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Monday June 6, 2022

By Paul Barach

Reviewed By Joshua Hooten, M.D. on Monday June 6, 2022

A woman standing in a blurred crowd with her hands over her face, experiencing anxiety/panic Health/Science

The pandemic isn’t over, but thanks to vaccinations, masking, and less lethal variants we’ve moved into a post-lockdown phase (for now). While some are getting back into their routines (for better or for worse), others are having a hard time getting back to normal.

If you’re one of those people with lingering lockdown anxiety, you’re in good company. For over two years, everyone you came in contact with could potentially be carrying a life-altering virus for you or your loved ones (and this is still the case for immunocompromised individuals, parents of young children and many others).

Time with friends, family, and co-workers moved to screens. Dating became way trickier than it already is. Going to grocery stores, house parties, bars, or restaurants were all big risks that many avoided completely. Even if you came out of the worst of the pandemic relatively unscathed, it’s okay to feel more anxious or depressed. Having trouble getting back to “normal” is normal at a time like this.

Marijuana and Social Anxiety

One thing that helped a lot of people get through the worst phase of the pandemic has been cannabis — if state-wide dispensary sales are any indication. The year 2020 created a lot of new cannabis consumers, and 2021 wasn’t far behind.

With this in mind, PotGuide is here with some advice for the socially anxious on how to best include cannabis into your new, post-lockdown world.

Try Microdosing

Out of all the cannabis products available during the pandemic, edibles were the clear favorite. They were an easy entry point for newer users, lasted longer for those looking to stretch their budget, and were a safer option for anyone concerned about their lungs. If your lockdown experience can be summed up as “Stoned Alone,” your THC tolerance is probably high and your social skills, not so much.

a clear bottle of multicolored sugar coated gummy edibles
Lowering your typical dose of edibles may help reduce social anxiety and help you stay a bit more clear headed. photo credit

Edibles are great for doing chores around your place, zoning into a game, or just chilling on the couch with a screen or some music. However, 10 mg (or whatever amount you take) can make navigating social encounters a little harder, especially if you’re out of practice. You want your marijuana and social anxiety to work together, not combat each other.

Luckily, plenty of edible companies are starting to make low-dose options. You can also just cut your favorite edibles into quarters and see where it leads. A 2.5mg dose can give you that subtle uplift or chill as you’re re-introducing yourself to a social life, without the THC taking over the conversation. If your place of work is ending their telecommuting option, a microdose can help you get back into the office or onto the floor.

Mix in Some CBD

High-CBD flower and 1:1 CBD edibles have been around for a while now, and for good reason. CBD is known to be very beneficial for relieving stress and anxiety. If your marijuana and social anxiety are at odds, try mixing in some CBD. In fact, there is a thing called the Entourage effect, where all parts of cannabis work together to be more effective. So, you may get the desired effects from the THC and more anxiety relief from the CBD at a lower dose. If edibles are your thing, try a 1:1 gummy or chocolate bar.

a woman drops a drop of CBD tincture under her tongue
Adding CBD products into your routine is a great way to decrease anxiety when going out into the world. photo credit

You’ll still get the uplift of THC, but with the CBD helping take the edge off. Seek out some high-CBD marijuana strains or concentrates at your dispensary and either smoke them on their own, or mix them in with your favorite strain before heading out to the bar, party or whatever your night awaits.

Switch Up Your Strains

Many things have changed in the post-COVID world, and one of them might be your tried-and-true strains.

Before Covid-19 popped up in the news, sativas might have been your jam. Maybe Sour Diesel was your ticket to a great concert, Durban Poison made you the life at a party, or Strawberry Cough gave a first date that extra spark. Post-lockdown, you may find that sativas now just clam you up as your brain runs through all the things that are, can, or will go wrong. Instead of being a social butterfly, you can’t wait to cocoon up back at home.

Try smoking a strain you usually wouldn't smoke to see if your preference has changed.

