effect, smoking dabs can significantly change your life, and not for the better.
If you feel like your smoking dabs has taken you down a road you didn’t think you’d be on; there is hope. At Ocean Hills Recovery, we’ll walk with you and help break your habits, causing dabs misuse. We want you to have a clear mind so that your choices are healthy and made in your best interests.
Our goal is to help you live the life you want to live—substance-free—and our trained and compassionate staff is standing by as you take the first step. Let today be the day. Take your first step by contacting our team.
Sources: https://archives.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/dabbing-dangerous  https://www.pdx.edu/liberal-arts-sciences/news/portland-state-study-links-cancerous-toxins-cannabis-extract  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177718/
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.