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What is Greening Out?

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What is Greening Out?
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

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The term “overdose” often conjures images of severe reactions to substances like alcohol or heroin, potentially resulting in death or lasting health issues if not addressed. While marijuana is generally not associated with fatal overdoses, excessive consumption can lead to a condition known as “greening out.” This state is akin to overdosing on cannabis, where the individual may face intense discomfort or adverse reactions, even though it doesn’t carry the same lethal risks as other substances.

What is Greening Out?

Greening out” might not be as commonly understood as the concept of blacking out from excessive alcohol intake, where memories of events fade. Yet, greening out is a significant concern for cannabis users. This condition arises from consuming an overly large amount of cannabis, leading to a range of distressing mental and physical effects.

Cannabis, unlike alcohol, is not a depressant but a psychoactive substance that impacts the central nervous system, altering perceptions and states of consciousness. Therefore, overindulgence in cannabis through smoking or edibles can provoke serious negative reactions in both the mind and body.

Continue reading to discover strategies for avoiding greening out, recognizing its symptoms, and effectively managing this condition.

What Causes a Marijuana Green Out?

Greening out on marijuana can be caused by the following:

  • Edibles: Consuming a large quantity of THC-infused edibles or raw marijuana flowers can precipitate a green out.
  • Vaping: The use of THC-rich vape cartridges is another common trigger.
  • Potent Concentrates: Engaging with high-strength cannabis concentrates such as shatter, wax, oil, and butter, known for their significantly higher THC content compared to traditional cannabis flowers, can lead to greening out. This includes products from various strains like sativa, indica, and hybrids.
  • Combining Substances: Mixing marijuana with alcohol or other drugs—a practice known as crossfading—increases the risk of experiencing a green out due to the compounded effects on the body.

What Is a Cannabis Green Out?

A cannabis green out occurs when an individual experiences discomfort or sickness following the intake of cannabis products rich in THC, leading to an overwhelming sensation.

What Is the Term for Greening Out?

Commonly referred to as a “cannabis overdose,” greening out describes a state where the individual feels excessively high, overwhelmed by the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Symptoms of Greening Out

Identifying a green out from just a strong high can be challenging, but there are specific signs to watch for that indicate someone might be experiencing a green out:

  • A noticeably pale or ashen skin tone
  • Experiencing dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • A sudden inability to move or feeling immobilized
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Vision becomes blurry
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Experiencing mild hallucinations
  • Overwhelming anxiety or paranoia
  • The onset of panic attacks
  • A drop in blood sugar levels
  • Experiencing a rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting

During a green out, individuals often undergo intense anxiety, with fears that the discomfort or panic will never subside, prompting worries about needing immediate medical intervention.

What Are the Signs of Greening?

Recognizing the signs of greening out is essential for timely support and care. These signs often manifest as:

  • A pale complexion
  • Impaired speech
  • Cottonmouth
  • Intense paranoia
  • Nausea and the urge to vomit
  • A noticeable decline in physical coordination
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Sensations of being lightheaded
  • Reddened, bloodshot eyes
  • Experiencing a panic attack

How Long Does Greening Out Usually Last?

The impact of greening out can vary, lasting from a few moments to several hours, and in some instances, the discomfort may persist throughout the day. Typically, these symptoms subside within 24 hours.

Factors influencing the duration include the individual’s level of hydration, their tolerance to cannabis, the quantity ingested, and the speed of consumption.

What To Do If Greening Out?

Here are 7 Tips for Managing a Green Out effectively:

  1. Stay Calm: Elevated heart rates and anxiety are common during a green out. If it’s you or someone else experiencing these symptoms, maintain a calm demeanor. Encourage deep breaths, play some calming music, and use reassuring words to soothe the person affected.
  2. Avoid Being Alone: The confusion and mild hallucinations that come with greening out are better managed with someone by your side. If you’re assisting someone through a green out, ensure they’re not left alone and are in a comfortable, safe environment.
  3. Keep a Close Watch: Pay attention to the person’s behavior and physical state, ready to assist or get help if needed.
  4. Hydration is Key: Drinking water or fruit juices can mitigate the symptoms, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels which can fluctuate during a green out.
  5. Rest and Relax: Lying down in a quiet place may alleviate the discomfort. THC can induce drowsiness, so attempting to sleep through the symptoms could be beneficial.
  6. Choose the Right Foods: While it’s advisable to eat something to help your body process the THC, avoid high-fat foods as they might intensify the greening out symptoms. Opt for lighter snacks like fruits, bread, or popcorn instead.
  7. When in Doubt, Seek Help: Should the situation escalate or if violent symptoms emerge, it’s crucial to seek medical assistance without delay.

