The Danger of Dabbing

What is Dabbing and Why Is It Dangerous?

With the surge of legalization and widespread availability, cannabis use is on the rise in the U.S. and as marijuana’s popularity increases, so do that of new cannabis products and methods of intake. One of these varieties is called “dabs.”

Dabbing is the inhalation of concentrated cannabis extracts containing high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with a vaporization rig similar to a bong, with THC concentrations much stronger than traditional marijuana.

Due to the potency of dabs, this method of getting high can be particularly risky for those vulnerable to substance use disorder, leading to a quicker dependence and more intense withdrawal symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve cannabis for chronic pain treatment and dabbing’s potential for physical dependence adds another layer of concern. While more research is needed to accurately assess dabbing effects, it’s important to educate yourself on the potential dangers of dabbing and seek help if needed.


Personal Oxygen Safety

Oxygen is an accelerant. This means that it is like gasoline, causing things to burn hotter and faster than without it. Smoking is by far the leading factor in thermal burns involving home medical oxygen. Fires burn hotter and faster in oxygen-enriched atmospheres, and items in such environments ignite at lower temperatures, like cigarettes.

No Smoking/Vaping/E-Cigarette/Dabbing is allowed while you are on the VA Home Oxygen program. Do not smoke/vape/dab inside the home when your oxygen is in use (tanks, liquid, or concentrator). Practice the 25 x 10 rule:

  • Turn off your oxygen
  • Move 25 feet or more away from oxygen tanks and equipment
  • Going outside the home is best
  • Wait 10 minutes before lighting any smoking materials

Patients may call their local VA Medical Center about smoking cessation programs, medications, patches, or gums.


As an Oxygen patient, you should always practice caution and be aware of potential fire hazards in your home:

  • Tell visitors, “Oxygen is in use”
  • Post “no smoking” signs to remind others not to smoke
  • Never smoke in a home or locations where oxygen is used
  • Help Police & Fire identify you and your home are someone needing additional assistance in an emergency. Check with local authorities to see if they have a list
  • Make your home a priority for evacuation assistance
  • Remember to keep oxygen away from heat sources, open flame(s), heat producing products, heating elements, heat vapors, and sparking items

Never use oxygen while on or near an open flame, heat source, sparking item or heat producing item. These include but are not limited to:

  • Cigarette, pipe, cigar, E-cig/vaping pen, dabbing, or other smoking materials or systems
  • Candles, matches or lighters
  • Sparking toys or tools
  • Flame or heater coil, water heater or furnace
  • Fireplace/gas or electric heater
  • Household appliances and items with a heating element, produces heat vapors, or open flames. It is that heat and heat vapors produced which is the hazard, even if the unit itself is not hot to the touch.

Identifying some of the dangers of Dabbing

Health Concerns: The increased high that users get from dabbing can cause temporary psychosis, memory loss, increased heart rate, anxiety, and even hallucinations. Although this high is the result of the same chemical in regular marijuana, the intense effects of dabbing can put individuals at a greater risk for trying other substances that produce like-effects.

Using: Typically, dabs are smoked using a glass water pipe – similar to a bong – where a metal coil is heated until the wax (dab) is melted and inhaled through the pipe. Although there is no federal research providing exact evidence on the harm of using dabs, many addiction specialists note that it is a danger to use dabbing equipment while also experiencing impairment due to the high potency levels.

Production: The most dangerous aspect of dabbing is its production, where butane gas heats the substance and extracts THC to transfer it into oil form. There is a risk of an explosion during this process and many houses have burnt to the ground as a result of dab production.

Dabs are NOT harmless

While marijuana is certainly not one of the most addictive drugs, dabs are far from harmless. Being stronger than smoking marijuana buds, it’s much easier to become dependent on dabs, causing more serious drug side effects such as anxiety and paranoia. And due to its high THC content, dabbing can also lead to increased tolerance, meaning that dab users need to spend a lot more money than people who smoke normally.

Making dab concentrates requires the use of butane, a highly flammable liquid, and because of this volatility the home-manufacturing process is much more dangerous. It’s not an exaggeration to say that trying to make dabs at home is just as dangerous as making methamphetamine.

Regular dab users can find themselves having cognitive impairment, paranoia and psychosis, chronic coughing, or feeling depressed and lethargic if they try to stop. If any of these symptoms have happened to you, you should seek immediate treatment. Help is available.

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Treatment for Dabbing Abuse and Addiction

If you have a problem with dabs or any other kind of addiction, it is important to look for programs that address your specific needs. Treatment is an investment in your future, so start by asking a few questions:

  • How long have you been addicted to dab weed?
  • Do you have medical or mental health concerns?
  • Does your insurance cover addiction treatment?
  • Do you need detox?
  • Are you interested in a program that serves a specific population (teens, elderly, faith-based, LGBT, etc.)?
  • Do you have other treatment needs, such as job skills training, family or couples therapy, the ability to complete schoolwork in treatment, etc.?
  • Do you want to stay close to home for treatment, or would you rather put some distance between your treatment and your current environment?
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