24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

Dab Drug Use: What You Should Know

The term “dabbing” has become a popular word among teens. It is used to describe a particular stance that a person takes: when the head drops into their bent elbow with both of their arms raised upwards to the same side. However, this isn’t the only thing that dabbing or dab refers to. More recently, dabbing has taken on another more dangerous meaning: dab drug use.

6 Minute Read | Published Aug 23 2023 | Updated Feb 29 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by

Dab Drug Use: The Dangers and Side Effects of Dabbing

Click here to find a rehab facility near you (scroll down to select your state)

What is Dab Drug?

So, what is dab drug and why is it a cause for concern? Marijuana usually has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of between 5 and 15 percent. THC is the substance that is responsible for the “high” that people experience when they use marijuana. However, the THC oil used in dabbing can reach upwards of 75.9 percent concentration – far higher than any marijuana plant could ever be.

Dab drug use is when a person uses butane hash oil (BHO) to essentially get a very powerful hit of marijuana. It is often vaporized in the new-age vaping products, which can increase the amount of THC that is affectively absorbed, when compared to smoking a normal marijuana flower.

Other ways that people smoke the wax-like BHO is to put it onto a “nail” which is then attached to a bong or other smoking device. It is then heated, usually with a blowtorch, and inhaled. Both methods of inhaling the substance results in an intense and instant high as the cannabinoids reach the brain. Just one tic-tac sized hash oil droplet can be the equivalent to roughly three average-rolled marijuana “joints”.

The Dangers of Dab Drug Use

One of the challenges to preventing dab drug use is that most people believe that marijuana is safe and non-addictive. However, various studies have revealed that the drug has its dangers, chief among them being that it is addictive. As with any addiction, the situation often reaches a point where the person’s life starts to fall apart with many important areas of their life being neglected. Such an addiction can be debilitating, especially when the person is in denial about the problem.

The following looks at some of the real dangers that dab drug use has, including dab drug side effects and factors that can allow dab drug use to become a problem, especially in the youth.

Dab Drug Side Effects and Risks

Since teens often don’t have access to large amounts of funds, and hash oil often comes with a hefty price tag, many teens have resorted to finding other solutions. The youth today have access to streaming platforms that have countless how-to guides on how to make hash oil, most of which include the use of butane. The manufacturing of BHO was the cause of 49 unexpected explosions across the country in 2014 due to the highly-flammable butane that is used, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The manufacturers, who are often in the teens, have caused houses to burn down and personally suffered broken bones, severe burns, and even death in some cases.

Apart from the dangers of making BHO, other risks and dabbing effects on brain include the following:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired coordination
  • Poor concentration
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Unpleasant hallucinations
  • Mood disorders

Buying hash oil also has its own set of risks. In a study, all of the 57 samples that were tested contained the residual presence of pesticides and other solvents that are harmful when ingested or smoked.

Dabbing Effects on Brain

While marijuana effects on the brain may be limited compared to some other drugs, it has still been linked to psychosis. The dabbing effects on brain are exponentially increased due to the abnormally high concentrations of THC – users often fall to the ground due to the tremendous effect that such concentrated amounts of THC have.

Furthermore, teens are even more at risk to the dabbing effects on brain. This is because they are going through important developmental changes in their brain chemistry that the presence of THC can negatively affect – especially the high amounts found in dab drug abuse.

Use of BHO is a concern in teens for another reason; the earlier use of drugs starts, the more likely a person is to get addicted in their later life. For years, marijuana was seen as the gateway drug and still is to an extent for the following reason: by experimenting with what seems like a safe substance, it opens the user up to more experimentation with harder drugs, and the changes that occur in the developing brain can further make the teen more susceptible to addiction.


One of the biggest causes for concern is that hash oil and the marijuana flower is becoming more accessible. Legalization of the drug in many states now means that not only is the perceived dangers of using the drug lowered, but adolescents have more access to it than ever before. This fact alarms some officials as early experimentation can lead to riskier behavior, such as trying to other drugs.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Marijuana is addictive. While its addictive properties may lie mostly in the domain of mental addictiveness, the end result is often the same as with other physically additive substance: the user’s life starts to fall apart due to their inability to stop drug abuse, leading to poor school or work performance, and responsibilities falling by the wayside. Addiction may be a destructive force, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you or a loved one is struggling with dab drug abuse, then you can find help at the many rehab centers across the country, such as the ones listed on Better Addiction Care. In general, the treatment process includes the following:

  • Intake/assessment – Due to the complex nature of addiction, each person needs to be evaluated before starting with treatment. What works fantastically for one addict, may be ineffective for another.
  • Detox – Marijuana addiction has withdrawal symptoms when use of the substance stops. These symptoms are mainly experienced mentally, such as depression and anxiety, but there are also physical symptoms such as insomnia and severe headaches. Detox is therefore the first step in order to prepare the addict for the next phase.
  • Behavioral therapy and counseling – Therapy is a cornerstone to addiction treatment. Its purpose is to tackles to problems and mental issues that first caused the abuse and subsequent addiction to drugs. Therapy and counseling then helps by providing alternative ways to process stress and helps to alter the individual’s behavior and responses so that drug abuse doesn’t occur in response.
  • Maintenance – Recovering from addiction is a long-term process. Maintenance is required to ensure that it doesn’t take hold again. To achieve this, aftercare services such as sober living homes and support groups can assist the recovering person to maintain their sobriety goals.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
"Marijuana Concentrates"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
"Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
"Synthetic Cannabinoids"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet American Addiction Centers
"Dabbing: The New Drug Epidemic"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet DrugAbuse.com
"Dabbing: The Dangerous New Way Teens are Using Marijuana"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Healthline
"What is Dabbing?"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Verywell Mind
"Dabbing: What It Is and Why It’s Dangerous"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Medical News Today
"What to Know About Dabbing Marijuana"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Drug Policy Alliance
"Dabbing: A New Way to Get High"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023
bullet Psychology Today
"The Dangers of Dabbing: What You Need to Know"
Retrieved on June 28, 2023

Related Articles

Marijuana Abuse Updated: Feb 29 2024 With all of the reports of medical marijuana use and the decriminalization of marijuana in many places, it can be easy to forget that marijuana...
Marijuana Withdrawal Updated: Feb 29 2024 Studies show that approximately 48 million American adults currently use marijuana.About 10% of regular cannabis users will develop a marijuana use disorder or marijuana...
Exploring Edibles: Understanding Their Effects and Their Implications on Drug Tests Updated: Apr 08 2024 Edibles, an increasingly common means of consuming cannabis, offer a delicate and handy way to feel the effects of marijuana without the need...

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel