“Shatter” is a term that refers to an extremely potent cannabis concentrate, also called butane hash oil (BHO). BHO is produced using butane to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. These chemical compounds interact with brain receptors and induce feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
Cannabis concentrates are often given names related to their color and texture. Shatter is amber and gets its name from its somewhat transparent, glass-like surface that “shatters” when broken up before use. It should be noted that the transparency of the drug Shatter is not an indication of its purity and is, instead, the result of how it is produced. During the heating process, butane is used to extract cannabinoids from cannabis plant matter, yielding a brittle, orangish-yellow product that is smooth to the touch.
As with any new psychoactive drug, Shatter has been rapidly gaining popularity, especially in states where marijuana has been legalized. Many young persons especially may find themselves attracted to the color, psychotropic effects, and the custom of “shattering” the brittle product before ingesting it have become enthralled with it.
Is Shatter More Addictive Than Other Forms of Marijuana?
Shatter is not necessarily more addictive than non-concentrated marijuana, but it can contain higher amounts of cannabinoids, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Marijuana flowers typically consist of 3-30% THC, whereas concentrates such as Shatter may contain as much as 30-90% THC.
Like other cannabis concentrates high in THC, it is believed by many to have the potential to be habit-forming in some instances. The development of a dependence on or psychological addiction to marijuana concentrates largely depends on individual factors such as biology and if a co-existing substance or mental health disorder is present.
Shatter is ingested by inhaling the vapors produced by placing a small amount of cannabis extract (also referred to as “dabs“) on a heated surface, which is connected to a water pipe. Unfortunately, this process has the potential to be dangerous.
How Dangerous Is Shatter?
In recent years, there has been considerable debate about the safety of marijuana concentrates, including Shatter, as they have increased in popularity. Butane hash oil production started as makeshift home lab operations that are now famous for causing severe explosions, fires, and fatalities. This, in essence, negates any potential positive benefits from using more concentrated THC.
Also, if the butane is not heated at the correct temperature long enough, an excess amount can remain in the mixture. This can be toxic to those who ingest the concentrate. Some research has also found that the temperature of the heated surface used when dabbing may lead to more toxins being inhaled, but more studies are needed to determine the degree of damage these toxins can cause.
Marijuana concentrates made by trustworthy manufacturers, such as in states where marijuana use is legal for medical or recreational use, can be much safer, as they should only contain as much butane as specific regulations will permit.
In some instances, individuals may infuse Shatter into butter or oil and use it to make “edibles.” Edibles made with potent concentrates such as Shatter can contain such high concentrations of THC that they can lead to short-term poisoning when ingested.
Although marijuana overdose is unlikely, severe adverse side effects can occur. This is especially true of extracts that are high in THC potency. It only requires a tiny amount of Shatter to experience the same sensations flower cannabis would produce.
Shatter Side Effects
The potential side effects of Shatter are not wholly understood. What is known is that Shatter can induce side effects similar to traditional marijuana but can be more intense due to having increased levels of cannabinoids.
Possible side effects of Shatter include the following:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure that may result in strokes
- Possible infections, including asthma, sinusitis, and bronchitis, in excessive users
- Throat irritation causing narrowing, spasms, and soreness
- Weaker immune system
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loss of concentration
- Sleep disorders or problems sleeping
Cannabis concentrates can also impact a person’s mood, causing them to experience anxiety and paranoia. Shatter can affect the brain significantly and make it challenging to concentrate, impair memory, and delay response time.
Some individuals can become emotionally and physically dependent on marijuana and its concentrates. They may feel as if they cannot control the urge to use or need it to get through everyday life. Dependence on cannabis concentrates also is associated with tolerance, a condition in which larger and more frequent amounts of Shatter will be required to feel the same effects.
When this occurs, a person will likely experience unwanted withdrawal effect if they attempt to quit or cut back. Possible withdrawal symptoms of marijuana concentrations are mostly psychoemotional in nature and can include the following:
- Anxiety and uneasiness
- Irritability and agitation
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary cannabinoid in cannabis plants, is structurally similar to anandamide, a brain chemical produced naturally. This similarity in structure allows the brain to identify the presence of THC and alter regular brain communication.
Excessive and chronic cannabis use can cause the brain to decrease its production of anandamide. This can cause problems within the brain’s communication network that uses these cannabinoid receptors, also referred to as the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system plays a key role in the nervous system, and interfering with it can cause serious side effects. For example, THC can alter how brain regions function, including the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex. These brain structures enable individuals to learn, form memories, and shift their focus and concentration from one thing to another.
For this reason and others, when a person experiences withdrawals from Shatter that contains a large amount of THC, they can sometimes experience relatively uncommon withdrawal symptoms that are unique to the individual.
Treating Shatter Dependence
People experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms may benefit from an intensive, long-term treatment program. Residential treatment, in particular, can provide the psychological and medical services needed when a person is undergoing Shatter withdrawal.
Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help treat marijuana use disorders. However, a combination of detox and behavioral therapies can help people break free from their dependence to Shatter or other marijuana-based drugs.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery use a multifaceted approach to addiction treatment in both residential and partial hospitalization formats. We employ highly-skilled healthcare providers and addiction specialists who are dedicated to ensuring each person we treat is equipped with the tools, education, and support they need to recover fully and foster a happy life free from substance abuse.
The programs feature include multiple evidence-based modalities and activities, including the following:
- Individual and family counseling
- 12-step group support
- Relapse prevention
- Addiction education
- Health and wellness education
- Meditation and yoga
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni services and activities