Do you get higher when holding hits longer?

Do you get higher when holding hits longer?
Max Sargent

Do you think holding smoke in your lungs as long as possible gets you higher? Find out what science has to say about this common practice.

Are you convinced that inhaling as deep as you can and holding the smoke until it feels like your chest will explode gets you way higher?

Naw, bro - you're doing it wrong. Inhale normally, wait three seconds, then exhale. That's all you need, and here's why:


How your lungs workYour lungs contain little air sacs called alveoli. When you inhale, the alveoli immediately grab oxygen, THC and other chemicals (CBD, CBN, other cannabinoids) out the incoming air and transfer them to your bloodstream. From there, these tiny molecules travel throughout your body and to your brain. That's how you get high. Nicotine from cigarettes works the same way.

Because your lungs start to absorb any available THC instantly, there's no delay in chemical transfer. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that even the healthiest lungs aren't all that efficient. These organs were designed to take oxygen in and let carbon dioxide out - not get you high. For that reason, they only exchange about 5% of the oxygen and other gases your body can hold during a single inhale/exhale cycle.

That means no matter how much smoke you breathe in and how long you hold it, your body's only going to absorb a limited amount from a single toke.


Of course you feel light headed and dizzy after you hold smoke in for as long as you can. It might feel like a head rush, but what you're really experiencing is an oxygen-deprived brain. If you still think you get higher by holding your smoke longer, try holding your breath just as long and see how you feel.

Unless you vape or dab to eliminate most of the contaminants, you're also giving the natural tar from your smoke more time to adhere to your lungs. That's not good at all. Tar is the sticky substance in cigarettes that makes them so dangerous to your health. Do your body a favor and stop holding your smoke longer than necessary.


Getting higher isn't rocket science. It's simple. Here are a few ways you can get a stronger buzz:

  • Take more total puffs but don't try to breathe so deep you bust a lung. And, don't hold your breath. This way, you'll pass more total smoke and more THC through your system in the same amount of time.
  • Smoke something stronger. Either lace your regular weed with kief or try dabbing. Concentrates have way more THC per hit than dried flowers.
  • Eat a mango. That's right - a mango. This tropical fruit contains myrcene, a terpene that's also found in some strains of marijuana. This aromatic chemical enhances THC and helps it get you higher. Plus, they're delicious!


If you stop fighting your natural impulse to breathe after every toke, not only will you enjoy the entire experience way more, you'll may get quite a bit higher and protect your lungs in the process. Go enjoy a bowl or a blunt and let us know how it works out for you.

Max Sargent
Max Sargent

Max has been writing about cannabis and psychedelics for several years now. With a strong belief that an open, honest attitude toward drugs and drug policy can improve the lives of many, he seeks to offer insightful and developed opinions on the subject.