Your Guide to a Tolerance Break: Benefits and More

At least 12% of US adults use marijuana. Tolerance develops over time, and if you are a cannabis user, you’ve likely heard the term before. 

What is tolerance, and how does it impact you? How do you take a break from it?

You need to keep yourself well if you’re using THC products, so understanding how to be healthier (and increase your “high”) is important. 

If you want to learn more about tolerance, how to take a tolerance break, and what you can expect, keep reading below to find out everything you need to know.

What Is Tolerance?

Many people will experience tolerance to the substance they use at some point if they use it often enough. It happens to someone when their body is exposed to a substance regularly.

If you have developed a tolerance, it means that the substance doesn’t impact you the same way that it did before.

The dose you’re used to using doesn’t work very effectively, and you feel less of its effects. Basically, your body and brain are so used to the substance that they hardly notice it is there anymore. 

If this happens, you have a few options. You can either increase your usage and risk dealing with those side effects, or you can take a tolerance break. We will discuss what a tolerance break is later, but knowing how tolerance works can help you understand why a break is essential. 

How Does Tolerance Happen in the Brain?

You have CB1R (cannabinoid type 1 receptors) throughout your body. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system.

The CB1Rs are found on the outside of cells that control bodily processes. When they bind with a cannabinoid (like THC), the receptors trigger a sequence of cellular signaling. This signaling regulates your body’s reaction to this change in its environment.

The receptors adjust according to what is happening simultaneously, which is called “downregulation.” These receptors are specific proteins that your cell’s DNA produces. 

A certain part of the cell genome in your body has exact instructions for making specific proteins (like the CB1 receptors). The problem is that your cell’s DNA doesn’t make these proteins in the same amounts. 

Throughout the cell genome, some sections turn on and off depending on the ligand that is detected in the environment.

Your cell’s nucleus can up or down the concentration of receptors that respond to ligands based on how much it detects. This is where “upregulation” or “downregulation” comes from.

These processes will differ depending on the type of receptors or ligands involved, but with CB1 receptors specifically, this has been thoroughly studied and observed in users. 

Because our bodies have a natural process for endogenous cannabinoids, we always have at least some CB1 receptors on our cells.

Effects of Using THC or CBD on your CB1 Receptors

If a cell finds a bigger concentration of a cannabinoid than naturally in your body, a new reaction starts. The DNA within the cell “downregulates” the amount of CB1R that is stuck on the cell’s surface, meaning it decreases how many receptors are available to bind with the THC. 

Whether you use cannabis once in a blue moon or every day, you will have fewer CB1 receptors than someone that has never used cannabis. The decrease in receptors means fewer places within your cells for the THC to “get in” and cause the effects you know and love.

Once you’ve tried it, your body knows that it has been exposed to more cannabinoids than it finds naturally within the body. Then, it produces fewer receptors as a result.

Your body does this to adapt to a changing environment and keep your body healthy. 

What Can You Develop a Tolerance For?

People can develop a tolerance for a lot of different things. Any substance or medication that impacts your body in any way can cause a tolerance if it is used on a regular, consistent basis.

If you’re prescribed a medication, you can become tolerant of it over time. You may need to ask the doctor for a higher dose if this is the case.

When you’re a marijuana user, you can develop a tolerance to the effects of the substance. If you drink alcohol, you can develop a tolerance to that as well.

Tolerance can be built to substances that impact physical or mental health. Essentially, anything that you put into your body that alters anything can fall into this category even for a short period of time. 

Categories of Tolerance

There are two main categories of tolerance: functional and metabolic. One focuses on the brain, and the other focuses on the body.

Functional Tolerance

This tolerance occurs when the brain adapts to the changes caused by the substance. It may be adapting to changes in behavior or changes in your bodily function. Your brain becomes used to how the substance affects you, so it gets easier to do your usual functions when under the influence.

Basically, you can function as you would if you weren’t using any substances if you’ve developed this type of tolerance. 

With THC, some users develop a functional tolerance to some of the negative effects of marijuana. You may not even know it’s happened to you. These could be things that beginner users experience, like dizziness or paranoia.

Metabolic Tolerance

Metabolic tolerance is when your body adapts to an increase in a substance. The body changes its ability to break down and metabolize the substance for maximum efficiency. 

