What is “dabbing?”

Karen's goodbyeAn Interview with Deanna Seather-Brady, Ryther Chemical Dependency Program Director

What exactly is dabbing? When did this begin and why?

Dabbing is consuming a cannabis (THC) concentrate. It is exposed to a heated surface and the vapor is inhaled. The result is an intense effect from a small amount. Dabbing has been around for years, but traditionally only among long time users of Marijuana. We have been seeing it here at Ryther among teen clients frequently for the last year or so.

How does this differ from usual marijuana?

It is being referred to as the “Crack of Marijuana” comprised of 30 – 90% THC verses up to 22%. Unlike marijuana, there is minimal smell so it is easily concealed.

How long does the high last?

Effects vary depending on dose, route of administration and tolerance level.

What items are required to do this?

Rig – glass pipe or bong, butane torch, titanium nail or other kind of nail.

What can go wrong during this process of preparation in terms of explosives, injury or fire?

Fire and explosions have occurred with butane.  Butane gas sinks and can develop into a butane pool in an unventilated closed space and inadvertently explode if ignited.

Are there specific signs parents should be on the lookout for?

Paraphernalia, looks like paste or wax, easy to conceal. Behaviorally, you could see paranoia or symptoms of psychosis. There also would be high THC levels in a urine analysis.

What is the vernacular surrounding dabbing?

It is called honey, amber, shatter, wax and ear wax.

What is the most concerning element that you and other treatment providers and emergency room personnel are seeing?

We are seeing more and more psychotic symptoms, losing consciousness and some burn injuries. The other real issue is that with teens that have a predisposition for thought disorders or psychosis, such high levels of THC can be the tipping point. We have seen some clients actually not recover from a state of psychosis after dabbing.

What can we do as parents to warn teens about this?

Talk to them about it openly while maintaining a no tolerance stance regarding use (this includes all substances of abuse).

With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State, will dabbing become less or more popular?

The research in this state is showing that the process of legalization has decreased the perception of risk leading to dabbing becoming more and more popular with teens. Adults that have been using Marijuana regularly and have an increased tolerance report that dabbing allows them to be able to feel high again.

What some good websites for information?   Google images have pictures of the substance and paraphernalia. At this time there really isn’t a very good online source of information about dabbing.


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Children and Guns

Thoughts on Policy Development and Child Development

In the news recently there has been a spate of sensational headlines involving children with firearms with some of those stories having tragic endings (see here and here). While I suppose it’s possible (though far fetched) for someone to argue that children have a Second Amendment right to bear arms, what is indisputable is they should not be allowed to carry firearms to school. When they do, someone is inevitably injured or killed. This concept is not a particularly controversial topic for discussion. Most people would agree that we should not allow first graders to carry guns. At the same time, in the face of compelling scientific evidence about adolescent brain development, we in Washington have a policy that allows thirteen-year-olds to make decisions about their mental health treatment, including Chemical Dependency treatment.

Given that we know that adolescent brains are not capable of making decisions that carry this kind of risk, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could justify it. While I object to this policy as a provider of care, my principle objection is that it too often paralyzes parents.

One rationale that I have often heard is that many times, parents use confinement in treatment facilities to bully and incarcerate argumentative youth. Indeed, I have seen such things happen. At the same time I have seen people driving on the highway clearly intoxicated, but I don’t conclude that we should not stop and arrest such people.

The fact is, we are the adults and are supposed to know better. I find it interesting that in the Child Welfare field, there are ardent advocates that believe that the children’s parents always know better. If that is true, maybe we ought to give all parents the same presumption of competence in all things relating to their children. In fact, we do most of the time, so it makes the State’s policy about children having the adult competence to accept or reject mental health or addiction treatment all the more curious. To allow a cocaine-addicted sixteen-year-old to check out of treatment  is the same as allowing the nine-year-old to carry a 9mm pistol in his or her backpack. Look for deadly outcomes from such a policy.

Contributed by Lee E. Grogg, Ryther’s Executive Director/CEO

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