Substance Use

Marijuana Withdrawal

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

marijuana joint buds and leaves

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment Options

Marijuana is becoming more widely acceptable in the US. Although many people perceive the drug to be relatively harmless, regular use can become problematic. Marijuana use can quickly become marijuana abuse, affecting various areas of a user’s life. Those that abuse marijuana may feel as if the drug has a level of control over their life. Some people will also experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop using. The severity of these symptoms can be different for everyone. Some people may experience very severe marijuana withdrawal symptoms, while others may not experience any at all.

Most people that use marijuana daily or almost daily for an extended period will experience some level of withdrawal. If you think you may have a marijuana addiction and want to quit, it’s good to stop in a safe and supportive environment. If you have concerns over a loved one’s marijuana withdrawal or your own use and you are considering quitting, then read on for more information. You’ll learn all you need to know about what to expect. If you are currently withdrawing from marijuana, you may also find this information helpful.

What Are the Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from any substance can be difficult. Anyone who stops taking a substance they have developed a tolerance and an addiction to can experience adverse symptoms when they stop consuming it. This is because the body and brain become dependent on the substance, and chemical imbalances can happen when it’s taken away. Withdrawal symptoms can be physical or psychological, depending on the substance. Marijuana isn’t as physically addictive as other drugs like alcohol or heroin, so the physical withdrawal symptoms can be milder. However, marijuana addiction does exist, and many addicts will experience some marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue use, whether physical or psychological.

It’s important to remember that the psychological side of addiction is often more challenging to recover from. Although physical withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and uncomfortable, many addicts require ongoing treatment to recover from the psychological hold substances have on them. Addiction is a complicated issue. A user’s addiction to a substance can be intertwined into many aspects of their life. Physically detoxing from the substance is just the first step to recovery.

Although the symptoms can vary depending on the severity of dependency and individual factors, some common symptoms are associated with marijuana withdrawal. People with an addiction to the drug will usually begin to experience symptoms within one week of discontinued marijuana use. Individuals may experience anxiety or feel extraordinarily nervous and “on edge.” Problems with sleep are also common. This can mean experiencing insomnia or having unsettling dreams, nightmares, or terrors. These are just two common marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Others may include:

  • Feeling very angry or irritable. Some people may act aggressively or experience mood swings
  • Decreased appetite. May also result in substantial weight loss
  • Beginning to feel depressed and experiencing symptoms relating to depression
  • Pain in the stomach, which can lead to constipation or diarrhea
  • Shaking or tremors that are uncontrollable
  • A high body temperature and fever-related symptoms, such as chills or sweating
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Feeling very restless and finding it difficult to keep still or relax
  • Intense marijuana cravings

Although these marijuana withdrawal symptoms can cause discomfort and distress, it’s important to remember that they are temporary. Some people may also only experience these symptoms mildly, while others may experience them more severely. Unfortunately, withdrawal from a substance is a normal part of detoxing and the steps towards sobriety. There are several ways to alleviate some of the marijuana withdrawal symptoms. For example, for sleep-related problems, implementing a regular time to go to bed and wake up each day can be helpful. In addition, self-care before bed, such as a relaxing bath, can help.

A marijuana addict that drinks caffeinated drinks regularly may experience the stimulant effects from caffeine more severely. These can heighten anxiety-related symptoms and may be more prominent without the sedating effects that marijuana usually provides to the user. For marijuana withdrawal symptoms relating to anxiety and feelings of restlessness, taking deep breaths, performing breathing exercises, and avoiding caffeine is a good idea.

A range of prescriptions medication can also help to ease marijuana withdrawal symptoms. These include medication that may help with sleep problems and SSRIs that can help alleviate anxiety and depression that may come with withdrawal. Medical professionals should prescribe these medications. There is currently no approved medication explicitly prescribed for marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Physicians may, however, prescribe medications as a form of symptom management, such as mental health problems or sleep difficulties.

What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal?

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are often not as severe as those associated with other substances. Withdrawing from alcohol or opioids can be very dangerous and requires significant medical intervention to be done safely. However, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are caused by the same thing in principle. In simple terms, the cause of marijuana withdrawal symptoms is just the body and brain adapting to functioning without the substance. The body will be craving the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana known as THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and trying to adjust to life without it. Over time, the brain can develop a tolerance to THC, which often means the user consumes more of the drug to feel the same effects. This is when a dependency on the drug can begin to grow, and the individual may develop an addiction.

