This article originally appeared on VICE India.
COVID-19 has left us all in isolation, as we stay at home to limit the spread of the worst pandemic in over 100 years. It has also effectively ruined all the hype for a month-long 4/20, something that will also not happen again for 100 years.
While people are finding new and creative ways to spend their time, and while essential goods and services have been made available so we can continue living our lives behind closed doors, there are those who consider their vices to be essential too—owing not just to massive withdrawals and heavy dependence but also for recreational purposes or to alleviate the anxiety in these bizarre times. The Netherlands’ famed coffee shops, in fact, shut for a day, and then reopened again as people panicked over the idea of living without cannabis through the lockdown, and the government feared an increase in crime. Let’s face facts, though: Cannabis still isn’t legal in most parts of the world, and it’s very likely that if you’re a stoner living in lockdown, you will at some point run out of stock. What then must one do?
At the risk of being called a killjoy, we’re going to highly recommend something we’ve been recommended by veteran users: a 'tolerance break', which basically means not smoking for a few days to clear one’s head and body of cannabinoids, notably THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active agent in cannabis that gets one high). Not only will it help extend your stash, but T-Breaks also come with a whole bunch of added benefits that could work really well for us at this time. With the general fear surrounding this pandemic, there has been a rise in stress and anxiety levels amidst the masses, and it’s not unusual; of course we’re worried. This is, however, also a good time to remember to do things that work well for our mental health. While smoking a joint may temporarily achieve that purpose, the continued use of cannabis has been shown to limit/reduce the supply of dopamine in our brains.
This is where T-Breaks really help; a few days or a couple of weeks (if you can pull it off) without the company of Mary Jane may help bring your brain’s dopamine regulation somewhere back to normal, and keep your happy chemicals running smoothly even without a joint needed to achieve it. Research suggests that cannabinoid receptors begin to return to normal after a mere two days of abstinence from THC. The first few days are said to be a little tough—we’re not going to lie—but thankfully, cannabis has never shown exceptionally high rates of dependence and resulting withdrawals like some other substances, even alcohol. After the initial couple of days, your body should adapt to the sobriety pretty quickly, and you’ll start finding more time and focus in the things you plan to do. While there isn’t an “ideal” length for a T-Break, at least a duration of three days is essential to start getting your receptors back to normal. Obviously, the longer the break, the better the effects.
A stoner might prefer being stoned for their day’s highlights, from breakfast to a movie to even exercise, so much so that they might actually forget or ignore how well they can still do these things with a clear, sober state of mind. If you’re planning to get some home workouts in, a T-Break is going to help that immensely, and we guarantee you will still find The Office just as hilarious if you’re sober.
Along with dopamine, cannabis users also tend to get dependent on ganja for hunger and sleep cycles. The first few days of a break will see you have a smaller appetite than usual, and sleep eluding you for a bit. This is again why a regular T-Break once every few months is a really good idea, because it helps us bring our body’s natural patterns back without having to rely on an external agent. REM sleep is also a beautiful and important part of everyday life, and continued cannabis usage can tend to decrease that significantly. T-Breaks bring back your REM sleep in a big way, and the experience of vivid dreaming is amazing, to say the least. From personal experience of some users we spoke to, stoners have also claimed that breaks have helped them spend more time with their families and, in some cases, develop better relations with them, especially during this lockdown, as they tend to be more chatty and open to conversing about things they usually wouldn’t when they’re high. We get that. Having to talk about and do the chores and duties at home when you’re blazed can seem like a drag, but sobriety can keep you surprisingly peppy, upbeat and enthusiastic about such mundane but necessary chores.
Finally, the best part about a T-Break: hitting a joint after so many days apart! It feels almost like getting stoned for the first time all over again. Your general pace tends to reduce through the course of the J, you can feel the weight of your eyelids, and you realise how pedestrian this feeling had become. The joy of being rocked like a hurricane after so long is a pleasure many forget is possible to achieve with just a little restraint now and then. So here’s our advice: Take a break. Save what you have at the moment and go on a T-Break, and no matter that we can’t all celebrate the month-long 4/20. Give yourself a breather, and maybe hold on to your supplies for the 20th. Sobriety can be amazing.
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