My husband wasn’t always intolerant of THC. In fact, he and I consistently smoked on a social basis for 4 years before there was ever an issue. Then, in 2014, my husband had a traumatic experience with cannabis that completely brought his usage to a stop.
We were visiting two of our friends for spring break. We decided to break in a new bong while watching a movie on Netflix. The smoke sesh started off fine, nothing too out of the ordinary. But 15 minutes in, my husband took too big of a hit, and it was burnt to top it off; he coughed until he puked.
Once he was settled, he and I returned to the couch to relax. I assumed all was fine, so I decided to lean into the high. I closed my eyes and rested my head against the back of the couch. A few minutes later, however, something didn’t feel right. I opened my eyes to find my husband leaning forward: elbows propped on his knees with his hands in his hair and his right knee bouncing. I couldn’t see his entire face, but I could see that his eyes were wide open.
I asked if he felt sick again.
“No,” he answered quickly.
“Yes,” he corrected while briskly standing up.
We walked into the bathroom together and I closed the door. I’m not sure how much time we spent in the bathroom in total. Admittedly, I was pretty intoxicated myself. It just felt like an eternity.
While we were in the bathroom, my husband cycled through a frantic pattern of actions: pacing in a circle, suddenly feeling ill, kneeling in front of the toilet, attempting to make himself vomit (which he has no recollection of), asking if he was dying, and then asking why God was punishing him/trying to kill him.
Eventually we got him into the bedroom and wrapped up in a blanket. Once recovered, my husband made the decision to take a break from cannabis for the foreseeable future. The entire episode lasted about two hours.
Three or four nights later at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, asleep in our own bed at home, my husband sat bolt up out of a dead sleep.
“Hon, wake up,” he said frantically. “Something’s wrong.”
I jumped out of bed, terrified and unsure of what was happening. When I switched on the lamp, I saw him standing there, half naked, with his hands in his hair and pure terror in his eyes.
“It’s happening again. It’s circling again. Help me.”
At the time, we didn’t know that what he was experiencing was a panic attack. Neither of us were familiar with having or dealing with panic attacks. To make matters worse, when my husband has a panic attack, he experiences derealization. Derealization is similar to a hallucination. When my husband derealizes, he “hallucinates” that he is lying in a hospital bed dying.
That first night he had a panic attack while we were at home alone, we were so scared that we called 911 and ended up going to the Emergency Room. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of his panic attacks. He had panic attacks every night for the next 4 to 6 weeks. They got so bad that he had to take a break from college to recover. His recovery took 2 years. We spent the first year learning to manage his triggers and symptoms. He spend the second year recovering his overall mental health.
My husband has only consumed cannabis one time since the incident 4 years ago and it triggered a panic attack. It happened in late 2017 and it was his first panic attack in nearly a year. That night he decided he wasn’t going to try consuming cannabis again; he doesn’t think it’s worth it and I agree.
Which is why I confidently stand by the statement that cannabis isn’t for everyone. I’m sure my husband isn’t the only one who has cannabis-induced panic attacks. Certain strains are known for causing anxiety, paranoia, etc. And everyone reacts to strains differently. We need to trust people when they say no to cannabis. Cannabis is relatively harmless, except when it isn’t.
Cannabis is awesome! But it isn’t for everyone.