On the other hand, indicas might have been your go-to in social situations. If being around people has drained your social battery, a light kush strain or a heavy edible may have helped you switch off your worries or lower your barriers as you navigated your way through. But after all that 2020 put you through, you might be fog-headed when you’re stone sober and feel a bit lost once those indica-leaning terpenes and cannabinoids take the wheel.

a hand holds up a nug of cannabis to a blue sky
If your usual go-to strains aren’t working for you anymore, try switching it up and trying something new. photo credit

Switching up your strains could be the answer. Instead of ordering the usual, ask your friendly neighborhood budtender what else is on the menu. A milder sativa, indica, or a hybrid could give you that lift instead of a nose-dive around people. Or try something completely new. If indicas now fog you up, a sativa might clear your head. If sativas now make you jumpy, an indica could help you settle down. Try new hybrids, buy a variety of grams. Try them out both at home and while out and about. Lower THC, different strain profiles, or more subtle effects could help you get back.

Change Your Consumption Routine

Pre-pandemic, you may have greeted each morning with a wake-and-bake dab, got back to level with a noontime toke, or wound down your workday stress with an evening gummy. Now everything’s been thrown off-kilter. A wake-and-bake isn’t as soothing if you’re scattered from lack of sleep and an evening gummy does no good if you’re too stressed to wind down. In other words, marijuana and social anxiety are now foes instead of friends. If the old ways aren’t helping like they used to, start experimenting with when and how much you consume. Maybe a morning gummy can help you glide through your workday so that you don’t need a wind-down, or postpone your wake-and-bake until you’ve shaken the cobwebs out.

Additionally, your body primes itself for any routine, including cannabinoids, which means it’s already got a firm opinion on the THC by the time it arrives in your system. Switching up when, where, and how you consume can help reintroduce THC to your system when it has more of an open mind to it.

Take a T-Break (Tolerance Break)

If cannabis isn’t helping get you back on your social game no matter what you try, it might be time for a hard reset on your tolerance. Consuming too much of any substance can severely reduce the effects it has, down regulating or blocking receptors, reducing production of biochemicals and neurotransmitters.

a person’s palm outstretched with a cannabis leaf on it, with a red slash through it
A tolerance break is always a good choice if cannabis isn’t working the same for you anymore. photo credit

Sometimes, this can change the effect the substance has entirely. Taking a couple of days or weeks off for your body to come back to level will help you dial in the best dose, strain, and time of consumption to help you get back on your social game. Medical cannabis patients might want to explore if there is any room to lower their dosages for a while (while still remaining within a comfortable range for their health).

The Wrap Up

Now that we are post-lockdown, cannabis has been helping a lot of people cope with this enormous, frequently tragic disruption in all of our lives. If THC isn’t giving you that TLC that it used to as you try returning to normal life, switching up your routine or your go-to strains may help. Adding in some CBD or lowering your dosage of THC may help turn the volume down, and taking a short break from cannabis completely can help you reset your levels.

However you’re getting through this new phase of the pandemic, remember to be kind to yourself. It may take some time to emotionally recover, and it may never feel like it was before the pandemic, but you will recover.

Also, if you are struggling, don’t rely solely on cannabis to get you through. Talk to a friend or family member, See a therapist, or talk to your physician about what’s going on. You will get through, but sometimes we all need a little help from someone else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Smoking Marijuana Help with Social Anxiety?

It certainly can. Finding a marijuana strain that makes you feel more relaxed, outgoing, and happy can certainly take the edge off any social anxiety. You may also try strains high in CBD if you find smoking marijuana makes you more anxious.

Does CBD Help Social Anxiety?

Yes. CBD is known to reduce stress and anxiety.

Why Do I Have Social Anxiety After Pandemic?

Many have social anxiety after a pandemic because it was a socially traumatic experience. People had to isolate themselves, and being in a crowded place or interacting with strangers could expose you or a loved one to a life-altering illness.

Can Cannabis Improve My Social Anxiety at Work?

It can. Marijuana can help with social anxiety by “taking the edge off” or giving you a mood boost. However, when it comes to work, you may want to try microdosing with edibles or smoking only small amounts so that it doesn’t interfere with your focus. Or, again, try using a higher CBD/lower THC strain for a while.

How has cannabis helped you get back in the swing of things?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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Expert Medical Reviewer

Joshua Hooten, M.D. Joshua Hooten, M.D.

Dr. Hooten is a research physician in new therapeutics with a special focus on psychiatric diseases. He received his MD from the University of Queensland in Australia (where he maintains close ties with the medical cannabis community) and a clinical certificate from Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans. He is passionate about advancing medicine, and he sees great potential in Psychedelics and Cannabis.

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