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Drug Addiction

Smoking Wax: Side Effects, Dangers, & Treatment Options For An Addiction

If you’ve heard a loved one talking about smoking wax or been offered some wax, it’s natural to be a little confused about what’s happening. After all, wax doesn’t sound like a typical slang name for a drug, and if you’ve seen ‘wax’ being smoked, it can be even more confusing.

Don’t worry. We’re here to help clear up any confusion you might be feeling.

Your instincts were right if you suspected that smoking wax was talking about drug use, but there’s a lot more you should know if you’re worried about a loved one smoking wax.

If you’re already smoking wax and want to learn more about the drug you’re taking, possible side effects, and options to help support you while you stop, you’re in the right place too. This article is designed to help people who already smoke, are considering smoking, or are worried that a loved one may be smoking wax or dealing with an addiction.

Ready?

Let’s get started.

What Is Smoking Wax?

Smoking wax is a nickname for smoking a kind of cannabis product. Dabs, or wax, is a highly refined and concentrated extract of cannabis, which can be heated and smoked to produce a similar high.

The main difference between smoking weed flowers or buds and smoking dabs, or wax, is that wax is significantly stronger in most cases and has stronger effects with much less product. A dime-sized piece of wax contains many doses.

Some people prefer smoking wax or dabs because they can get a similar effect to several hits (breaths) of regular weed in just one or two hits off a dab.

Smoking wax also requires higher temperatures and usually requires specialized equipment. You can’t use the same glass pipe interchangeably between wax and regular cannabis. The higher heat can make dabs harsher and more damaging in some cases, but the fact that you need much less to get a similar high and that you’ll only have one or two smoke-filled breaths can make it feel less harsh and easier to smoke than regular cannabis.

Is Smoking Wax Different From Smoking Weed?

Yes. Smoking wax is different from regular weed, partly because the high heat and concentration change how the person smoking interacts with the drug.

The higher concentrations of dabs also make some of the more severe side effects of marijuana use, like hallucinations and paranoia, much more likely. This is because it’s simply easier to get to the concentration of drug in your system where those symptoms are likely to happen.

It also seems like smoking wax causes worse withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking, especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time.

While weed is generally different from other drugs in that it has more mild withdrawal symptoms and it’s difficult to develop a chemical dependence on the drug, you can still develop a psychological addiction that may be difficult to overcome.

Because of the extreme highs that come from smoking wax, that may be more likely, especially if you’re relying on the drug to deal with anxiety or other underlying mental health conditions.

Remember, you’re dealing with a much stronger drug and more highly concentrated in wax than whole weed flower. The THC content in smoking wax averages between 58-64% and has been reported to exceed 80%.

It is important to remember, especially with more states legalizing medicinal cannabis products, that medicinal use of weed, no matter what form you use, can start to look and feel like an addiction. It may be an addiction, even if you’re using weed for medical reasons. You may want to look into alternative medications or other treatments to avoid becoming addicted to weed and weed products.

Is Smoking Wax New?

Not really. Smoking dabs or dab-like products has been a thing since at least the 1960s, but the increased prevalence of cannabis products today makes it easier to get smoking wax and has also made dabs a lot more socially acceptable.

Some groups may also prefer smoking wax because it can be easier to hide. A significant supply of wax takes up a lot less space than a similar supply of other cannabis products. Additionally, because you need to smoke much less for the same effects as other products, it can be easier to hide or cover the scent of smoking wax than other weed products.

That increased prevalence, plus the reasons someone might choose to smoke wax preferentially, make it seem like a newer product. It’s important to know that this isn’t necessarily new, but it’s much easier to do than it used to be.

It’s also important for people to understand that manufacturing wax can be dangerous, especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. In places where cannabis products are legal, professionals have carefully regulated processes to create smoking wax. Unfortunately, you probably can’t replicate those processes (or the safety precautions that go with them) at home.

