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Stages of Being High

You might not experiences all the stages of being high every time, but you've surely experienced each one enough to relate.

Photo by @CVDOP Limbocker on Unsplash

No two highs are the same, just as no two people and no two strains are the same, but there are some decidedly familiar stages of being high that you probably know quite well. Not all of them are great—you can't predict when a wave of paranoia might wash over you—but from the first moments of trying to gauge your high to those final, meditative moments before you drift off for the night, a lot of it is pretty darn good. It's always a different experience, with familiar phases and stages in each.


Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash

Depending on how you're ingesting your cannabis, this stage can be very short, or very long. Sometimes, you might not start to feel it all. If you do though, the very first stage of being high is asking yourself, "Wait, did that work?" You feel something, then you think, "Hang on, is that placebo? Don't I normally feel like this? Am I thinking in a weird way?" With forms that take longer to hit, like edibles, you might start considering eating that other half of the brownie (usually a bad idea—if you do, it'll hit you just as it's too late to go back, and you're in for a ride). This stage makes you think a lot about what being high really feels like, as you introspect and try to tell if you're really feeling it yet, or just tricking yourself.

The Hit

At some point, you'll stop wondering if that worked, and move on to the next stage of being high: The hit. That's when you start to feel your eyes widen just a bit, you say, "Oh, right," and you won't be doubting a thing. Sometimes, this is one of the most pleasant moments—it may even be a comforting feeling, one that makes you think, "Ah, yes, this." Of course, if you're coming out of a coughing fit after a big hit, this stage might also feel something like, "Oh boy." However intense the feeling, it's a marker of what's to come—your high has begun, and it's time to see where the ride takes you.


Photo by Kal Loftus on Unsplash

Often from the moment it hits you, you'll have a sense of euphoria. That euphoria might be for the feeling itself, or additionally for the knowledge of what's to come. There's usually a lot of giggling in this stage of being high, exclaiming to your friends about your mental state, and looking around in wonder at how different the world looks now than it did five minutes ago. You can put on your favorite music, or the most banal television show, and just enjoy it. Your very thoughts seem suddenly much more interesting (are they really, though?) and you might feel compelled to share them. You'll look around at your friends, and want to make sure everyone is having as swell a time as you.


You're not often going to be able to skip this stage of being high, whatever plans for healthy living you might have had (though, there are healthy munchie foods available if you can remember them). Suddenly, everything sounds delicious. You might get creative with your food, mix some crushed Oreos into brownie batter and eat it with a spoon. Or you may suddenly become a gourmet chef, determined to make the best grilled cheese the world has ever seen. Or hey, maybe you're just really excited about that 7-Up and bag of Cheetos you set aside for the occasion. Whatever your munchie MO, you're going to really enjoy this part. Until you start to feel your stomach rebel, of course.


Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Unfortunately, most people are all too familiar with this common stage of being high. The initial rush is gone, that sense of euphoria gives way to more concrete thoughts, and you're very much in your own head. It's harder to make sense of various stimuli when you're high, so you're liable to misinterpret things around you—a friend's neutral face seems worried, the pizza guy at the pizza door must be a cop (no matter how long weed has been legal, the cops are out to get you in this stage), you stop moving as to avoid stupid stoner fails and your friends laugh at you for being so high that all you can think to do is be absolutely still. Many people start worrying that they're too high, that their heartbeat is too fast. Or, they start worrying about their friends, fearing they're not having a good time or that they missed something important. Though decidedly the worst stage of being high, this paranoia is usually remediable with some basic relaxation techniques and a little bit of time.


Depending on the person, the strain, the context, and various other factors, many people experience a phase of pensive thinking during their high. You're sober enough to appreciate your new drug-induced perspective, and you take some time to introspect. Deep thoughts (or seemingly deep) cross your mind, sometimes at high speeds. You start to feel a sense that this unique opportunity is a chance to learn something new without leaving your own head. You might draw some interesting connections, or just realize something interesting about the world. Often, people in this stage of being high seem reclusive, and might withdraw from the social circle to work things through.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Following a period of pensive thought, people start wondering about the world outside of them again. At this point, you want to reconnect with your friends, check in, and share some of the thoughts you were having—deep or otherwise. This is, in part, a reaction to the self-seclusion of a pensive phase, when thoughts of other people and the outside world replace the internal thoughts, and a desire to reconnect arises (even if you were only out of it for a few minutes). This can be one of the most fun parts of a social high, as it's an opportunity to share your experiences among friends and receive feedback on any thoughts that you might consider valuable.

Cycles of Confusion and Clarity

Permeating your experience will be alternating stages of confusion and clarity. This is especially true just after the peak of the high, as you're still experiencing serious changes to the way you think and track thoughts, but you're also increasingly able to engage with and follow those thoughts. You'll get lost down a rabbit hole, or spend 10 minutes trying to figure out if the girl on the TV has an extra finger. That confusion gives rise to a new focus—you have a question to answer. Immediately after this, a period of clarity follows, where things seem comparatively normal and you can reflect on the experience of confusion and, well, highness, that you just had. Unfortunately, you'll get distracted again, another six-fingered girl will show up on screen, and the cycle repeats.


Photo by feliperizo.co | heart made on Unsplash

The final stage of being high is always a pleasant one. You're no longer lost in your head or your atmosphere, but you're relaxed. You can sit back, curl up with a blanket, and watch (and more importantly, actually follow) a conversation or any of the top stoner TV shows. You're tired, but at this point, it's a cozy kind of tired. You know your bed awaits, and that it will feel just wonderful, but you're content for the time being to just lay back on the couch and chill out. Awake, asleep, somewhere in between—it's all the same. You've got a comfy surface, a warm blanket, and an all-around good feeling.


Of course, these stages of being high don't come in a set order each time. You can't map your high ahead of time. You might think you're settling in for the night, then find yourself thinking pensively, then wanting to return to conversation, then hungry again. The point is, these stages come in cycles of repetition, hard to predict but frequently present and familiar. Of course, they'll repeat themselves all the faster if you take another hit.