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What You Need to Know About Dabbing Among Teens

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we help many teens who struggle with substance abuse. When addressed at such a young age, the negative effects of substance abuse can be counteracted. Our therapists are trained to help teens learn positive coping skills to replace their need for substances. If your teen son is abusing drugs or alcohol, contact us for more information about our residential treatment center for teens.

What is dabbing?

If you’re like most adults, you only recently learned about dabbing. Dabbing is a somewhat new trend for using marijuana, and it’s gaining popularity among teens. Though it is unhealthy for teens to use marijuana in any form, many try it anyway. However, teens who are new to substance use might not know what they’re getting into with dabbing.

Over the decades, marijuana use has changed a bit for high school students. Though some kids still try marijuana for the first time by smoking a joint, there are many more options on the market these days. In the past few years, lots of teens and adults have transitioned to vaping marijuana.

Dabbing is a new way teens smoke marijuana, but it can be more dangerous than regular vaping. Dabs are a waxy substance made by extracting THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) from marijuana using butane or similar products. Dabs are much more potent than the marijuana that you would find in a joint or in most regular vape pen oils.

Traditional cannabis has a THC concentration of about 15%-25%, but the THC concentration in dabs is around 80%. Dabs can be used a few different ways, but the basic process is the same. Users heat the waxy dab, let it vaporize, and inhale it just like smoke. Due to the extremely high THC content, dabs get the user a lot higher a lot faster than a typical joint or vape pen.

Why are dabs dangerous for teens?

Unwanted side effects

Just like more traditional methods of smoking marijuana, users can experience negative side effects while they’re high. Since dabs are so much more potent than traditional cannabis, the side effects can hit quickly and unexpectedly. Kids who are trying dabs for the first time might not realize just how intense it can be.

Some adverse side effects of dabbing may include:

  1. Stumbling

  2. Slurring words

  3. Rapid heart rate

  4. Anxiety

  5. Hallucinations

  6. Nausea

  7. Dizziness

  8. Sleepiness

If they are not in a safe place or with safe people while dabbing, teens can get into extra trouble when they experience these side effects.

Untrustworthy sources

Teens don’t get their drugs from reputable sources. Even in states where marijuana is legal, you have to be 21 or older to buy it legally. So, teens get their drugs wherever they can. This means that they’re either buying it from another teenager or an adult who is willing to sell drugs to kids.

Some dealers try to make their dabs at home. This means that the dabs can be inconsistent and dangerous. They could include chemicals that are poisonous or that contain more than just THC.


As with all drug use, teens risk developing an addiction if they habitually use dabs. Though THC is not an addictive chemical, it can still change how teens interact with drugs and alcohol in general. While they are intoxicated, teens are more likely to try activities that they usually wouldn’t do. Their inhibitions are low, so they’re less likely to say “no” when they should.

Also, when teens start using any mind-altering drug to cope with the stresses of life, they can carry those habits into adulthood. Life doesn’t get much easier as an adult. If they have only learned to cope with stress by using and abusing substances, they are more likely to continue those behaviors throughout their lives.

If your son abuses drugs or alcohol, he might benefit from attending our residential treatment center to address his behavior. Contact us at 866-224-2733 for more information about our program for troubled teen boys.

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