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From Casual Use to Compulsion: Understanding Dab Pen Addiction

The popularity and accessibility of e-cigarettes and vaporizer (vape) pens have contributed to the widespread use of marijuana concentrates. These devices provide a convenient and inconspicuous method for consuming the substance. Currently, marijuana consumption has evolved to include dab pens, which offer users a more expedited and potent psychoactive experience. Regrettably, the health and psychological risks remain the same. Here is what you need to know about dab pen addiction.

How Does a Dab Pen Work? 

The act of using a dab pen (“dabbing”) is essentially similar to vaping. Vaping refers to inhaling smoke or vapor produced by heating a liquid substance, typically in a portable electronic device known as an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or a vape. In a dab pen, the liquid substance is a concentrate derived from marijuana. This concentrate is known to produce stronger psychoactive effects than typical marijuana smoking.

Some marijuana vaping and dabbing devices look like USB flash drives, pens, or other innocuous daily items, making it easy to conceal their use. Typically, they comprise three essential components: a battery, a cartridge designed to hold the marijuana concentrate, and a heating element.

Is Dabbing the Same as Vaping?

The primary distinction between a dab pen and a vape pen lies in their functionality. A vape pen is designed to vaporize cannabis flower or oil, while a dab pen is specifically intended for “dabs” or vaporizing denser cannabis concentrates, such as wax or shatter.

Here is a brief overview of the three:

  • Oil is a concentrated and processed derivative of marijuana that bears a resemblance to honey in its appearance. The product is formulated by mixing various liquids and gases, including water, butane, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content–the psychoactive component–of the product ranges from 60% to 80%.
  • Wax is derived through a process that shares similarities with the production of oil. However, in order to produce a thick consistency, the liquid is stirred or whipped in the last stage of the process. The THC content of this product ranges from 60% to 80%.
  • Shatter is a cannabis concentrate that follows a production method also similar to creating oil; however, the process involves multiple cycles. Since it undergoes further purification and filtration, its effects tend to be more enhanced. The THC concentration in this product ranges from 75% to 90%.

Somestudies recommend that medical providers need to be aware of the dangers of dabbing. Dabs can contain different levels of contaminants and THC that have the potential to trigger a toxidrome, which can lead to symptoms such as psychosis, neurotoxicity, or cardiotoxicity.

What Causes Dab Pen Addiction? 

In recent years, several states have enacted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, including products such as dab pens. However, it is important to note that the legal availability of a substance does not guarantee its safety from the risk of addiction. Both the medical and recreational use of marijuana are currently illegal in the state of Georgia.

The use of marijuana commonly starts as an experimental phase, frequently occurring during an individual’s early stages of life. Over time, individuals may develop a dependence on the use of the drug as a means to enhance specific experiences or occupy their time. This is how dab pen addiction starts.

As the individual plunges deeper into dab pen usage, they may find themselves unable to experience feelings of joy, engage in recreational activities, or simply unwind without using the drug. Individuals dealing with dab pen addiction have a consistent need for the euphoric effects of marijuana, leading them to seek it out and consume it regularly, often continuously throughout each day.

Through dab pen addiction, individuals develop a strong dependence on marijuana, necessitating the need for professional treatment.

Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and Symptoms

Certain individuals who use marijuana may experience a condition known as cannabis use disorder (CUD). This condition manifests when individuals find themselves unable to discontinue their marijuana usage despite the adverse effects it has on their physical well-being and relationships.

According to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, it is estimated that 3 in 10 individuals who engage in marijuana consumption may experience CUD.

Some telltale indications may signify someone has developed a marijuana addiction:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive issues
  • Concentration problems
  • “Cottonmouth” or extreme dryness in the mouth
  • Coughing frequently
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to fulfill daily responsibilities
  • Inaccurate perception of time
  • Memory issues
  • Mood changes
  • Paranoia
  • Red or bloodshot eyes

The Dangers of Dab Pen Addiction

The high concentration of THC found in dab pens can pose significant risks, particularly for individuals not accustomed to consuming cannabis. Still, in any individual, dab pen addiction has the potential to produce more pronounced negative effects on physical and mental well-being.

An additional concern related to dab pen addiction is the potential development of increased tolerance to cannabis. When an individual’s tolerance to marijuana or any other drug increases, they will typically need increasing dosages of the substance to continually achieve the desired effect. As tolerance to a drug develops, so does addiction.

Ultimately, in situations where an individual can no longer derive the same level of satisfaction from dab pens, it is possible that they may be compelled to pursue more potent and hazardous substances.

How to Recover From Vaping, Dabbing, or Marijuana 

If individuals suddenly stop using a substance, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and fluctuations in mood. This may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, or fatigue. As these symptoms become unbearable, they can cause the individual to return to using the drug.

For this reason, it is recommended that individuals should not attempt to go through withdrawals unsupervised. At any point you decide to start recovery from marijuana or dab pen addiction, it is crucial to seek professional treatment right away.

Where to Find Treatment for Dab Pen Addiction in Atlanta, GA 

At Inner Voyage Recovery Center, we offer a comprehensive program designed specifically for individuals seeking treatment for marijuana or dab pen addiction in Atlanta, GA. We understand the unique needs and circumstances of each person who comes to us for help, and our program is tailored to address these individual factors. Our team offers a safe space for individuals to openly discuss addiction and explore strategies for building a fulfilling life without relying on marijuana.

Reach out to us today at (470) 523-4606 for any questions or to learn more about how we treat cannabis and other substance use disorders.