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Signs Your Teen Is Smoking Dabs

Dabs, also referred to as wax, shatter, amber, honeycomb, or budder, are slang terms for highly concentrated doses of cannabis. Dabs are made by extracting the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids using a solvent (e.g., carbon dioxide or butane) yielding a somewhat solid, sticky oil. To smoke dabs, a teen must heat it on an extremely hot surface and then it is typically inhaled through a dab rig, which is a specialized type of bong or water pipe. There is a common misconception that because dabbing only requires one hit to achieve its desired effects, it is a safer method of ingestion. Ingesting any substance comes with risk, and there is no safe way to abuse drugs, including dabs. Verywell Mind alludes to research that suggests that dabs “can have a THC concentration of 80% in comparison to traditional cannabis, which has a concentration of about 10 – 15%.” Further, dabs can be as much as four times stronger than a joint. Smoking dabs produces intense physiological effects that begin almost immediately after inhaling. This can be highly dangerous for anyone, especially teenage users. 

Signs and Symptoms

Each teenager is different and will have a distinct reaction to dabbing. Teenagers have the propensity to exhibit any combination of warning signs and could present with varying levels of severity of symptoms. It is important to note that simply because a teenager exhibits one or more of the following signs it does not unequivocally mean he or she is dabbing. Nevertheless, as a parent it is helpful to be aware of some of the warning signs associated with dabbing. Below are examples of some of the commonly reported signs and symptoms that could indicate your teenager is dabbing:

  • Poor judgement
  • Attention difficulty
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Relaxation
  • Increased appetite
  • Heightened body sensations
  • Stimulation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired memory
  • Foggy thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Decreased problem-solving abilities
    Memory impairment

Dabbing increases a teenager’s risk of developing a variety of adverse short and long—term effects. These could include, but are not limited to examples such as blackouts, rapid heartbeat, loss of consciousness, paranoia, and hallucinations. If left untreated, habitual dabbing can result in severe long-term consequences. When in doubt it is best to err on the side of caution and address it head on with the help of a qualified medical and/ or mental health professional.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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