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Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis) Overdose Symptoms, Signs, & Treatment

Marijuana is a very popular drug—and a legal one in several states—yet many people don’t realize that it still carries risks and the possibility of harm.

Marijuana Overdose Symptoms & Signs

While rare, a marijuana overdose is still possible in some cases. An overdose could have an impact mentally, affect the heart, and lead to pale skin. Signs and symptoms of weed overdose might include:1,2

  • Extreme anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Psychotic reactions, in which someone loses touch with reality or becomes paranoid, sometimes in the form of hallucinations, delusions, or a loss of personal identity.
  • Decreased judgment, perception, and coordination that can lead to injuries or even death.
  • A fast heart rate, chest pain, or heart attack.
  • Uncontrollable shaking or seizures.
  • Pale skin color.
  • Unresponsiveness.
  • Sudden high blood pressure with headache.

When symptoms are severe, get medical attention—call 911 or drive to the nearest emergency room—to ensure that the person overdosing is monitored for complications and dangerous side effects.

Noticeable side effects of smoked marijuana may last for 1 to 3 hours, while the effects of marijuana consumed in food (known as edibles) or drink may last for several hours.

Can You Overdose on Weed?

Polysubstance use or abuse is the most common risk factor that increases a person’s chance of overdosing on weed. This involves taking multiple drugs to attain a desired high. Certain drug combinations can be deadly, and the consequences increase when marijuana is combined with alcohol.3 Marijuana and alcohol consumed together is the most frequently encountered substance combination implicated in car accidents. Though the mechanisms aren’t entirely clear, beyond the obvious risks introduced by combining two distinct intoxicants, alcohol may increase the level of marijuana’s primary psychoactive element, THC, in the blood.3

Additional risk factors include:4

  • Pre-existing health issues, such as heart or breathing problems (heart disease, asthma, etc.) that can produce fatal side effects.
  • History of use (amount and duration of use).
  • Using in combination with prescription medication.

What to Do if You Have A Marijuana Overdose?

It is important to treat a marijuana overdose if you or someone you know is experiencing some of the signs and symptoms mentioned previously. If you are in doubt as to whether you are experiencing the side effects of a marijuana or THC overdose, it is still best to seek medical help immediately by:

  • Calling 911.
  • Going to the nearest emergency room (if someone with you is overdosing; never drive yourself if you are overdosing).
  • Finding someone to help you if you are experiencing an overdose.
  • Staying with someone who is experiencing an overdose to monitor them for worsening symptoms.

If the person overdosing has stopped breathing, immediately begin administering CPR if you are trained to do so. People who are taken to the emergency room may be given a sedative, breathing support, a chest X-ray, IV fluids, and medicine to relieve symptoms.

Prevention of Weed Overdose

Understanding that marijuana is a serious drug and has the strength to lead to an overdose is an important factor in combatting overdoses altogether. In order to prevent a marijuana overdose, the following practices may be taken into consideration:

  • Abstaining from marijuana abuse.
  • Lowering amounts of marijuana use.
  • Being aware of the potentially dangerous interaction of marijuana with alcohol—avoiding this and other drug combinations altogether.
  • Being aware of a decrease in tolerance after a period of abstinence.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Being aware of any additional chemicals that may be in marijuana.
  • Having knowledge of health conditions that could be made worse by marijuana use.
  • Changing people, places, and friends so that exposure to the drug is decreased or eliminated.
  • Seeking professional help for marijuana addiction.

It is also very important to avoid other situations involving marijuana that can be deadly, such as driving while under the influence. AAA reported that cannabis-involved fatalities increased from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014.5

There are many risks—some minor, some deadly—that are associated with marijuana use. Luckily, treatment is available at any stage of marijuana use.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Types

While the symptoms of marijuana overdose tend to be relatively mild—thus typically negating the need for critical care—depending on your circumstances, you may find traditional drug treatment options helpful in getting you through the residual effects of your overdose and onto the road to recovery.

Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour medical care and therapeutic support for people dealing with drug abuse, addiction, or overdose. Patients live onsite for 30 days to 90 days and then move on to a lower level of care.

Outpatient therapy is a treatment which typically includes a commitment of 1 to 2 hours a day, 1 to 2 days a week. This therapy is less structured and supportive than other forms of therapy, but it is helpful for people who wish to engage in treatment but who must also attend to work and family commitments. Sometimes people receive outpatient therapy after completing higher levels of care.

Partial hospitalization is a treatment program type that takes place in the hospital but allows patients to go home at night. It is similar to inpatient treatment but doesn’t offer 24-hour support. Patients typically attend a program 4 to 5 days a week for 6 to 8 hours a day.

Intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) is typically done 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week and is more intense than regular outpatient therapy. While the schedule is intensive, it is designed to fit in with work and family life and is extremely supportive.

Therapy Types for Marijuana Addiction

Holistic therapy aims to treat the client as a whole through focusing on the body, spirit, and mind in the quest for optimal health and wellness. This is done to avoid imbalances in physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness that can negatively impact overall health. Therefore, the addiction to or abuse of marijuana is not the only thing treated. For example, holistic therapy may have you practice a healthier lifestyle and work on improving your mental health.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches people skills to identify faulty thoughts and thought patterns that encourage drug use and replace them with more accurate and healthy ones.1

Find Cannabis Treatment Programs

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. If you abuse or are addicted to marijuana, have overdosed, or are concerned abour your cannabis use, call a treatment consultant today at to learn about your treatment options.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly using the form below if your health insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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