While this is more prevalent for other substances, especially alcohol, THC users can experience this type of tolerance. If you use THC edibles or topical creams, your body has to process everything in those products.

Your body breaks down the cannabinoids, but it also has to break down the other parts of the food or cream. Over time, this process is improved to go faster because your body gets used to doing it.

What Is a Tolerance Break?

A tolerance break is something that THC users often reference when they want to take a break from using the substance.

Anyone that uses marijuana typically does so because they like the way that THC makes them feel. It can make them feel calm, relaxed, euphoric, or even help them cope with a medical condition. Over time, as the body builds a THC tolerance, the effects that they enjoyed will be less obvious.

It may eventually get to the point where you can hardly feel anything while using the same dose. When this happens, it’s no longer enjoyable because you aren’t getting the benefits of using the THC you had experienced before.

When this happens, people may become depressed or get frustrated with the change. Some people rely on marijuana, to an extent, to feel good about themselves or relieve stress in their daily lives.

Taking a tolerance break, also referred to as a “T-break,” helps partially reset some of those CB1 receptors we spoke of earlier.

Although they will never be as they were before you used THC, they can be impacted by a temporary pause in use. In turn, this will help you feel the same “high” that you did before. 

Benefits of a Tolerance Break

The biggest benefit of a tolerance break is that you will be able to enjoy the effects of the THC as you did before. This is usually the main reason that a person would do it.

Taking a break for your general health, however, is never a bad idea. 

THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward zone, so you get neurological responses that make you want to use it more. While it isn’t necessarily bad to use THC to feel good and give your brain those “rewards,” anything that falls into this area can be abused. 

Consuming too much THC puts you at high risk for developing cannabis use disorder or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Taking a tolerance break helps to reduce this risk by disrupting your body’s current, regular reaction to consuming THC. 

You also might experience more vivid dreams when you take a tolerance break. THC reduces the amount of REM sleep you get, which directly impacts your ability to dream. 

Another benefit might be that you could save a little bit of money. If you find that you have to use more THC products to feel the same high due to tolerance, this can become expensive very quickly. 

How to Take a Tolerance Break

To take a tolerance break, the only thing you need to do is stop using THC. You’re going to cut it out of your life, completely “cold turkey.” 

A good tolerance break length should be about 21 days if you use THC products every day. Using a simple guide could be a helpful way to keep yourself on track.

The length of your break is going to depend on how often you’re using cannabis. If you don’t use it daily, you don’t have to take as long a break. Consider your usage habits and determine what the right length would be for you.

Are you a Delta-8-THC user? You can review this article to learn more about taking a tolerance break from Delta-8 specifically. Since this THC type is slightly different, you may want some extra knowledge on the subject before you get started.

Remember that if you’ve never taken a T-break before, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. THC impacts your whole body, so your body will crave it if it’s used to you using every day. Anticipating this before you begin is going to increase your chances of accomplishing the task. 

Tips to Make Your Tolerance Break a Success

The first thing to consider is that this may be a difficult task for you. It’s easy to say, “I can stop whenever I want,” but it’s not always that easy. If you fail the first time you try, try it again, and eventually, you’ll reap the benefits of the T-break.

You may also want to think about telling your friends that you’re taking a break from THC. Ask them to support you in your break and not peer pressure you into smoking or use them as a social group.

The next thing to think about is what else you will do with your time. You need to occupy your mind with something else.

This is a great time to try a new hobby or explore something that you’ve gotten before and haven’t been able to do yet.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to get rid of or move all of your cannabis products while you’re taking your tolerance break. You’re going to make it harder on yourself by leaving these things lying around because when you see them, you’ll want to use them.  

Know When to Take a Break

Understanding how THC affects your body and what it does, even at the cellular level, will make you a more responsible cannabis user. Not only that, but knowledge is power – now you know why your cannabis isn’t hitting like it used to!

It may be time for you to take a tolerance break for your health. Remember that there are several benefits you can get from doing it, so it’s worth the effort. 

Do you want to check out more content that will help you lead a healthy, happy life? If so, take a look at some of our articles in the Lifestyle section to learn more.