While marijuana is often viewed as a more benign drug, it is addiction, and it can result in physical dependence. As with other drugs, people can develop a tolerance to marijuana, finding they need to use more and more of it to obtain the same effects they used to get with smaller doses.
As people become dependent on pot, they may feel they have to use it just to feel normal. Not everyone who starts using marijuana becomes dependent on it, however. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9 percent of people who abuse marijuana will become dependent on it eventually.
If a person is addicted to marijuana, commonly referred to as suffering from a marijuana use disorder, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are generally mild, though uncomfortable.
The Detox Process from Marijuana
Once a person decides to stop using marijuana, withdrawal symptoms may kick in on the first day following cessation of use, according to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. At first, they may begin to feel uncomfortable as their body begins missing the presence of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Reduced appetite
- Feeling irritable
- Strange dreams
- Sleep issues
Marijuana Anonymous states that additional physical withdrawal symptoms may occur, including:
- Headaches (more intense at the beginning of withdrawal)
- Night sweats
- Ridding the body of phlegm (coughing productively)
- Uncomfortable digestion issues, such as cramping, nausea, and sometimes vomiting
- Body tremors
- Kidney pain
- Minor eye issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal imbalances
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Uneven emotions
- Loss of sense of humor
- Concentration issues
Some who struggle with marijuana addiction may feel body aches and overall muscular pain when attempting to quit. According to ABC News, the symptoms are similar to those experienced by people who quit smoking cigarettes.
Is Treatment Needed?
Marijuana works on the brain just as it works on the body. Once a person stops using it, their brain will continue to want the presence of the drug. As a result, the psychological symptoms mentioned can be severe in some instances. Users may experience depression, anxiety, and mood swings after ceasing use, according to Psychology Today.
These psychological withdrawal symptoms can be just as troubling as physical symptoms. As a result, comprehensive addiction treatment is needed to cope with the anxiety, mood fluctuations, and depression commonly associated with marijuana withdrawal. With proper treatment, individuals can find stability in their newfound recovery.
Depending on how long a person has been using marijuana, withdrawal symptoms may be mild or more intense. If withdrawal symptoms are intense, they may cause the person to begin using pot again. While medical detox may not be necessary for marijuana withdrawal, the support provided by 24-hour care can help to prevent relapse during the detox process.
General Length of Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms often begin on the first day of abstinence from marijuana. According to the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (Australia), withdrawal symptoms become the most intense on the second and third days, and then begin to decrease over the following days. Sleep disturbances may continue for weeks or even months.
Specific withdrawal timelines vary between people and are dependent on various factors, such as the presence of any co-occurring mental health issues, polydrug abuse, and length and severity of addiction. For most people, however, withdrawal takes 5-7 days.
Since sleep issues may extend beyond the typical withdrawal timeline, it’s important that individuals engage good sleep hygiene following withdrawal. Habits that promote healthy sleep include:
- Maintaining a good sleep environment (e.g., dark, cool, etc.)
- Avoiding all forms of caffeine after noon
- Avoiding alcohol and other drugs
- Exercising every day in the morning hours
- Avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, such as the use of electronic devices
To date, there are no medications that can be taken to address withdrawal from marijuana. Generally, therapy is the backbone of any marijuana addiction treatment program.
THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, lodges itself in the body’s fat cells. It takes longer for all traces of the drug to clear the person’s system and stop affecting them because of this. This means that, if ordered to take a drug test, a person may test positive even if they haven’t used the drug for up to two months.