Marijuana is one of the most common psychotropic drugs in the country. Prolonged use of marijuana can result in withdrawal symptoms when a person decides to stop using the drug. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and include both physical and psychological symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about marijuana withdrawal, the timeline for withdrawal, and how to manage symptoms.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the name for dried leaves, stems, flowers, or seeds from Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plant. Within the plant is a mind-altering chemical known as THC, and marijuana is used as a psychotropic drug. After alcohol, it is the most used psychotropic drug in America.
Many states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and the drug is sometimes used to treat conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. However, recreational marijuana use continues to be illegal in many states. Marijuana can be smoked in cigarettes, pipes, or bongs. It can also be mixed into food or brewed as tea.
Marijuana impacts the brain in both the short and long term. Using the drug can have fast effects, including altering the senses, changing a person’s mood, impairing memory, and impairing body movement. When used for long periods of time, marijuana can impair a person’s ability to think, remember, and learn.
It is possible for those who use marijuana to develop a substance use disorder. Teenager who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are more likely than adults to develop a substance use disorder for marijuana.
There is a common misconception that marijuana is harmless. Use of the drug for medical or recreational purposes has been legalized in several states, creating a reputation that the drug is “safe.” However, marijuana addiction is possible and a marijuana use disorder can greatly impact a person’s life. Keep reading to learn more about marijuana addiction, signs of an addiction, and available treatment options.
Is marijuana addictive?
Many people ask, “Can you get addicted to marijuana?” With marijuana approved for medical use in many states and recreational use in others, some believe that marijuana is a “safe” drug that does not lead to addiction. Unfortunately, marijuana can be addictive.
Those who use marijuana can develop problem use or a marijuana use disorder. These disorders can lead to dependence, and an individual can experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug. The brain adapts when a person uses large amounts of marijuana or uses the drug frequently, and the production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters is reduced. When the drug is taken away, the brain must once again adapt.
Is marijuana physically addictive?
Marijuana can be physically addictive. Marijuana use disorders can lead to addiction, which occurs when an individual continues to use the drug despite how it interferes with their life. Withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using marijuana show the physically addictive aspects of the drug.
Addictive Qualities of Marijuana
There are multiple factors that contribute to the potential addictiveness of marijuana. The effect of THC on the brain and marijuana potency can lead to an individual developing a tolerance for the drug.
THC impacts the reward center of the brain, causing dopamine to be released. As the pleasure hormone, this neurotransmitter regulates reward, self-control, and motivation. The effect of using marijuana is often pleasurable.
Marijuana has also been used to reduce chronic pain and relieve anxiety or depression. Individuals may start using the drug to combat symptoms of an illness, even using medical marijuana, and develop a dependence over time. When a tolerance is built, more of the drug is required to receive the same effects.
According to the NIDA, marijuana available today is a much higher potency than previous years. The average amount of THC in marijuana confiscated by law enforcement is 9.6%. In the 1990s, the average amount was much less at 3.7% of THC. Products made from marijuana extract can have 50% to 80% THC.
Marijuana Addiction Symptoms
Individuals addicted to marijuana display many of the common symptoms of addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), provides a list of symptoms for marijuana or cannabis dependence. An individual who displays at least two of the symptoms within a 12-month period may be using marijuana in a problematic way. Symptoms of marijuana dependence or addiction can include:
- Using the drug in larger amounts than intended and using the drug for a longer period than intended
- Attempting to cut back or thinking about cutting back or stopping marijuana use without success
- Dedicating considerable time to seeking marijuana, using the drug, and recovering from its effects
- Craving marijuana
- An inability to complete important tasks due to using the drug often and being intoxicated by it
- Continuing to use marijuana even if it causes social problems or relationship issues and/or even if an individual has developed a physical or psychological problem related to using marijuana
- Stopping activities an individual used to enjoy to use marijuana
- Using marijuana in situations that are potentially hazardous or dangerous
- Developing a tolerance for marijuana, which requires more of the drug to achieve the same effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using marijuana or cannot access the drug
If you suspect you may have a marijuana use disorder, dependence on marijuana, or an addiction, it is crucial to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Marijuana use or possession may be illegal in some states, but it is not illegal to seek guidance and treatment for marijuana dependence or addiction.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
The symptoms of marijuana addiction may not be obvious at first. Individuals often wonder whether they or a loved one is addicted to marijuana. Casual or recreational use of marijuana can morph into a marijuana use disorder or addiction, but the shift may be difficult to recognize.
