When you are high or stoned, your brain works differently. This can be a good thing, for people who use cannabis to counter stress or to cope with negative thoughts. For others, cannabis can cause and trigger paranoia. This can be a very unpleasant side effect and for a lot of people, it’s a reason to quit cannabis or not to use it at all. One of the possible causes are high THC percentages, combined with very low CBD and/or CBG percentages. In this blog, we’ll explain how cannabis can cause paranoia and how you can prevent it from happening during your next sesh.
Cannabis Paranoia: What Is It?
When someone is paranoid, they are convinced that others are against them. They become suspicious and look for reason behind everything. Some might think they are being followed or that there’s a big conspiracy going on. A person that’s paranoid, will always think someone or something is trying to bring them down. The most normal and harmless comments can suddenly be interpreted as an attack or a clue that suggests someone is trying to swindle them.
Paranoia is not the same as anxiety. There are some similarities, but it’s important to explain the difference. Anxiety or ‘angst’ is a normal emotion, especially when someone has experienced something that was frighting or drastic. Anxiety can make people feel worried about what people think of them. This will likely make them even more stressed or fidgety. The main difference here is that someone who’s feeling anxious might doubt, stress, and feel insecure about what people think about them. When you are paranoid, you are not in doubt, but completely convinced by your own irrational thoughts. Paranoia can be seen as the extreme version of anxiety.
This is the case for paranoia in general, as a personality disorder. It also applies to paranoia that’s triggered by the consumption of cannabis. In this instance someone is usually not paranoid, but feels this way throughout their high. The paranoid thoughts will fade away as the high fades. When someone experiences paranoia from cannabis, it’s usually not a pleasant or happy time. They feel suspicious, anxious and stressed. Some people never experience these kind side effects, others can’t avoid them. How does this work and how can you prevent paranoia from taking over your high?
Cannabis And The Brain: Why Does Paranoia Occur?
When consuming cannabis, the active components enter your bloodstream. Cannabis is rich in a variety of cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. As most of you will know, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive substance and CBD (cannabidiol) has a calming non-psychoactive properties. When it comes to paranoia, THC is the most important component.
When trying to understand where paranoia comes from, it’s good to understand a little about the endocannabinoid system in your body. This system in responsible for a lot of different functions throughout the human, and a lot of animal’s, bodies. It makes sure that endocannabinoids, produced by the body, can transfer information to cells. The ECS is in the nervous system, the immune system, the brains, and many organs. Paranoia is caused by the connection that THC can make within the brain, in particular, the neurons of the amygdala.
Cannabis And The Amygdala
One of the taks of the amygdala is to experience, process, and direct emotions, mostly anxiety and stress. Endocannabinoids are involved in this too. They are produced by your body to regulate certain emotions, like anxiety. These endocannabinoids are broken down by enzymes once they’ve done their job. Vegetal cannabinoids like CBD and THC can cooperate with the ECS in the same way. What stands out, is that these cannabinoids are not broken down by the designated enzymes. THC and CBD can stay connected with the ECS, much longer than is needed. This can be the reason why some people experience paranoia after consuming cannabis.
Above all, THC connects with the GABA receptors in the brain. This causes the brain to stop releasing dopamine. This leads to an amplification of the dopamine levels which causes a euphoric feeling. When consuming cannabis for a longer period of time, the area in the brain that’s responsible for dopamine levels becomes overstimulated. This results in lower dopamine levels, which can result in social anxiety, which can lead to paranoia.
How To Prevent Cannabis Paranoia
Paranoia from cannabis has two sides: cannabis can also be used to battle anxiety. Research shows that THC has anti-anxiety properties within the amygdala. It can even be used in therapy against PTSS. For some people however, cannabis can trigger anxiety and paranoia. Luckily, there are multiple ways to prevent cannabis paranoia.
Firstly, choose the strain you’re consuming wisely. The more THC that’s consumed, the more likely someone is to experience paranoia or other unwanted side effects. A strong strains or even concentrates can make dosing a lot harder. Apart from this, the ratio of CBD:THC can also be of influence. Not much research has been done on this front, but from experiences and some small researches, it looks like strains with more balanced CBD:THC rations can drastically decrease the psychoactive effects, therefore minimizing the chance of feeling paranoia. CBD:THC balanced strains are becoming more popular in the legal states of the US too. CBD can ‘mute’ the psychoactive effects of THC to give a more calm, relaxing, and body high.
Another import factor you should weigh in: your own mood. If you are sensitive for anxiety or even paranoia, cannabis can amplify these feelings, especially when using cannabis for the first time. If you are diagnosed with paranoia, we recommend talking to your doctor first, cannabis might not be the ideal flower for you.
As discussed before, CBD can also minimise the chance of feeling paranoia or anxious. Using CBD Oil might be a useful and natural solutions to combat paranoia, because it defuses the functioning of the CB1 an CB2 receptors. THC, on the other hand, activates these receptors. You could choose to consume a more balanced THC:CBD strain, or mix a THC-dominant strains with a CBD-dominant strain like Blue Monkey CBD. This way, you can enjoy the psychoactive and relaxing effects from THC, while minimizing the chance that you get paranoid.
What To Do When You’re Feeling Paranoid?
What if you used cannabis and you start to feel paranoid? First of all: ask help from a friend or someone you trust. Your brain is not thinking rationally, let them explain that to you! Also, don’t forget to remind yourself that the high is temporary, and so is the anxiety. Make sure to head to a ‘safe space’, put on some relaxing music and try to chill out. If you know cannabis can cause paranoia for you personally, make sure pick strains you’ve had comfortable experiences with, and keep some CBD Oil within your reach. This can help you with calming down whenever the high is a little too much.