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What is a Tolerance Break? How to Reset & Refresh

Body and Mind
Body and Mind October 13, 2022

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? It’s a philosophical question we’ve all heard before, but if you’ve been using cannabis frequently for a while, you may have noticed it doesn’t quite work the same as it used to. As the days go by, you need more and more to take you where you want to go. This happens because your body builds a tolerance to THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. If you want to get back to baseline, a Tolerance Break (T-Break) will reset and refresh your body, help reduce those cannabis cravings, and make you feel all shiny and new again. But what is a tolerance break — really?

What Is Cannabis Tolerance?

First and foremost, let’s talk about cannabis tolerance. Tolerance to cannabis is different from physical dependence. If you’re physically dependent on a substance, you need it to feel normal and not experience withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance, on the other hand, refers to how much of a psychoactive drug someone can take before they no longer feel its effects — or they need more of the drug to feel the same impact. So, if you find that you need more and more cannabis to get where you want to be, or what used to take one puff now requires three, it’s time for a tolerance break.

Tolerance to cannabis is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon. The science meets at the intersection of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoid and terpene profile and the different endocannabinoid systems of every consumer. The truth is that we still don’t have anything approaching a comprehensive understanding of tolerance. However, a 2007 study of chronic cannabis users published in Neuroscience found a decrease in the number of THC receptors in the brains of chronic cannabis users.

How does chronic cannabis use affect the endocannabinoid system?

Humans have a natural system that interacts with cannabis — the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Dynamic and responsive, frequent use may cause the body’s ECS to compensate with decreased sensitivity to cannabinoids. Consequently, more THC is required to compensate for ECS’s decreased sensitivity, resulting in the high tolerance described earlier.

How long does it take to develop a high tolerance for cannabis?

The short answer is that we don’t really know. As with most cannabis research, the data is still inconclusive. What we do know is that numerous variables impact it:

  • Frequency of cannabis use;
  • Strength of THC dosage;
  • Method of consumption;
  • The genetics of the user;

Despite the lack of definitive science, we have one universal standard that works for everyone: If you need to increase your frequency or dosage of cannabis to achieve the desired effect, you’ve built a tolerance.

What Is a Cannabis Tolerance Break? 

A tolerance break is what it sounds like: a period where you take a break from consuming cannabis. This can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, or even a month or more. The key is to take enough time for your body to reset its tolerance levels. For some people, that might be a week, while for others, it could be a month or more.

There are different ways to approach a tolerance break. Some people stop consuming all cannabis products, while others only take a break from smoking or vaping. If you consume cannabis regularly, you might also want to consider temporarily switching to a different method of consumption or switching up your consumption patterns. For example, if you typically smoke or vape throughout the day, you might want to try taking edibles only at night.

Cannabis tolerance builds quickly. Taking regular breaks from cannabis can help prevent tolerance build-up and keep your body sensitive to the cannabinoids in cannabis products.

If you’re a chronic cannabis user, taking a tolerance break can be an excellent opportunity to reset your body’s natural sensitivity to THC. This can help reduce your risk of developing cannabis use disorder or experiencing other negative side effects from consuming too much THC.

Why Do People Take T-Breaks?

People take T-Breaks for all kinds of reasons. Some people do it to reset their tolerance, while others use it as an opportunity to save money or take a break altogether. Whatever your reason for taking a T-Break, the key is, to be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it. This can help you stay motivated and on track, especially if the process is difficult.

However, there are a few key reasons why people might take a tolerance break:

Decrease the Risks of Chronic Cannabis Overuse

In the endocannabinoid system, THC activates CB1, the brain’s reward pathway. This causes a dopamine hit of feel-good, making many people want to use cannabis again. While there’s nothing wrong with a little of this feeling, too much can be addictive and increase the risk of developing:

A tolerance break mitigates the risk of developing either condition by disrupting any possible dependence on THC.

Reset the Endocannabinoid System

A T-break allows the endocannabinoid system to return to normal. This helps the user maintain a consistent regimen. It’s also possible that it will heighten effects when you resume consumption. This means more euphoria…for less money spent…and less herb consumed! That’s some feel-good economics.

Save Money

Cannabis isn’t cheap, and the costs can add up if you’re using it every day. If you’re on a budget or just want to save money, taking tolerance breaks can be great. You can use the money you would have spent on cannabis to pay bills, buy groceries, or just save it for a rainy day.

So now you know the What and Why of T-Breaks, but where the rubber really meets the road is on the How. 

How Do You Take a Cannabis Tolerance Break? 

First, it’s essential to understand that there is no “right” way to take a tolerance break. Some people swear by complete cannabis abstinence, while others find that reducing their consumption is enough. The key is to find what works for you and stick with it.

When you consider your tolerance break strategy, there are a few variables about your herbal consumption to consider:

  • How do you consume?
  • How much do you use?
  • How frequently do you consume?

The cold turkey solution means immediate adjustment of all three variables to zero. But a more nuanced approach that many find effective is to adjust one or two of these variables. Think of them like dials. Adjust them accordingly, and you can still reboot your ECS without the cold sandwich meat.

Set a Goal

Before starting your tolerance break, setting a goal is important. This will help you stay on track and motivated, especially if the process is difficult. A few examples of possible goals include:

  • Quitting for a specified time
  • Reducing your consumption by a certain amount
  • Only consuming on certain days of the week

Identify Your Triggers

Various things can trigger cravings, so it’s essential to know what sets them off.

Common triggers include:

  • Certain people
  • Places
  • Activities
  • Times of day
  • Emotions

If you know what your triggers are, you can avoid them or have a plan to deal with them when they come up.