Developing a tolerance to a substance can quickly lead to an addiction. This is because a user will usually increase the amount of marijuana they consume. This means that the brain begins to depend on a greater THC supply. When this happens, discontinuing use or even reducing THC consumption can lead to marijuana withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts and craves the substance. Sometimes, marijuana withdrawal symptoms will be so unpleasant that users will start smoking marijuana again to relieve them. As a rule, the more marijuana an addict smokes regularly, the greater the withdrawal symptoms are. However, this isn’t always the case, and the severity of marijuana withdrawal symptoms can depend on the individual.

Reducing Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s always best to discuss tackling an addiction with substance abuse professionals first. You can reduce the severity of symptoms by taking certain self-help steps before quitting marijuana, but these may not work for everyone. The first 24-72 hours can be challenging for many addicts, so the following measures can help:

  • Staying hydrated, eating healthy fresh foods
  • Exercising, which can help remove toxins from the body through sweat while also increasing dopamine levels naturally
  • Finding support through friends, family members, or professionals

Before quitting marijuana, it’s a good idea to gradually taper the amount you consume if you are a heavy user. Slowly reducing marijuana use can allow the brain to get used to life without THC gradually. Tapering may not be required for all users. Occasional marijuana users may stop without any reduction in use and experience minimal withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Marijuana Withdrawal Take?

Not all individuals will experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms, and each person may experience withdrawal differently. However, for those that do, withdrawal usually follows a particular timeline:

  • For most people, symptoms will usually begin within a week of discontinuing use.
  • Usually, symptoms will peak within ten days after discontinuation. This means individuals will usually feel the most severe symptoms within the first ten days.
  • After day 10, withdrawal usually does get easier, but many addicts can struggle to cope with these symptoms and begin smoking marijuana again to resolve these.
  • After the peak of symptoms, most people will start to feel better. Symptoms usually decline in severity within 10-20 days.

If the user begins to consume marijuana again to relieve symptoms, they will need to restart the detox. They will also risk experiencing negative symptoms associated with use if their tolerance has begun to decline during the initial detox. Many users who relapse believe they will be able to consume the same amount of a substance that they would usually use before they discontinued. However, tolerance to substances can quickly decrease.

The amount of time someone will experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms will usually depend on the severity of their dependence on the drug. Additionally, if the user has smoked marijuana for many years, they may find withdrawal symptoms will last much longer than expected. Sometimes, people can experience withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, mood swings, depression, or anxiety for weeks, months, or years after discontinuing use. It’s important to remember that this isn’t always the case, and most people will begin to feel better within a much shorter timeframe.

Relapse

The time it can take for withdrawal symptoms to subside depends on whether the user relapses. Relapse rates are high for addicts, and relapse can result in a more severe addiction than before. Even addicts that have been free of substance use for some time and believe that they have broken free from their addiction can quickly revert to old habits if they try to use the drug again casually. Relapsing risks developing an addiction to the substance quicker than the user did initially and can mean they consume more of the drug than previously. The chance of relapsing can reduce if the addict uses professional help and support.

Although withdrawing from marijuana is unlikely to cause any life-threatening symptoms, addicts may make poor decisions when withdrawing, which could lead to life-threatening situations. Depression and suicidal thoughts may also occur during the withdrawal process, putting addicts at risk of harm. Therefore, it’s best to discontinue use under the supervision of medical professionals.

How to Safely Manage a Marijuana Detox

Detoxing from marijuana isn’t considered as dangerous as detoxing from other substances. However, it can be beneficial to seek professional help and support to ensure safety and success. Addiction professionals understand the complexities of addiction and preventing relapse. It’s also important to remember that detoxing is just the first step of recovery. For many people with addictions, the psychological impact their substance use has can be substantial. This is where professional help and support can help to manage a detox and recovery journey safely. Many addicts require therapy to deal with the psychological side of their addiction. This can be helpful for anyone experiencing mental health issues as part of marijuana withdrawal symptoms. 

Although most people will not require substantial medical intervention, assistance from professionals can be helpful for those that find their addiction taking over many aspects of their life. Some people may wish to attend a detoxification center specifically designed to support people through the detox phase of their recovery. A detoxification center provides the support and medical attention needed depending on each individual’s experience. Detox programs at detoxification centers offer short-term support. For those that require further support, inpatient and outpatient programs can be a good solution. These programs focus on the detox stage and support the addict through additional treatment that they may need to combat their addiction.

Ready to Quit Marijuana?

Marijuana is a drug that many people abuse, but recognizing you have a problem is the first step in becoming drug-free. If you think that your marijuana use is problematic, you may have an addiction. The level of support you require is up to you, but we’re here to help when you’re ready. If you want to learn more about the support we can offer, do not hesitate to email us for more information.