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Talking to your kid about drugs and their effects.
March 10, 2017

How to Talk to Your Teen/Child About the Dangers of Dabbing

Talking to your kid about drugs and their effects.Being a parent is a tough job. You want the best for your children, yet wonder at times if you’re doing or saying the right thing. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, sometimes your kids know as much, or more than you do. They know, for example, where to obtain drugs, illegal, illicit or prescription drugs used for nonmedical purposes. How do you talk to them about the dangers and risks inherent in drug use? One of the more dangerous trends is dabbing. Do you know how to discuss this highly addictive drug with your teen/child?


Dabbing, an offshoot practice of using marijuana, sprang onto the scene several years ago, and quickly caught on. Despite the dangers involved in dabbing, however, there’s still much misconception about what dabbing is and why it’s so potentially damaging to teens and adolescents.

Before you can speak intelligently about dabbing with your teenage children, you must first educate yourself. The last thing you want to happen is that you come off as naive or ill-informed. It can be hard to take a parent seriously who has no clue what he or she is talking about.

Dabbing refers to the practice of smoking THC resins that are produced through a complex extraction process with the marijuana plant. According to information posted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), here are various forms of extracts used in dabbing, including:

  • Hash oil or honey oil
  • Wax or butter
  • Shatter

If these names sound strange, it’s time to become familiar with them. Your teen/child probably already is. Hash oil or honey oil is a gooey liquid, while wax or butter is a solid, soft substance with the kind of texture found in lip balm. Shatter, on the other hand, is a solid that’s hard and amber colored.

They’re all extremely dangerous due to the high concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) extract delivered to unsuspecting users. Dabbing sends far too many young people to hospital emergency rooms each year. Another extreme danger involved in dabbing is in preparing the extracts, generally done with the use of butane (using lighter fluid). Serious fire and burn injuries have resulted from explosions caused during preparation of these extracts at home.


Images of blissful nirvana from toking on a marijuana joint don’t compare to the dangers inherent in dabbing. One study published by researchers in the journal, Addictive Behavior, in 2014, found that the new (at the time) method of administering cannabinoids, butane hash oil (dabs) has spread beyond the medical marijuana community and is now considered “significantly more dangerous than other forms of cannabis use.”

A more recent study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (2016) confirms that the THC content in dabbing is considerably higher than in flower cannabis (single dose), yet, there is little exploration of dabbing in empirical literature. The study findings show the need for additional research on butane hash oil and its implications for the ongoing debate on marijuana.

The user engaging in dabbing is also likely unaware that the substance contains contaminants and toxins, some of which may include solvents and pesticides. A 2015 California study publicized in the Journal of Toxicological Science found that over 80 percent of 57 samples were contaminated in some form. Due to its rapid and intense physiological effect, dabbing also makes the practice more prone to abuse by users.

There’s even evidence of cannabis-induced psychosis from the use of high potency wax dabs. The higher concentrations of THC in wax dabs raises concern about the substance’s psychotic ability.

Explosions, high potency, lack of research into long-term effects, contamination, psychosis – it doesn’t get much more dangerous than this.


Talking about drug use with your teen/child can seem like an intimidating prospect. Instead of adopting a fearful attitude about this important discussion, however, strive to be as calm, level-headed, informative, non-judgmental and loving as possible. If you want your teen/child to engage in constructive discussion about this, as well as other conversations you may have about alcohol and drug use, you need to be firm, consistent and educated.

If you’ve kept the lines of communication open with your teen/child, he or she will feel comfortable discussing their concerns with you. They’re also more likely to let you know if there’s been an increase in dabbing activity at their school or in circles they know of among various friends. This isn’t “ratting” anyone out, just being candid. Reassure your teen/child that you appreciate their honesty and allow them to tell you what’s on their mind.

When discussing the dangers of dabbing and its inherent health risks, be matter of fact, not overly dramatic. You don’t want to induce hysteria or fear, just a healthy respect for how much damage this toxic substance can be. It’s never an OK practice. Be sure to stress that, for your teen/child needs to know that drug use won’t be tolerated in the home or by your teen/child.

It’s also a good idea to discuss alternate actions to take when or if your teen/child is pressured by his or her peers to engage in dabbing and other forms of drug and alcohol use. Practice or role-play language and scenarios they can use to extricate themselves from this type of peer pressure.

If you learn that your teen/child has already experimented with dabbing, hold your composure. Reiterate the dangers and give your son or daughter the opportunity to say that they’ll refrain from engaging in this harmful practice again. If it doesn’t come spontaneously, ask your teen/child to make a pledge to avoid this activity. It might be like pulling teeth, but you do want to help keep your teen/child safe. It’s also important to ensure your child feels loved and cared for and knows that you’ll always be there for him or her, no matter what happens. Encourage them to come to you with any concerns and promise to help them navigate any difficulties they experience.

If you believe that you’re too late to have the talk with your child about abusing concentrated marijuana, it’s important to know that rehab is an option. To learn more, read our Marijuana Rehab Guide.



ABC 15 Arizona: “’Dabbing’ the new drug of choice for teens?” Retrieved February 27, 2017

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, “Exploring Butane Hash Oil Use: A Research Note.” Retrieved February 27, 2017

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI),, “A new method of cannabis ingestion: the dangers of dabs.” Retrieved February 27, 2017

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI),, “Cannabis-induced psychosis associated with high-potency “wax dabs”. Retrieved February 27, 2017

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI),, “Understanding dabs: contamination concerns of cannabis concentrates and cannabinoid transfer during the act of dabbing.” Retrieved February 27, 2017

National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Marijuana: Marijuana Extracts.”  Retrieved February 23, 2017