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What Are Dabs?

What are dabs? This piece will provide a guide to dab marijuana concentrate and its use, as well as offer treatment opportunities.

Understanding Dabs

The legalization of cannabis in many states has led to a rise in new products for the retail market.

Dabs are relatively new in the cannabis industry and are gaining popularity. Dab marijuana is doses of highly concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) meant to be smoked. The act of smoking dabs is called dabbing.

What Are Dabs

What Are Dabs?

Dabbing weed is made through a process that uses butane oil to extract plant oils from cannabis. The butane is poured over marijuana plants to extract the THC. The result is a semisolid product that is waxy or gummy.

Dab marijuana can be mixed into joints or smoked in pipes with natural cannabis. The dab can also be placed in a special heated device that vaporizes the wax to be inhaled. The dab high is more immediate and intense than traditional ways of smoking.

Slang for Dabs

Terms associated with dabbing include rosin, wax, crumble, budder, amber, shatter, wax dabs, and honeycomb.  

Statistics on Dabs

Dabbing weed provides people with higher levels of THC. Depending on the plant strains used to make them, dabs can contain up to an 80% concentration of cannabinoids—THC, CBD, or both. Compare that to the 10% to 30% concentration of cannabinoids found in cannabis flowers.

Is Dabbing Marijuana Addictive?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recent data shows that up to 30% of individuals who use marijuana develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. 1

Marijuana use disorder refers to the uncontrollable urge to use the drug despite its consequences. People who begin using cannabis before the age of eighteen are at a higher risk for developing marijuana use disorder than those who begin using marijuana in adulthood.

Impact of Dabbing Addiction

Some people believe that marijuana is not addictive, but there is no question that it can cause social, physical, and mental health problems. An estimated 48.2 million people in the U.S. used cannabis in 2019, making this drug the most used federally illegal substance. The Centers for Disease Control asserts that cannabis use disorder can lead to addiction as well as a host of other consequences. 2

Researchers do not yet completely understand all of the adverse side effects of dabs on the body or dabbing effects on brain development, especially for young people whose brains are still maturing.

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Types of Dabbing Weed

Dab oil and dab wax are the two main categories of dabbing marijuana. Dab oil is a liquid and comes in different viscosities, typically sold in a vial. The consistency of dab wax is often indicated by its name, such as crumble, live resin, or shatter concentrate dabs.

Dab Wax

Budder dabs are the most popular form of dab wax. Budder holds its shape, is less sticky than other types of wax, and is easy to apply to the dabbing ring.

Marijuana dispensary dabs may have other names, but they are always identified as cannabis concentrates.

Synthetic Dabs

Synthetic dabs are made from hundreds of synthetic cannabinoid chemicals that pose additional health risks. Some people believe synthetic dabs are safe and legal, but this is not true—many synthetic cannabis products are illegal.

Some dangers of synthetic dabs include breathing problems, kidney failure, heart attacks, and muscle problems. The effects of synthetic dabbing on brain tissue and brain chemical production are still being researched.

Types of Dabbing Devices

The two most common devices for dabbing are dab rigs and pens. These will be detailed below.

Dab Rig

Dabbing wax and dabbing oil can be smoked with a device called a dab rig or oil rig. Dab rigs are similar to bongs and include a platform (often called a “nail”) where the dab is placed after being heated with a torch lighter. Once placed on the heated nail, the dab begins to vaporize and is inhaled.

Dab Pen

People can also use a dab pen or vaporizer pen to smoke dab marijuana. Unlike dab rigs, a dab pen does not require a torch lighter because it has an internal heating element that vaporizes the dab wax almost instantly. Vaporizers can be used for dabbing THC oil and all types of dab wax, including shatter concentrate dabs.

The effects of a dab pen high and a dab high from a rig are similar because they both require the drug to be inhaled. However, many people prefer the dab pen high because the process is faster and does not require accessories, such as a torch lighter.

What Are the Dangers of Dabbing?

Dab concentrate is up to five times stronger than unprocessed marijuana. As a result, people may take in dose levels of between 60 mg and 100 mg of THC at one time.

Such high doses cause an abnormally large release of dopamine, depleting the brain’s neurotransmitters and leading to quicker dependency. A study published in Addictive Behaviors revealed that dabs led to a higher THC tolerance and more severe withdrawal symptoms4

Concerns about the long-term effects of processing chemicals, such as butane, are also among the dangers of dabbing. 

Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

Potential side effects of smoking dabs include the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Higher risk of using other substances
  • Damage to lung tissues
  • Potential harmful effects to a fetus if used during pregnancy
  • Impaired driving
  • Poor memory
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Long-term impacts on brain health
  • Panic attacks

Connection Between Anxiety and Smoking Dabs

Smoking dabs and anxiety, especially social anxiety, may be closely connected, as drug use often leads to isolation from people and activities.

Dabs Marketed Towards a Younger Demographic

Because of its high concentration of THC and the fact that dab wax is marketed to younger people, smoking dabs and cannabis use disorder are more common in adolescents and young adults.

Increased Dab Use

People who engage in dabbing may believe they adjust their use based on the strength of the marijuana. However, there are too many variations in potency to fully compensate for the higher concentration or determine the full health effects of dabbing.

Can You Overdose on Dabs Drugs?

Unlike opioids and some other substances, dab overdose symptoms are not fatal. Nevertheless, whether dabbing THC oil or shatter concentrate dabs, the side effects of smoking dabs is still a real concern.

What Are Dabs

Dab overdose Indications

Dab overdose symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypotension (increased heart rate and blood pressure)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia

Impact of Dab Overdose

A dab overdose can make people sick and cause unknown side effects that may not be recognized for years.

Dabbing affects the heart, lungs, mental health, and cognitive function. When weighing the pros and cons of smoking wax concentrates and other dabs drug products, remember that there is still much that researchers do not know about the accumulated side effects of smoking dabs.

Overcome Marijuana Addiction With Treatment at Ripple Ranch

If you’re concerned about your dabs drug use or worried that someone you know is oil dabbing or using shatter wax dabs, reach out to Ripple Ranch today. We provide comprehensive addiction treatment established on evidence-based therapies proven to help individuals struggling with substance use disorders.