Recognizing the signs of marijuana addiction can help a person seek treatment sooner rather than later. Some of the more noticeable outward signs of marijuana addiction include:
- Changes in mood that are extreme
- Changes in an individual’s outlook
- Changes in how an individual interprets what happens around them
- Changes in an individual’s self-image and how they think about themselves or other people
- Increasing paranoia, thinking other people might be watching the individual or plotting against them
Some of these effects may be temporary, however using marijuana can lead to psychosis, a serious mental health problem. It is possible to treat psychosis, but it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Marijuana Addiction Facts
Marijuana addiction is not as common or prevalent as addiction to other substances. The majority of people who use marijuana are able to control how much they use and when they use the drug. They are often able to receive the results they expect from using the drug.
However, marijuana addiction is possible. The NIDA reported that people who start using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than individuals who start using marijuana after the age of 18. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people that start using the drug before 18, the chances of addiction are 1 in 6.
The NIDA also estimates that about 30% of people who use marijuana will develop a marijuana use disorder. In 2015, 4 million people were estimated to have a marijuana use disorder, including dependence. Marijuana use disorders can lead to addiction among some marijuana users.
Who becomes addicted to marijuana?
Studies have found that genes may predict the development of an addiction. This makes it difficult to determine who will develop a marijuana addiction and who will not, especially if family history is unknown. Some studies have also found that responsibility skills and the ability to temper behavior can impact whether or not an individual develops an addiction. Environmental causes, mental health conditions, and other available options are also considered factors in the development of addiction.
Marijuana Addiction Help
It is possible to treat marijuana addiction and get help to continue your recovery. It is important to speak to your doctor if you are worried about your marijuana use. Your doctor can properly examine your situation and determine if you have a marijuana use disorder or marijuana addiction. From there, you can work together to develop to right treatment plan for you.
Again, it is important to remember that seeking help or treatment for marijuana addiction is not illegal, even if the drug is illegal in your state. You can contact helplines, visit your doctor, or enter a treatment facility without fear of legal repercussions.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
If the long-term use of marijuana has led to addiction or dependence, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable. The physical, mental, and emotional effects of withdrawal can pose a challenge to the detox and recovery process. Seeking medical help can provide the support needed to safely withdrawal from marijuana and continue your recovery.
There are a variety of options for marijuana addiction treatment. Therapy is a common treatment for marijuana addiction, helping individuals cope with their triggers and identify tempting situations to use marijuana. Individuals can enter a marijuana addiction program for a comprehensive treatment plan, including therapy, support groups, and helpful resources. Both inpatient and outpatient programs are available across the country for marijuana addiction treatment.
Drugs Used to Treat Marijuana Addiction
There are not any drugs approved by the FDA to treat marijuana addiction at this time. A doctor can help prescribe medication to treat withdrawal symptoms if necessary, including sleep problems and stomach problems. Managing symptoms of withdrawal can help individuals stay committed to detox and recovery.
How to Deal with Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana addiction is difficult to overcome, but recovery is possible. Dealing with marijuana addiction usually involves a reality check when an individual recognizes a problem with their drug use. The individual must also be willing to stop using the drug and commit to recovery.
It is also important to remember that recovery is not necessarily linear. For some, getting sober may take months or years. The struggle could continue for a lifetime due to the complex effects of the drug. Remaining patient and focused through challenges can help people stay on the path towards recovery.
Joining a support group, seeking medical help, and seeing a therapist can help people deal with marijuana addiction. Addressing the physical, psychological, and environmental triggers for marijuana use can help individuals make better informed decisions in the future and stay sober.
Some believe that marijuana is not addictive. However, that is a misconception. Users can become addicted to marijuana, which poses health challenges. Marijuana withdrawal can occur if someone who used marijuana for a long time suddenly stops using the drug. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can make it difficult for a person to stop using the drug
What is marijuana withdrawal?
Marijuana withdrawal typically does not occur for those who only use the drug a handful of times. People who regularly smoke marijuana are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal vary for every person, and they can be mild or more severe. Those who used marijuana for a longer period of time are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms than those who did not. Common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- Changes in mood
- Irritability or anger
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Vivid dreams
- Lack of focus (concentration)
- Lack of appetite
- Digestive problems
- Repressed sex drive
Marijuana Withdrawal & Anxiety
Those who smoked marijuana daily are more likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety. Some report feeling on edge and irritable during withdrawal. Marijuana can increase anxiety and paranoia for users, and those symptoms may continue into withdrawal. However, they are part of the withdrawal process and will likely subside in a week or two.
Marijuana Withdrawal & Headaches
Intense headaches can occur within the first few days of quitting. Headaches do not occur for everyone who stops using marijuana, but they can be very uncomfortable. The symptom typically fades within a week or two. Some former marijuana smokers reported headaches for several weeks, though.
Nausea from Marijuana Withdrawal
Some may experience nausea as part of marijuana withdrawal. Symptoms depend on the frequency of marijuana use and the amount of the drug used before someone quit. Stomach issues, including nausea, stomach pain, weight changes, and flu-like symptoms are common.