Create a Support System

Quitting anything is difficult, especially if you’re used to doing it daily. So it’s crucial to create a support system of friends, family, and/or professionals who can help you through the process. This could include:

  • Joining a support group
  • Talking to a therapist
  • Asking friends and family for help

There is no shame in seeking help when trying to make a change, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

Prepare for Setbacks

Setbacks are normal, so it’s best to be prepared for them. If you have a slip-up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get back on track and continue working towards your goal.

Types of Tolerance Breaks

Now that you know the basics let’s look at the different types of breaks you can take.

Complete Abstinence

As the name suggests, this break involves completely abstaining from cannabis. This means no smoking, vaping, eating, or using any cannabis products. If you’re used to using every day, this can be difficult. But it can be very effective in resetting your tolerance.

Reduced Consumption

If complete abstinence is not realistic or desirable, you can try reducing your consumption. This could involve smoking or vaping less, taking smaller doses, or only consuming cannabis on certain days of the week.


If you’ve followed the emerging science on psychedelics, you’ve heard the term. But did you know that you can microdose cannabis? Just cut your dosage to 5MG or less. Lean into it. Really feel it. Breathe. Give it some time, and this might become your new happy place.

Intermittent Fasting

Known as an effective diet strategy, the intermittent fast also works well for cannabis tolerance breaks if you’re someone who consumes cannabis regularly. Simply limit the hours you use cannabis to a 4-6 hour window, and don’t compensate for fasting hours by using more.

Go Smokeless

Put that lighter away and limit your usage to topicals and edibles. A nice thing about edibles is that they are dose specific, a great aid in microdosing. They also give your lungs a rest.

CBD and/or Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids

If you want to set the THC down but still benefit from medicinal cannabis, countless tinctures and tablets are available to meet this need.

Go Tobacco Free

A lot of smokers love using tobacco-based wraps to elevate the standard joint. But tobacco leaves contain nicotine, and nicotine also triggers a dopamine hit. So dropping the tobacco and focusing on clean, smoke-free cannabis in small doses may also qualify as the tolerance break that hits your reset button. 

Cannabis Substitutes

Another option is to replace cannabis with another activity. This could involve exercise, meditation, time in nature, or anything else that relaxes and rejuvenates you. Again, the key is to find something that works for you and helps to reduce your cravings.

Beyond the method, there is the question of duration.

How Long Does A Tolerance Break Need To Be?

There is no one size fits all answer. It may be as short as 48 hours. But for a heavy, chronic user, it may take as long as a month. The important thing is to start slow and increase the length of your break as needed.

What are the Risks of T-Breaks?

An old adage goes like this: “No risk, no reward.” Taking a tolerance break is no different. There are risks, but many feel the rewards are worth it:

  1. Withdrawal: Heavy users or those who consume high THC doses may experience withdrawal symptoms during a break. Some symptoms include depression, insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, and irritability. But remember, cannabis is not physically addictive like narcotics, alcohol, or nicotine. The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are typically mild by comparison.
  2. Symptoms under treatment may return: If you’re a medical patient, a break may cause symptoms to return. An alternate medication or therapy may assist the transition, but we always recommend you consult your physician before changing any medications. 

The risks are real, but the rewards make a tolerance break worth taking for many.

What Are Some Tips for T-Breaks? 

Changing behavior is one of the most challenging tasks for any human. So try the following tips to make that T-Break a piece of cake:

  • Set Goal Dates: Human beings have been goal oriented since the beginning of time. Modern psychology supports this by confirming that setting goals helps motivate new habits, increases focus and sustains motivation. So mark your calendar with your start date, and stop date to achieve your goal.
  • Out Of Sight/Out Of Mind: You make it harder for yourself if you keep a stash of your favorite strains on hand and leave all your smoking accessories in plain sight. Clear out tempting goodies, clean up your tools and put them away, open your windows, and freshen the place up. You last want to see, or smell is herb when you’re taking a break. Keep it out of sight to keep it out of mind.
  • Move Your Body: You can replace that dopamine hit you get from THC with exercise. Walk, jog, or pick up a sport. The bottom line is that moving your body will help your body and mind.

With these tips and determination, you can successfully take a tolerance break and return refreshed, reset, and ready to enjoy your favorite plant again!


How long should a tolerance break last?

It depends on the frequency of use, the strength of the products used, and the characteristics of the user. Tolerance breaks may range from 48 hours to 30 days.

How often should you take a tolerance break?

Again, this depends on the user. The best answer is that if you require more to achieve the same effect, it may be time.

Does everyone have to take a tolerance break?

No. And in the case of medical patients taking cannabis as a treatment, a break might not be a good idea. 

Is it bad to build a tolerance to cannabis?

Not necessarily. In a medical context, many treatments require a high dose to be effective. But high doses may cause anxiety or impairment. By building a tolerance, the patient benefits from cannabis treatment without anxiety, impairment, or other unwanted side effects.

Reset & Refresh Your Tolerance with Body and Mind

At Body and Mind, we take our time off just as seriously as our work. Our company culture is one of balance, so we understand the importance of a tolerance break. Whether you’re a patient or an adult-use customer, if you feel like you need a break, we’re here to support you.

Our stores offer a variety of low-dose THC and CBD-rich products that can ease you into your tolerance break, and our knowledgeable staff can answer any questions you may have about taking a break from cannabis. View our magical menu, or drop in today. We’re here to help you stay balanced, healthy, and happy.

Body and Mind
Body and Mind October 13, 2022

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