When you regularly use many substances, whether or not you feel you are dependent on them, and you suddenly stop using it, you will go through withdrawal.
Withdrawal is the way your body and mind respond to sudden changes when you stop using a substance. This could include something as simple as sugar! If you’ve ever tried to kick a sugar habit, you may recall experiencing headaches and cravings for sweets.
Same goes for when you regularly use marijuana — when you stop using it, your body goes through withdrawal symptoms. The intensity, frequency and length of your symptoms depend on:
- How much you use
- How long you’ve been using
- What you use (strengths and blends for example)
- Your age
- Your overall health
So, yes, you can experience withdrawal from weed, and it can be uncomfortable.
Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms
Although cannabis may not be as addictive as drugs like opioids, heroin, alcohol and other drugs, it can be difficult to stop. As the saying goes, the most difficult substance use disorder to kick is the one you’re suffering from; don’t try to compare it.
If you or someone you care about is addicted to marijuana or if you are having a hard time stopping it, it’s OK to ask for help. Our counselors are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions, and your conversation will be confidential.
The most common withdrawal symptoms from cannabis, marijuana or weed are sleep disruptions, sweats, headaches, irritability. Symptoms typically show up within 24 hours, peak within a week to 10 days and then start to taper off, although some symptoms like depression, lethargy and mood swings can last for weeks and even longer if they aren’t treated properly. Working with a mental health provider or medical doctor who is trained in addiction and recovery is important during this time, because they can help ease the side effects and lessen the length of time to transition to recovery.
Cannabis withdrawal symptom 1: Dreams, insomnia, sleep disruption
Some people who experience withdrawal symptoms from stopping the use of cannabis have reported vivid and disturbing dreams and nightmares. You might also experience difficulty sleeping or restlessness at night. Your doctor might recommend regular daily exercise, such as walking, swimming or bicycling, to help reset your body’s sleep cycle.
Cannabis withdrawal symptom 2: Sweating, night sweats
Night sweats are common when you are detoxing from cannabis and other drugs. It’s your body’s way of clearing out the toxins. Your doctor might recommend avoiding caffeine, which can make your symptoms worse during this time. It’s important to follow a healthy well-balanced diet, drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids and get rest during this time.
Cannabis withdrawal symptom 3: Headaches
Headaches are a common withdrawal symptom, especially in the first couple of days. If you are under the care of an addiction specialist while you are detoxing from marijuana, they will likely recommend over-the-counter medications to help with the headaches. You might also try cold compresses, drinking lots of liquids and rest.
Cannabis withdrawal symptom 4: Irritability, nervousness, anger
Some people who use marijuana daily and then stop using it may experience mood changes like irritability, nervousness and anger. Again, regular exercise, a well-balanced diet and rest will help ease these feelings. You might also try meditation and breathing exercises, talk therapy with a counselor, and group therapy or recovery.
Heavy marijuana use withdrawal symptoms
Heavy weed use is typically classified as one or more doses daily, while light use is occasional use, like once a month — so you can see there is a wide difference between “light” and “heavy” marijuana use. Regardless, the more you use, the more severe your withdrawal symptoms will be when you stop.
How to Get Through Marijuana Withdrawal
There’s been a decades-long debate about whether cannabis is addictive and, therefore, whether withdrawal symptoms are real. The bottom line is, if you’ve been using marijuana and you stopped and you experienced side effects that we’ve described here, you likely have cannabis withdrawal syndrome. It’s a real thing, and it’s been backed by science.
To lessen withdrawal symptoms or shorten the length of time your body needs to reset and adjust to not using marijuana, your health care provider or recovery team may recommend:
- Medically supervised detoxification
- Group therapy
- Individual counseling
- Regular daily exercise
- A well-balanced, nutritious diet
- Meditation, breathing exercises
Cornerstone of Southern California has been helping people with a number of substance use disorders, addictions, and dependencies for over 30 years. Many of our staff have been through the addiction and recovery process themselves, and they’re standing by to talk to you. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.