What is a Dab?

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Dab weed has become an extremely popular form of cannabis. Known for its high level of THC, this sticky form of cannabis creates a stronger high in a short amount of time and can lead to marijuana addiction. Read on as Avenues Recovery, leaders in addiction rehabilitation,  explains what is a weed dab and why this form of the drug is more dangerous than other forms of cannabis.

What is a Dab and Why Has Dabbing Become So Popular?

Dabbing is when one uses marijuana in the form of a dab to achieve a high. Dabs are concentrated forms of THC [1] used in recreational vaporizers (also known as vapes, vape pens, or e-cigarettes). Some dabs may have a THC concentration close to 100% – much higher than the 20% THC concentration found in regular cannabis. Therefore, dab weed causes a far quicker and stronger “high.”

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC for short) is a psychoactive substance extracted from cannabis and is the mind-altering ingredient responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use. This “high” alters one’s perception of reality and induces feelings of euphoria, heightened sociability, sexual pleasure, and relaxation.

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What is a Dab Made Out Of?

There are two types of Cannabis plants: male and female. Male cannabis plants create pollen sacs, while female plants produce THC-rich flowers. Dabs are made from trichomes, which are the most potent part of the Cannabis plant and contain a sticky sap-like substance called resin. For those unfamiliar with plant anatomy, the word “trichome” comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘hair’ because they are the fine outgrowths of a plant. Resin is most abundant in female buds that have not yet been pollinated.

How to Make Dabs

To turn the trichomes into dabs, the resin is extracted from the plant using a solvent. Butane gas, a highly flammable liquid, is commonly used (though carbon dioxide or ethyl alcohol can be used as well). Butane is poured over the marijuana plant, and it causes the THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) to leave the plant material and dissolve into the butane. This effectively extracts the THC. The butane-THC solution is then pressed through a filter to separate the desired substance from the solid matter and placed in a dish or tray. This creates a waxy residue known as BHO [2](“butane honey oil” or “butane hash oil”) which is then vaporized.

Types of Dabs

Different processes can result in different types of dabs with different textures, from oils and waxes to a hard brittle form called “shatter.”

Different types of dabs can influence the user experience in various ways. The most commonly used forms of dab marijuana are:

  • Shatter
  • Live Resin
  • Wax
  • Live Rosin
  • Budder
  • Oil

Side Effects of Smoking Dabs

The effects of dabs on the brain can be drastic. Cannabis affects the motor skills of the user, and because dabbing involves inhaling the drug in a highly concentrated form, it has more of an immediate impact on muscle coordination. This in turn has a negative effect on motor skills which includes slower reaction times and reduced cognitive functions (especially memory and decision-making). Those under the influence of dabbing also have weakened judgment, which leads to an increased likelihood of risk-taking. All of these factors combine to increase safety risks such as impaired driving, which creates a higher risk of a person being involved in an automobile accident.

Additional side effects of smoking dabs include bloodshot eyes, paranoia, and anxiety. 

While the effects of smoking dabs may seem similar to the effects of alcohol addiction, the effects of dabs on the brain are not the same. Side effects of smoking dabs can persist even after the person is no longer intoxicated. This is because THC can potentially remain in an individual’s fat cells for up to three months after using marijuana dab and can be detrimental to one’s cognition and memory. This is also the case with how long marijuana stays in your system after using it.

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Smoking Dabs and Overdose

Using dab weed excessively can potentially lead to a drug overdose.  

Symptoms of marijuana overdose include:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis


While the ramifications are extreme and need proper treatment, the good news is that dab overdose symptoms are not usually fatal, and patients can undergo successful rehabilitation. In general, when using any drug, it is important to remember that there is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk. Individuals should always err on the side of caution and not assume that the side effects of dab use are completely foreseeable.

Marijuana Dab Withdrawal

Like any drug addiction, when one goes off of marijuana dab they are likely to experience symptoms of addiction withdrawal. Below are some symptoms that one may face:

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depressed mood
  • ·Abdominal pain
  • Shakiness/tremors
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome is diagnosed if three or more of these symptoms develop within one week after quitting cannabis use abruptly. The intensity to which an individual will experience these withdrawal symptoms will depend on factors such as how long they have been dabbing, how frequently they use the substance, and how much they use each time. If an individual experiences severe withdrawal symptoms that result from an abrupt reduction or termination of long-term frequent cannabis use, they may need to undergo detox and rehabilitation in an inpatient setting. Low social functioning or co-occurring mental or somatic disorders might also necessitate a more monitored recovery process.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment at Avenues Recovery

Although recovery from addiction is challenging, it is an extremely rewarding process enabling a better future. If you or a loved one are seeking more information about dabs or are trying to give up dab use, contact us today. Our trained professionals will assess your individual situation and recommend the best steps moving forward. At Avenues Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment programs and extensive resources to help you on your journey to sobriety. You can live a life free from drugs or alcohol – take the first step today!

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[1] ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

[2] adf.org.a

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