What Are the Dangers of Greening Out?

Experiencing a green out can lead to a range of uncomfortable and potentially harmful symptoms. Recognizing these risks is essential for ensuring safety and well-being.

Accident Risk

Impaired coordination, dizziness, and altered judgment from greening out elevate the danger of accidents. Such impairment is particularly risky for activities like driving or operating heavy machinery.

Mental Health Impact

Frequent greening out episodes can adversely affect mental health, potentially triggering severe anxiety, feelings of detachment from oneself or reality, and exacerbating or precipitating mental health disorders like psychosis or anxiety.

Risk of Poisoning

Overconsumption, particularly of cannabis edibles, poses a risk of poisoning. Their delayed onset can lead to consuming higher amounts than intended, increasing the risk of adverse effects, including those serious enough to require medical attention.

Potential for Abuse and Addiction

Persistent greening out can escalate tolerance to THC, paving the way for cannabis abuse and addiction. Factors influencing this risk include the method of cannabis use, individual and environmental factors, and a history of mental health or substance use issues.

While fatalities from cannabinoid overdose are rare, the potential for significant discomfort, health complications, and the development of cannabis use disorder underscores the importance of understanding and mitigating the risks associated with excessive cannabis consumption.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Greening Out?

The persistent consumption of cannabis, particularly in high doses, introduces a variety of long-term consequences that can vary widely among individuals. Factors such as the potency of the cannabis, the frequency of use, and the presence of other health issues or substances can influence these outcomes.

While research into the extended effects of frequent cannabis overdoses, or “greening out,” continues to evolve, several potential long-term repercussions have been identified. These include:

  • Cognitive Challenges: Regular cannabis use, especially in large amounts, can lead to memory difficulties, impairments in learning, and challenges with impulse control.
  • Decreased IQ: Studies suggest a potential link between heavy cannabis use and a decline in IQ, particularly when use begins in adolescence.
  • Mental Health Issues: Ongoing use can exacerbate existing mental health problems or contribute to the emergence of new symptoms.
  • Lung Health Concerns: Smoking or vaping cannabis is associated with damaged lung tissue and an increased risk of respiratory conditions, including chronic bronchitis and infections such as pneumonia.
  • Cardiovascular Risks: Frequent cannabis use may heighten the risk of heart-related issues, including heart attacks, particularly in those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.

It’s important to recognize that cannabis affects everyone differently, and the long-term impact can vary based on individual health profiles and usage patterns. As the understanding of cannabis and its effects continues to grow, so does the awareness of the potential risks associated with its misuse or overuse.

Are You Really Greening Out?

While cannabis alone is not known to cause fatal overdoses, the unregulated nature of marijuana poses risks due to potential contamination with harmful substances. Street marijuana might be adulterated with hazardous materials, each carrying its own set of dangerous symptoms:

  • Lead or Heavy Metals: Contamination can lead to severe health problems.
  • Glass Particles: Added to increase weight can cause internal injuries.
  • PCP (Phencyclidine): Leads to severe psychological effects, including hallucinations, delusions, and potentially harmful behavior.
  • Heroin: Mixing with cannabis can result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, and unconsciousness.
  • Embalming Fluid: Known to impair cognitive functions severely.
  • Detergents: Can cause unpredictable chemical reactions and health issues.
  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide): Introduces intense, sometimes distressing hallucinations.
  • Methamphetamine: Can provoke extreme agitation, hallucinations, and delusions.
  • Fentanyl: A potent opioid that significantly increases overdose risk.
  • Ketamine: Causes disassociation, dehydration, and overheating.
  • Cocaine: May induce severe paranoia, hallucinations, and heightened risk of seizures.

These adulterants dramatically alter the effects of cannabis, potentially leading to severe health consequences beyond the typical symptoms of greening out. Awareness and caution are essential when consuming cannabis to avoid these added risks.

Get Help for Cannabis Addiction in Chattanooga, TN

Experiencing greening out or struggling with marijuana addiction in Chattanooga, TN? Iris Wellness Group is here to offer support. We’ll conduct a thorough evaluation of your situation and tailor an addiction treatment plan to suit your needs. With a comprehensive range of outpatient services, including outpatient medical detox, standard outpatient treatment programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), along with expert clinical support, we’re committed to guiding you toward a path of recovery.

Contact us today at 423-919-9549 or fill out our online form to us today to embark on your journey towards sobriety.

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