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A key component of a healthy relationship with alcohol is to experience its positive effects by drinking the least amount possible. Alcohol takes time to enter your bloodstream, so pacing your drinks is very important. By giving your body time and paying attention to how you're feeling can help you understand how intoxicated you are.
Unlike alcohol, there is currently no definitive amount of cannabis that defines a standard dose. This means there is no quantifiable low to high-risk amounts on which to base recommendations. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has recently established 5 milligrams of delta-9-THC (the primary psychoactive component and what causes the effects that people most associate with getting “high”) as a standard unit of measurement for which researchers will base studies off. This offers some confidence that we will be able to provide similar guidance for cannabis as we do with alcohol in the near future.
Not all cannabis is created equal. Different strains of cannabis have THC concentrations that vary widely so when a person smokes cannabis (flower), one puff, drag, or hit is not equal to the next. The same is true of THC concentrates, which also vary widely and often start at much more potent levels. Edible products also come in different levels of THC and therefore each has different serving sizes. All of this complicates the ability to know and exact "dose" from one product to the next.
Because cannabis can be consumed in multiple ways, and the route of administration can significantly affect the way in which the body metabolizes and synthesizes the compounds in the plant, it can cause experiences to vary widely from the type of cannabis and from person to person. With that in mind, here we explore all the factors to be mindful of when choosing to consume cannabis and what to look out for as signs that a person has consumed too much.
When smoked, vaped, or dabbed THC enters the bloodstream almost instantly and the effects are felt within minutes. When people make claims that cannabis is not harmful they are typically referring to when people are smoking flower as it can be hard to ingest significant enough levels of THC this way to pose a serious risk from the drug alone. However, higher THC concentrations found in strains produced today can be harmful when consumed in large quantities. Subsequently, THC concentrates, sometimes containing as much as 80% THC or more, pose an increased risk when smoked/vaped/dabbed because it only takes a small amount of a concentrate to equal or surpass the amount of THC that would be contained in a full joint or bowl of flower.
When THC is consumed by eating or drinking an infused product (edibles) the body processes the THC more slowly and differently. When THC is processed through the GI tract and liver, the body converts delta-9-THC into the more potent 11-Hydroxy-THC. This can result in far more intense highs and adverse health effects.
It is extremely important to understand that the effects of THC can last far longer than you may expect or want them to. Below are some general guidelines from Drugs and Me, but know that this can vary by person and by how much THC you have ingested.
Regardless of cannabis being legalized recreationally and medicinally in other states, North Carolina law and Duke Policy prohibits members of its community, both individuals and student groups, from manufacturing, selling, delivering, possessing, using, or being under the influence of cannabis without legal authorization. As a reminder, just because a substance is legal, various risks associated with use still remain.
Tobacco use has been on the decline for decades. Unfortunately, much of the work to curb traditional cigarette smoking rates is being threatened by the rise in vaping among youth. While some view vaping as a less harmful form of nicotine use or even as a way to stop smoking, much is still unknown on the long-term adverse effects vaping has on a person’s health. Chemicals contained in the aerosols produced by vaping are known to be carcinogenic. Vaping is NOT risk free and is not an FDA approved form of smoking cessation.
If you are currently using tobacco or nicotine products, including vapes, there are numerous resources to help you be free from nicotine.
Most college students do not misuse prescription medications, and the opioid crisis that is affecting many people in the United States has luckily not affected the college environment to the same degree. However, misperceptions around prescription stimulant use in the college environment exist and warrant more awareness around the negative effects of misusing this class of substances.
When prescribed a prescription medication, store it in a secure location such as a lockbox, medication safe, or other lockable spaces. Avoid storage places where others have easy access, such as drawers, nightstands, or counters/cabinets.
Once finished with a prescription medication, you have options for safely disposing of it:
When does drinking for fun or other drug use turn into a concern? It’s not always easy to see when substance use has crossed the line from moderate or social use to misuse or abuse. And it can be hard to talk to your friend about your concerns for their drug use habits. Being a friend or partner of a person with an substance use problem can be difficult for you and negatively affect your relationship. You are not alone.
Tips for talking with your friend:
Ask yourself these questions:
If you have answered YES to any of these questions, consider seeking support from any of these resources:
If you are concerned about a student's health or behavior, and your concern is not considered an emergency, please complete a DukeReach report or call 919-681-2455.
Struggling with addiction? Seeking support for your recovery journey? Join our weekly seminar meetings where students discuss issues they face as they pursue recovery at Duke.
The Recovery Support Group at Duke provides a caring and supportive environment for students working towards recovery from addictions. We communicate a message of hope, link students with recovery-related services and persons in recovery, and facilitate the development of healthy and sustainable habits of mind, body, and spirit.
Recovery is a lifestyle and long-term journey towards freedom from addiction and substance use through abstinence. However, while remaining abstinent from substance use is important, is only one aspect of long-term recovery. For many of us, the brightest part of our long-term recovery lies in finding a new way of living that seeks to break old habits, understand ourselves better, and even enrich our spiritual lives. It is in these aspects that we find freedom from the obsessions and painful cycles of our past.
The details of each person’s journey on the road of recovery can look different. Some may use 12-step or SMART programs as a foundation for their recovery while others may set a goal with a therapist, medical professional, or spiritual mentor. For some, their recovery may include MAT, or medically-assisted treatment, using substances like methadone or suboxone administered by licensed professionals to help them abstain and remain sober.
No matter what each individual’s road looks like, the Recovery Support Group is united in our common bond of seeking freedom from addiction, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
DukeReach: DukeReach provides case management services to students in recovery or returning from a leave of absence for ongoing coordination of care and referrals to resources on and around campus. For more information contact DukeReach.
AA Meetings: Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. For Durham-based AA meetings, click here.
Al-Anon: Al-Anon provides friends and relatives of those with a substance use disorder an opportunity to gather together to share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.
NA Meetings: Narcotics Anonymous provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for substance abusers who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. the name, Narcotics Anonymous, is not meant to imply a focus on any particular drug; NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs including alcohol. For Durham-based NA meetings, click here.
Duke Marine Lab - Recovery Resources: For students taking classes at the Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC and looking for support, click here for resources.
We recognize that parents and families are the first line of defense against many unhealthy decisions that students make.
It is important to have open and honest conversations with your student about their personal well-being. Specifically, having non-judgmental discussions about alcohol and other drug use helps educate and guide them towards decisions that keep them happier and healthier while they are at Duke.Get the Conversation Started