The Dangerous Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

The Dangerous Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

With the legalization of marijuana in many states, the popularity of different forms of cannabis consumption has grown. One such form is dabbing, which involves smoking highly concentrated forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana. While dabbing can provide a more intense high, it also comes with significant risks and dangerous side effects. This article will discuss the potential side effects of smoking dabs and the impact it can have on physical and mental health.

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing refers to the inhalation or smoking of vapors produced by a highly concentrated form of THC. To create these concentrates, THC is extracted from marijuana using solvents like butane or carbon dioxide. The resulting product is a sticky paste or wax containing extremely high levels of THC, often reaching up to 80%.

Dabbing can be done using specialized devices known as dab rigs, which typically consist of a glass water pipe, a heating element, and a nail or banger where the concentrate is placed. The concentrate is heated to produce a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Hash oil can also be used for dabbing, often added to vape devices for a more discreet method of consumption.

Comparing Dabs to Traditional Marijuana

Compared to smoking traditional marijuana, dabbing provides a much more potent and immediate high. While regular marijuana typically contains 10-15% THC, dab concentrates can reach up to 80% THC, making them significantly stronger. This potency means that dabbing can have more powerful side effects and pose a higher risk to users.

The Physical Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

Smoking dabs can have a range of physical side effects, some of which can be severe and even life-threatening. These side effects include:

  1. Uncontrollable Shaking: Dabbing can lead to uncontrollable shaking, often referred to as "cannabis shakes." Users may experience twitches and tremors, which can become more pronounced after dabbing.
  2. Blackouts: After inhaling the vapors from dabs, many individuals report experiencing blackouts, temporary loss of consciousness that is not commonly associated with smoking regular marijuana.
  3. Vomiting: Dabbing can cause sudden and uncontrollable vomiting, especially if users inhale too much vapor at once. This is a side effect that is not typically associated with smoking marijuana.
  4. Respiratory Illnesses: The chemicals used in the extraction process of THC concentrates, combined with the high heat levels used to produce the vapors, can cause lung injury and other respiratory diseases. Wheezing coughs are common among dab users, and irritated lungs can lead to more severe illnesses if exposed to bacteria.

The Psychological Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

In addition to physical side effects, dabbing can also have significant psychological effects on users. These side effects of smoking dabs may include:

  1. Anxiety: Anxiety is a common side effect of marijuana use, but the intensity of THC in dabs can amplify feelings of anxiety and, in some cases, lead to panic attacks.
  2. Psychosis: High levels of THC, combined with other chemicals used in the extraction process, can increase the risk of experiencing severe psychosis. This can involve hallucinations, confusion, and uncontrollable behavior.
  3. Hallucinations: Dabbing has been linked to prolonged hallucinations, which can cause confusion and unpredictable behavior.
  4. Paranoia: Paranoia is a well-known side effect of THC, and dabbing, with its high levels of THC, can intensify feelings of paranoia and paranoia-related behavior.

The Risk of Addiction and Tolerance

Due to the high potency of dabs, there is an increased risk of developing an addiction or dependence on marijuana. The concentrated levels of THC can lead to both physical and psychological dependence, making it more difficult to quit. Users may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can be exacerbated when trying to quit dabbing instead of smoking traditional marijuana.

Additionally, regular dabbing can lead to an increased tolerance to THC. This means that users have to consume larger amounts of the concentrate to achieve the desired effects, which can result in more severe side effects. Increased tolerance also leads to higher expenses as more dabs are needed to achieve the same level of high.

The Dangers of the Manufacturing Process

The production of dabs involves a potentially dangerous manufacturing process. Extracting THC using solvents like butane is highly flammable and can lead to accidents and explosions. In home setups or situations where individuals may lack proper knowledge and equipment, the risk of mishandling butane and causing explosions or severe burns is significant. The manufacturing process of dabs can be as dangerous as producing methamphetamine.

Quality and Contamination Concerns

The quality and purity of THC concentrates can vary, especially when obtained from the black market. Some dabs may contain toxic chemicals or contaminants that can have serious health consequences when smoked. It is essential to obtain dabs from reputable sources to minimize the risk of exposure to harmful substances.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Recovery

Quitting dabbing can lead to withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced when quitting smoking traditional marijuana. These symptoms may include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, and disturbed dreams. The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person.

Recovery from marijuana addiction, including dab addiction, can be challenging. The withdrawal symptoms can be intense and may lead some individuals to relapse. Seeking professional help from a reputable recovery center can increase the chances of a successful and sustained recovery. Treatment programs and therapies tailored to address addiction and any co-occurring mental health issues can provide the necessary support for overcoming dab addiction.


While marijuana use is becoming more widely accepted, it is essential to understand the risks and dangers associated with different consumption methods: like the side effects of smoking dabs. Smoking dabs, with their high levels of THC, can lead to severe physical and psychological side effects. The potential for addiction, manufacturing hazards, and the risk of contaminated products further underscore the importance of informed decision-making and responsible use.

If you or a loved one is struggling with side effects of smoking dabs or any form of substance abuse, seeking professional help is crucial. Recovery centers can provide comprehensive treatment programs and support to overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery. Remember, everyone deserves a life free from the harmful effects of substance abuse, and help is available for those who seek it.


Fox- Researchers concerned about mental health risks of dabbing

Sedona Sky Academy- Dabbing and Teen Mental Health

Addictions, Drug, and Alcohol Institute- Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders

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