Substance Use

What is Dabbing? Cannabis Dabs Explained

cannabis resin dabs in jar

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As the world of cannabis continues to evolve, so too does the way we consume it. Long gone are the days when the only way to enjoy this plant was by smoking it. Now, there are countless different ways to consume cannabis, and one of the most popular methods is dabbing.

Dabbing cannabis, a method of consuming highly concentrated marijuana extracts, has gained significant traction within the cannabis community in recent years. This alternative form of cannabis consumption involves the vaporization of potent extracts, offering users a fast-acting and intense experience. As the popularity of dabbing continues to grow, so does the curiosity surrounding its techniques, benefits, and potential risks.

Here, we’ll look at what you need to know about dabbing and cannabis dabs. We’ll delve into the psychological effects, risks, potential for overdose, and withdrawal symptoms associated with this form of cannabis consumption.

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What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a method of consuming cannabis that involves heating a small amount of cannabis concentrate (known as a ‘dab’) on a hot surface and then inhaling the vapor. It’s a bit like using a vaporizer, but instead of using dry herb, you’re using a concentrated form of cannabis.

Dabs can come in various forms, such as:

  • Wax
  • Shatter
  • Crumble
  • Oil, depending on the extraction method used

What are Cannabis Dabs Made of?

One of the primary active compounds in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for its psychoactive effects. There are also other compounds in dabs, like CBD (cannabidiol), terpenes, and other cannabinoids. These are all concentrated in dabs, creating a product that is much more potent than dried cannabis flowers.

The process of making dabs involves using a solvent to extract the active compounds from the cannabis plant. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind the concentrated cannabis product. It’s important to note that this process can be dangerous if not done correctly, so do not try to make dabs at home.

Difference Between Concentrates, Extracts, and Dabs

When diving into the world of dabbing, you’re likely to come across various terms, such as concentrates, extracts, and dabs. 

While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between them.


Concentrates is a broad term that refers to any product derived from the cannabis plant that has been processed to increase its potency. This includes a wide range of products, from tinctures and edibles to dabs and vape cartridges.


Extracts, on the other hand, are a type of concentrate that is made using a specific extraction process. This process typically involves using a solvent to separate the active compounds from the rest of the plant material. The end result is a highly potent product that is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.


Dabs are a specific type of cannabis extract that is designed to be consumed using a dab rig. They are usually solid or semi-solid in nature and come in various forms, such as shatter, wax, or crumble. 

While all dabs are extracts, not all extracts are dabs. For example, a cannabis tincture is an extract, but it’s not a dab because it’s not meant to be consumed in that way.

Reasons for Dabbing

There are several reasons dabbing is a popular choice among cannabis users. One of the main reasons is potency. Because dabs are a concentrated form of cannabis, they contain a higher level of cannabinoids and terpenes compared to traditional cannabis flowers.

This means that you can achieve the desired effects with a smaller amount of product.

Another benefit of dabbing is the fast onset of effects. When you inhale the vapor from a dab, the active compounds are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream through your lungs. You can feel the effects almost instantly, which can be an advantage for people using cannabis for pain relief or other medical purposes.

Finally, many people enjoy dabbing because it allows them to experience the flavors and aromas of cannabis more intensely and directly. Because dabs are so concentrated, they often have a stronger and more noticeable flavor profile compared to other forms of cannabis.

Psychological Effects and Risks of Dabbing

Dabbing is a method of consuming cannabis concentrates, often resulting in a more potent and immediate high compared to traditional smoking. 

As with any substance, it’s essential to understand the psychological effects tied to its use.

The Highs

The immediate and intense high resulting from dabbing is due to the high concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. THC produces heightened euphoria, creativity, and a sense of well-being

The intensity of these effects can vary greatly depending on the individual and the amount consumed.

The Lows

On the flip side, the high potency of dabs can also lead to negative psychological effects. Users may experience paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks, particularly if they are new to dabbing or consume a larger dose than their tolerance allows. 

It’s also worth noting that the long-term effects of dabbing on mental health are still being researched and are not fully understood.

The Risks

Beyond the immediate psychological effects, there are potential risks to consider. The potent nature of dabs can lead to a higher tolerance and dependence on cannabis. 

The process of creating dabs involves highly flammable solvents. So it is a significant safety risk to attempt to make dabs at home.

Can You Overdose on Cannabis Dabs?

In the context of cannabis and dabs, an overdose refers to consuming an amount that leads to uncomfortable or harmful symptoms. These may include extreme paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, and physical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Due to the high potency of cannabis dabs, the risk of experiencing these symptoms is significantly higher than with other forms of cannabis consumption. Especially for inexperienced or infrequent users, the intense effects can be overwhelming and potentially dangerous.

If you or someone else experiences an overdose, it’s crucial to stay calm, hydrate, and seek medical help if symptoms persist or worsen.

Cannabis Dabs Abuse and Withdrawal

Cannabis dabs abuse can manifest in various ways, including using the substance to cope with daily life, neglecting responsibilities, and continued use despite negative consequences. 

A high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms can indicate a problem with dabs abuse.

Symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Physical discomfort

It’s important to note that while these symptoms can be difficult, they are typically not life-threatening.

Treatment for Dabbing Addiction

Recognizing a problem with cannabis dabs is the first step toward recovery. There are various treatment options available, tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances.


The first step in treatment often involves detoxification. This is the process of eliminating the substance from the body, which can result in withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision during this period can help manage these symptoms and ensure safety.

Therapy and Counseling

Following detoxification, therapy and counseling play a crucial role in treatment. This can involve individual therapy, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and more. 

These approaches can help address the underlying issues contributing to the addiction and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Aftercare and Support

Lastly, continued aftercare and support are essential for maintaining recovery. This can include ongoing therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes to support a substance-free life.

Seeking Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with dabs abuse, it’s crucial to seek help. Numerous resources and treatment options are available, and recovery is entirely possible. Contact Zinnia Health 24/7 at (855) 430-9439.


Dabbing is a powerful method of consuming cannabis that can have profound psychological effects. The high potency of dabs produces immediate highs and strong lows. It also produces significant health risks, many of which we still don’t fully understand.

It’s crucial to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis dabs abuse. Remember, recovery is a journey, and it’s never too late to start.

Author: Giselle Leung, PharmD, BCGP. Giselle is a practicing pharmacist with over 9 years of experience in the community and long-term care pharmacy settings; and a freelance medical writer. She earned her PharmD from the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy in 2014. She is a Board-Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP), who focuses on the complex medication needs of older adults.


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