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What is Shatter? Understanding the Popular Cannabis Concentrate

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 18.7% (or about 52.5 million people) reported using cannabis in the past 12 months.”[1]

While most people who abuse cannabis smoke it in plant form, there are several different marijuana products that people misuse. Some of the popular byproducts of cannabis are referred to as concentrates. “Concentrate” is a broad term that encompasses any product that is extracted from the marijuana plant.[2]

Shatter is a type of cannabis concentrate that is translucent in appearance but solid in form, and it gets its name because it has a glass-like appearance. People who abuse shatter typically use a special rig to vaporize the substance, however, some may mix it in with dried marijuana in a pipe or joint.

If you or a loved one abuse cannabis concentrates like shatter, it’s important to be aware of what it is and how it can affect you.

How is Shatter Made?

Shatter is made by extracting tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the marijuana plant. People who make shatter use solvents like butane to separate cannabinoids from the plant. Once it is extracted, the THC is heated to remove any leftover solvent, producing a hard sheet of concentrated cannabinoids.

The reason this substance is called “shatter” is because the hardened sheets can be easily broken into little pieces like glass.

There are many different cannabis concentrates. The only difference is their appearance, texture, and level of solvents left over in the final product.

Different types of concentrates may appear as:[2]

  • a gooey liquid wax (usually referred to as wax)
  • a soft solid with a texture like lip balm (often called “budder”)
  • a hard, amber-colored solid (shatter)

What are the Side Effects of Shatter?

While the strongest available marijuana in plant form usually only contains 30% THC, concentrates like shatter may be up to 80% THC.[2] This means that shatter is exponentially more potent than the original forms of cannabis.

Shatter can produce similar effects as cannabis, but on a more intense level, including:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Increased hunger

However, because of the potency, the adverse side effects of marijuana use are more likely to occur. These effects may include:

  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sore throat
  • Airway pain that causes narrowing and spasms
  • Coughing fits that lead to vomiting
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Hallucinations (mainly auditory)
  • Respiratory issues like bronchitis
  • Worsening preexisting mental health conditions
  • Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “contaminants in concentrate products may be cause for concern. One study noted that 80% of tested concentrate samples were contaminated in some form, not only with pesticides (which is also a concern for dried bud), but also with residual solvents that were not fully purged in the manufacturing process.”[2]

Because concentrates are relatively new, there is not much research on the long-term effects of shatter abuse. However, it is important to note that regularly consuming the solvents found in shatter can lead to adverse effects and health conditions.

Can You Get Addicted to Shatter?

While many people view marijuana as a safe substance to use, it is known to be habit-forming. Because dried marijuana is less potent than concentrates like shatter, you are more likely to develop an addiction when you abuse this form of THC.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug by reducing the production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.”[3]

If you are worried that you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to shatter, look out for the following signs:

  • Using shatter more often than intended or in larger amounts
  • Being unable to stop or cut back on shatter use
  • Spending a lot of time using, obtaining, and thinking about shatter
  • Experiencing cravings or urges to use shatter
  • Continuing to abuse the substance despite facing issues at work, school, or home
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you cannot abuse shatter
  • Experiencing worsening mental or physical health symptoms as a result of shatter abuse but continuing to use it

Addiction to any marijuana product can result in withdrawal symptoms. While these symptoms are not life-threatening, they can be extremely psychologically distressing. You should always attend medical detox and addiction rehab to overcome an addiction to shatter or any other cannabis substance.

Finding Help for Shatter Abuse and Addiction

Shatter is a potent form of marijuana that can lead to respiratory issues, worsened mental health conditions, and even withdrawal symptoms. If you or a loved one frequently abuse marijuana concentrates, you should seek help from a professional drug rehab program.

At Carolina Center for Recovery, we prioritize the needs of every client by creating an individualized treatment plan. You can rest assured that every one of your unique needs will be addressed during treatment.

To learn more about our addiction treatment programs, contact us today.