Marijuana Withdrawal & Vomiting
Persistent marijuana usage can contribute to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. Symptoms of CHS include cyclic vomiting, but the issue goes away when an individual stops using marijuana. While nausea and stomach pain are common marijuana withdrawal symptoms, vomiting is not typical. If you experience vomiting during marijuana withdrawal, seek medical treatment for guidance.
Marijuana Withdrawal & Depression
Individuals who stop using marijuana after extended use, may find themselves feeling persistently sad and lacking interest in daily activities. For some, depression can occur during withdrawal as a person considers their potentially destructive life choices. These feelings are a normal part of the withdrawal process and tend to improve within a week or two.
However, if symptoms of depression continue for several weeks or impact an individual’s life, it is important to seek help from a doctor or mental health professional. Some people may have had depression before using marijuana, and the symptoms can reoccur after quitting. These symptoms are treatable with mental health and drug counseling services.
Signs of Marijuana Withdrawal
Marijuana withdrawal can affect each person differently. There are some common signs of marijuana withdrawal that make it more recognizable, including irritability, cravings, and difficulty sleeping.
Many people may not realize they are addicted to marijuana and have a substance abuse disorder. When they stop using the drug, they can experience unexpected cravings for marijuana, especially in the first days after quitting.
Irritability is another hallmark of marijuana withdrawal. Some people may experience mild irritability and annoyance, while others can suffer from excessive anger or aggression. These symptoms tend to last for a week after the last use of marijuana.
Finally, sleep disruptions are common for marijuana withdrawal. Insomnia, vivid dreams, and night sweats can occur when someone stops smoking marijuana. People may even have dreams that they smoke marijuana. These symptoms can last for a week or up to a month before improving.
Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can begin within a week of the last use of the drug. The severity of symptoms depends on how much marijuana was used and how long the drug was used.
Within 10 days after quitting, symptoms peak. A person is likely the most uncomfortable during this time as symptoms of marijuana withdrawal reach their worst. Between 10 and 20 days, symptoms will decline. For some, symptoms may linger for several weeks or months.
The relapse rate for marijuana use is very high because withdrawal symptoms go away when someone starts using the drug again. However, marijuana usage can become worse if a person quits and begins smoking again. It is important to remember that marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening and will subside over time.
Marijuana Withdrawal Effects
While uncomfortable, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not considered dangerous or life-threatening. The symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana are not as severe as withdrawal symptoms for substances like alcohol, opioids, or heroin.
Marijuana withdrawal can impact a person physically and psychologically. The body adjusts to regular usage of THC, a psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. Over time, the brain builds up a tolerance to the substance. If the brain depends on THC, it must adjust again when the substance is no longer present.
For some, the effects of marijuana withdrawal are very unpleasant. The experience of withdrawal can lead some to choose to smoke again in order to find relief. However, if an individual is committed to quitting, they can find considerable help and support from their doctor, support groups, and mental health professionals to manage the symptoms of
Marijuana Withdrawal Treatment
Seeking medical treatment can help with the marijuana withdrawal process considerably. Medications currently do not exist that are approved to treat marijuana withdrawal, but a doctor can help manage the symptoms of withdrawal. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help with sleep problems, headaches, anxiety, and irritability.
Medical detox facilities are recommended for those with co-occurring disorders, like addictions to other substances. Resources are also available to help an individual through the withdrawal and recovery process. Mental health professionals can address changes in mood, anxiety, and depression. Support groups and counseling can help support a person’s decision to quit and reduce the chance of relapse.
FAQs About Marijuana Withdrawal
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, and most would prefer to avoid them. Quitting marijuana is often a difficult decision, and individuals have a lot of questions about the process. Some frequently asked questions about marijuana withdrawal are below.
Yes, you can experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using weed. Those who smoke marijuana in high levels or for an extended period of time are more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
Marijuana withdrawal does have physical symptoms. Headaches, stomach pain, nausea, sweating, and chills are common physical withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using weed.
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include both physical and psychological symptoms. Irritability, headaches, cravings difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, and nausea are common withdrawal symptoms of marijuana.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can be managed with proper medical care. A doctor can prescribe medications to treat symptoms of withdrawal, and mental health professionals can provide support for someone who decides to quit smoking weed.
Marijuana withdrawal is very uncomfortable. The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are unpleasant, but they are not deadly. For some, the symptoms may mimic those of the flu, including aches, stomach issues, and headaches. The severity of marijuana withdrawal symptoms depends on an individual’s history with the drug.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms tend to peak within 10 days and improve within two weeks. Some people may experience symptoms for multiple weeks, depending on the severity of their substance abuse disorder.