A few weeks ago we were all hanging out in my apartment when my friend got way too high. I think he had an edible before he showed up and then took a bunch of bong rips. However, instead of just passing out and falling asleep, he freaked the fuck out. It lasted for a while, and I really don't want to experience that again. He promises that it won't, but just in case, what the hell do you do when your friend gets way too high?
— Freaked Out Friend
First, take a deep breath. Now take another.
While a bad high may be traumatic and unpleasant for the person experiencing it, it can also be incredibly frightening and distressing for those left to care for said person. I am so sorry you were put in that position, especially since rule #1 for marijuana (and any mind/body-altering substance, really) should be “handle your shit." I am glad, however, for your friend’s sake, that he had you there to take care of him.
Before we get into how to help a buddy who has gone down too deep, let’s dispel two important myths that might help calm everyone down:
1. You cannot overdose on marijuana. Unlike other things, there have been no reported cases of someone OD’ing from too much cannabis. And in fact, it isn't even possible to die from a marijuana overdose. Studies show that someone would have to take 40,000 times the normal amount of cannabis in order to die. But, you would fall asleep way before you even got to a fraction of that.
2. The bad high won’t last forever. Despite random urban legends (like the one that used to go around my high school back in the day about the kid who got so high he woke up the next morning and thought he was a glass of orange juice and wouldn’t sit down for fear of spilling himself), you — or your friend — won’t be high forever. While it might feel scary in the moment, rest assured that it will eventually end. It obviously depends on how much of and in what form of cannabis is consumed, but the average high lasts about 2-3 hours if you inhaled, and 4-6 hours if you ingested.
So now that you know nothing severe will actually happen to you or your friend, let's take a look at a few things you can do to help make a bad high less unpleasant for everyone. First, make everyone as comfortable as possible. If you're able to separate the person experiencing a bad high from everyone else, do that, but don't leave them alone. Make sure someone is with them at all times. If that feels like too much responsibility, break it up into shifts between people. And remember, it will only last a few hours — you can do this!
Remind yourself or your friend that they will be okay and that these feelings won't last forever.
Then, 15 minutes later, remind them again. Ask if they'd like to get comfortable. You could even suggest a warm bath. Sometimes taking a hot shower or bath can help them focus on something else (like the feel of the water on their skin), allowing them to relax. If you feel up to it, and they are willing, give them a massage (and once they are sober, remind them that they owe you one).
And, if you're looking for an actual "cure," there are also those who think that lemons can help bring you down from an intense high. While it hasn't been scientifically proven, making sure your friend has a little lemonade (or nibbles on some lemon peel!), can't hurt, and may even help pull them out of their heads. At worst, all the vitamin C will at least cure potential scurvy.
Good luck, FOF, and fingers crossed that you never actually need this advice in the future!