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What is Dabbing? Why is it Dangerous?

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a way of smoking a very concentrated form of marijuana. Dabbing involves smoking an extract of marijuana that comes in wax, oil, or “crumble” in order to get a very potent and strong effect. Wax, oil, and “crumble” are all types of marijuana extract that contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC— the active ingredient that creates a marijuana high.

Forms of Cannabis

Dabbing involves using marijuana extract in many different forms, including: wax, oil, crumble, shatter, honey, etc. The marijuana extract used for dabbing has a THC concentration of up to 80%, while regular marijuana (in plant form) has about 20%.

How is Dabbing Done?

Dabbing is when concentrated marijuana extract is smoked, which can happen in a couple of ways. Usually, dabbing refers to using a dab “rig” or a glass bong which is specifically designed for smoking marijuana concentrate. This glass bong features a metal or quartz “nail”— the part that is heated up using a special torch. Once the “nail” is heated, the user places the concentrate on the hot nail using a metal or quartz stick-like tool, and begins inhaling the smoke created through the mouthpiece of the bong. An easier way to “dab” is by placing the marijuana concentrate inside of a vaporizer pen, specifically made for this purpose. These vaporizer pens create heat at the press of a button, to release the smoke from the concentrate as the user inhales through the pen’s mouthpiece. Other ways of dabbing exist, and can usually be found at various smoke shops around the country.

The Danger of Dabbing

Dabbing can be dangerous for a few reasons. The first reason is the unregulated production of marijuana concentrate. Many times, people will make the concentrate at home using harsh substances like butane (lighter fluid). Next, because marijuana extract is fairly new, its effects are unknown and it could pose some health risks. Because the marijuana extract used for dabbing is so potent, it can create a borderline hallucinatory experience that lasts for hours. Dabbing is a very strong, concentrated hit of marijuana that is so strong it can cause you to pass out after inhaling all of the smoke.
Even in states where marijuana is legalized, marijuana extract has little regulatory guidelines for its labeling and creation. Because of this, dabbing can be dangerous. Side effects of dabbing can include: a rapid heart rate, psychosis, black outs, hallucinations, and paranoia. Dabbing produces a very intense high, and this intense high can last for hours on end.

Long Term Effects

Because dabbing is fairly new, we are unable to identify its long term effects. Many are concerned that continuous dabbing may cause lung cancer. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) does not have any scientific information about the effects of dabbing, although SAMHSA published a study that focused on “dabbing” videos posted to YouTube. These videos of users “dabbing” have become very popular, and unfortunately these videos promote smoking this potent form of marijuana. Only 21% of the videos featured a warning message, and none of the videos posted had an age restriction feature. Normalizing dabbing is dangerous because the effects are so strong and the traditional method of dabbing (using a dab rig and torch) is dangerous.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Substance abuse and mental health go hand-in-hand. This is why most times, using a substance will intensify any mental health disorder symptoms. For this reason among others, dabbing can be dangerous for anyone who already suffers with mental health issues. Upon arrival to our facilities, guests will be assessed and evaluated for any co-occuring disorders. Any alcohol or drug abuse should be treated with comprehensive addiction treatment programs.


Addiction recovery is about learning a new way of life, learning to live free from the constraints of drugs or alcohol. Substance use disorders will drastically impact your life, which is why you need addiction treatment that will focus on the health of your mind, body, and spirit. Royal Life Centers uses intensive therapies to treat addiction. Our guests enjoy individual therapy sessions, behavioral therapies, group therapies, adventure therapy, activity therapy, and equine therapy.

Our Treatment

Royal Life Centers works around a holistic modality, treating the mind, body, and spirit for a full recovery. Royal Life Centers provides treatment options at all levels of care, and with lengths of stay that are both short term and long term. Our focus is on our guests. We encourage guests to break old habits and replace them with new, healthy habits. We provide group therapy topics like anger management, grief and loss, emotional regulation, and how to prevent a relapse. We also offer services and resources for our guest’s family members. Because We Care.
Royal Life Centers provides addiction treatment programs that guide our guests through the recovery process. Our treatment programs include: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. Upon arrival, guests will be paired with both a primary therapist and a case manager to assist them through out their stay. Guests also collaborate with their case manager and therapist to design a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to meet their personal needs and goals.

Reach Out

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to cannabis concentrates, or another substance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team is available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.
Krauss, Melissa J., et al. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Vol. 155, Elsevier, 2015, pp. 45-51. Displays of Dabbing Marijuana Extracts on YouTube, doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.08.020.
Maslin Nir, Sarah. “Chasing Bigger High, Marijuana Users Turn to ‘Dabbing’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/nyregion/chasing-bigger-high-marijuana-users-turn-to-dabbing.html?_r=1.

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