Here’s what you can do to help anyone that’s experiencing a “green-out” from an intense cannabis high

Published May 5, 2019 01:02 p.m. ET
Photo Credit Adrian Wyld

If you have never heard of a green-out than you are one of the lucky ones. A green-out is an often-overwhelming experience that leaves a marijuana consumer too stoned — resulting in an uncomfortable or panicked state that can be challenging to manage in the moment and a terrifying sight to see if it’s a close friend or family member. This side effect is most notoriously caused by marijuana edibles since they are made in highly concentrated doses and then consumed by people with little to no experience with ingesting such massive doses of cannabinoids. However, it can happen to anyone who comes across the wrong weed strains that are just a bit too overpowering for the senses, as well as people who take too much. This includes people that smoke weed everyday. Especially if they are dappling in marijuana edibles experimentation for the very first time or in combination with other substances, unfortunately, there is no cure all for the symptoms of cannabis overconsumption, but there are several things you can do to help someone who has taken a bit too much stay calm and comfortable as it wears off.

10 things you can do to help a friend come down from a high

1. Keep them hydrated

This one is an excellent starting point and one that goes a long way in offering some additional comfort. Over 80% of people walk around dehydrated, to begin with, and smoking marijuana will exacerbate any symptoms of too little water and cause sensations like cotton mouth. A nice cold drink will help give them something to concentrate on and perk them up as the water is absorbed.

2. Offer snacks

One of the most famous side effects from smoking cannabis is a symptom so fondly referred to as the munchies. It’s an uncontrollable urge to eat everything in sight thanks to the cannabinoids in many weed strains that stimulate appetite. Food can help in the same way that water does and will also calm the stomach as the high wears off. Light easy to grab snacks like chips, crackers, or Cheesies might be typical go to, but in some cases, a nice hearty meal is enough to bring the person around. Offer up whatever they feel comfortable with to help them during this challenging time.

3. Turn down the lights

One of the benefits of smoking weed is the extra sensitive connection that is achieved as your senses are heightened. Unfortunately, when this sensation gets taken too far, it can become unbearable to hear yelling or loud music while feeling so overwhelmed. Much in the same way you would sleep in a dark room when sick, it’s a great idea to dim the lights to avoid the excess stimulation which can cause discomfort.

4. No noise

As mentioned above, stimulations of the already sensitive person are much more likely to hurt rather than help. Whenever possible, remove the individual from any noise or crowds to give them a chance alone in silence to gather their thoughts. Sometimes a small removal from whatever activity is at hand is enough for the person to come down from the buzz enough to enjoy themselves again. So, it should always be your goal to remove anyone who is experiencing a green-out from all the commotion and loud sounds.

5. Find them somewhere comfortable to sit or lay down.

When you are guiding your friend away from the festivities or people it might be a good idea to find a comfortable chair or bed where they can sprawl out and take a nap if necessary. Some weed strains are equipped with the uncanny ability to put people to sleep, and a good power nap might be just what the doctor would order for this kind of occasion.

6. Do not leave them alone.

This is mainly true if the person is panicking and not asking to be left alone. When you are scared, the last thing you want is for everyone to walk away. Take notice and begin offering assistance as soon as you see someone in distress without leaving their side unless they ask you too. In some cases, the person who over consumed might prefer to be left alone, in which case, it is still a good idea to check in every so often and not go too far until they are awake and alert and 100% safe.

7. Reassure and communicate

Though we would like to hope that our friend hasn’t taken anything by accident, it is important to keep track of adverse reactions after consuming anything. The same is true for cannabis laced products. Once you have the person in a room that is comfortable with the least stimulation possible, it is time to start asking questions to assess the situation. If they just smoked a joint, that was a bit overwhelming than the effects should wear off over the next 1-6 hours or so. Be sure to tell them what to expect as far as how long it should last and communicate what you are also thinking to keep your bases covered. Marijuana edibles can take up to 12 hours to entirely wear off but typically begin to fade within 2 hours.

8. Talk in a low and calming voice.

Since someone who is experiencing a green-out is likely feeling an over stimulation of all the senses including hearing, this is why it is best to speak in low and soothing tones whenever possible. This will help them to focus on your voice, rather than trying to drown it out in a panic.

9. Stay calm.

If your friend or family member is experiencing a green-out than they are likely in a bit of panic then adding to that is only going to make things worse. Be confident, stay calm, and maintain composure as much as possible. It might be difficult, especially if this is your first experience with over consumption, but the most significant challenge during a green-out is panic. Try to keep your cool, and you walk them through the recommended treatment steps.

10. Remember this experience for the future.

There is only so much that you can do for a person who has gotten way too high, but it’s important to remember a few things moving forward.

  1. Smoking weed is non-toxic and short lived, and even overconsumption rarely warrants an emergency visit.
  2. Keep this list bookmarked in your phone or printed out on the fridge for fast and easy access when you need it.
  3. Once the individual can solidify what all they consumed immediately before the green-out episode; it is important to watch out for this sort of mistake in the future. The next time you see them reach for a pot brownie, or brew an extra bowl gently remind them of the incident and try to convince them to lower their intake to an amount that is more manageable for them.

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