So, not only is smoking wax potentially more dangerous than other cannabis products, but manufacturing wax is also significantly more dangerous – coming with a similar level of risk as manufacturing other illicit drugs.

What Are The Side Effects Of Smoking Wax?

The side effects of smoking wax are mostly similar, anecdotally, to the side effects of smoking weed or using other THC products. However, there may be additional side effects or health consequences to using smoking wax that isn’t yet well known or understood, simply because there hasn’t been enough time to study these products since they became more common.

There are also legal barriers to studying cannabis and cannabis products, like smoking wax, so long as the drug is federally illegal.

If you’re considering smoking wax or are worried that a loved one may be smoking wax, you should also be aware that there may be other side effects that aren’t listed here.

Common side effects of smoking wax include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure (while the drug is active in your system and for a while after)
  • Feeling hungry
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired memory (during and after smoking)
  • Altered sense of time
  • Altered sense (seeing brighter colors)

Rarer side effects of smoking wax include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

You should also know that some people are allergic to cannabis and cannabis products and that additional symptoms, especially itching or swelling of your face, mouth, or throat, may also indicate an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions can be serious and may require medical intervention. If you suspect you are dealing with an allergic reaction to smoking wax, call 911 or go to an emergency room for additional treatment.

Allergic reactions can become severe quickly, so even if you don’t think medical care is needed immediately, it is a good idea to consult with a doctor as soon as possible.

Is Smoking Wax Pointing To An Addiction At Hand?

Smoking wax doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is addicted, especially since it’s difficult to develop a chemical dependence on cannabis products, unlike other drugs. In addition, smoking wax can be used medicinally, and some people can control their cannabis use and avoid addictive behaviors.

Like all drugs, there is always some risk involved when you use smoking wax, which can cause health problems.

Those things are different from addiction, though.

Addictions are more likely to occur when the person using smoking wax has an underlying mental illness when they smoke wax regularly, and the stronger the smoking wax they choose is.

Like all addictions, addiction to smoking wax is also much more likely in people who don’t have a strong support network, people who have insecure or toxic relationships, people who are under a lot of stress, and anyone who is struggling in one or more areas of their personal and professional lives.

Especially if smoking wax use starts during high stress, that can make addiction more likely.

If you’re concerned that someone may be addicted to smoking wax or other cannabis products, it may be a good idea to see if you can learn more about their use and why they use. Because weed is in a legal gray zone and can be prescribed medically in some areas, some people may have legitimate and good reasons for using smoking wax, even considering the potential risks and side effects.

However, if someone is dealing with an addiction, the best thing you can do is offer support and make it clear that you will be there to support and help them recover from their addiction when and if they decide it’s time to get help.

How To Get The Help You Need If Addicted To Smoking Wax

Being addicted to anything can come with serious consequences for your health, wellbeing, and personal and professional lives. Smoking wax, despite its higher social acceptance, is no different.

People addicted to smoking wax may feel like they have no other options or can’t function as normal people do without the drug.

The truth is that your addiction isn’t helping you and that if you are addicted to smoking wax, there are likely better ways to cope with difficult things in your life. You can be happier and live a more fulfilling life if you choose to.

You don’t have to do it alone, either.

Recovery from any addiction is complicated and hard. That’s just the truth. But, with the right support system in place, and help and support from medical professionals that can help with both the physical and mental process of recovery, you can do it.

If you’re ready to see what life is like with an addiction to smoking wax, Ocean Recovery is here to help you. Reach out to us to learn more about our programs or to begin intake whenever you’re ready.

Sources:

Ocean Recovery has sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our Editorial Policy.

  1. Gordon S. Dabbing: A Dangerous New Way to Get High. Verywell Mind. Published January 7, 2022. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/marijuana-dabbing-4797506
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cannabis (Marijuana) Concentrates DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 25, 2020. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana-concentrates
  3. Abuse NI on D. Cannabis (Marijuana) DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published December 24, 2019. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana
Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Infinite RecoveryAscendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed August 13, 2022