Drugs & Health Blog

Marijuana Withdrawal Is Real

The NIDA Blog Team

On this blog, we often get comments from people claiming that marijuana isn’t addictive. A lot of people seem to think marijuana is different from other drugs. Unfortunately, it’s not the case: Just like with other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), you can get addicted to marijuana—especially if you use it during your teen years.

Dependence vs. Addiction

Drug "dependence" means needing a drug to feel physically okay. If a person is dependent on a drug, having enough of a supply is always important to them. However, being dependent doesn’t necessarily mean they’re addicted. For example, many people can be dependent on a medication prescribed by their doctor without being addicted to it.

The difference is that people who are addicted start to think about the drug all the time and make it a larger priority than other things in their life. They often make bad decisions that work against their health and their overall well-being. In the case of a medication, they may start to abuse it (use it differently than how the doctor prescribed): taking more of it, or crushing it and injecting it. Or in the case of a drug like marijuana, they'll be unable to stop using it even though it's causing problems with school, a job, or relationships. People with an addiction are often unable to see—or admit—that this is happening.

That Bad Feeling …

… is called withdrawal. A person with drug dependence will experience withdrawal if they completely stop using the drug all at once. Withdrawal is what leads a lot of people who are addicted to a drug to relapse—meaning, they've tried to quit, but they start taking the drug again.

A new study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine shows that teens who use marijuana heavily can experience withdrawal when they stop using it. In a study of teens receiving drug abuse treatment at an outpatient clinic, nearly half of them (40 percent) experienced symptoms of withdrawal when they stopped using marijuana.

Not Just a Crummy Day

From portrayals in movies and on TV of people addicted to heroin, people have an image of drug withdrawal as sweating, shaking, and being curled up in bed with unbearable pain. Marijuana withdrawal is a lot more subtle, but every bit as real.

The main mental symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Being irritable
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Feeling depressed
  • Being restless
  • Having trouble sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day
  • Having low appetite or losing weight

Some people having marijuana withdrawal might not realize it. Some of the symptoms just contribute to being in a lousy mood, and it’s often easy to blame that feeling on other people annoying you or just having a bad day. You can also have physical symptoms like:

  • Stomach pain
  • Sweatiness
  • Shakiness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

More Use = More Problems

The longer a person uses marijuana, the more likely they are to have withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t using it. In the Journal of Addiction Medicine study, teens who had marijuana withdrawal symptoms were more likely than other marijuana users to have problems like difficulties at school or at work or trouble with relationships or money. They were also more likely to have other signs of marijuana dependence and mood disorders like depression.

And teen users who suffer marijuana withdrawal are more likely to experience marijuana addiction than adults. One in six teens who try marijuana will get addicted to it, and that goes up to as many as one-half of teens who use it every day. 

If you’re worried you may have a problem with marijuana or any other drug, this page may help answer your questions and let you know what to do to get help.

Tell us in the comments: Do you know any regular marijuana users who stop using marijuana and experience the withdrawal symptoms described in this post?

To learn more about marijuana, check out the blog posts “Secondhand Marijuana Smoke?” and “What’s Wrong With ‘Medical Marijuana’?”

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Ha! I've been a daily marijuana smoker since 2006. Whenever I'm on vacation or decide to take a break, I might have a loss of appetite for 3 days, but then everything's back to normal. These "symptoms" are very minor, especially when compared to other drugs, nicotine and alcohol. I bet if they tested sugar or caffeine withdrawal in comparison, hands down marijuana "withdrawal" would be non-existent. Don't let the Reefer Madness people lie to you. That's why marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, according to the United Stated government... and they wouldn't lie to you :)
Have you ever gone longer than those breaks?
Yes, the longest I've gone without any marijuana has been just over 1 month. Again, I wasn't eating a lot for a couple of day, but still had my meals, just no snacks. I slept fine, went to work and felt no effects... Still went to the gym (I go to the gym 4 times a week). In the last 5 years, I've paid off a brand new car, paid back all my student loans, have no debt right now and still travel for pleasure all on a salary around $50k Canadian. The focus on marijuana is a scare tactic. Even when I speak to rational people, they still spout off nonsense their teachers or some politicians said when they were younger. It's amazing how brainwashed people have been. That's why I recommend listening to Dr. Carl Hart, an expert in the field of drugs. The devastating effects of prohibition has been far worse than the effects of marijuana. The wasted tax dollars on the justice system, prison, added police, and the cash cow for gangs. All for what? If anyone ever says marijuana is a "gateway" drug, tell them sugar is, or alcohol or tobacco... those are generally people's first drug.
you need help
Everyone's chemistry is different and addiction is heavily a thinking problem after you detox
Yes, everyone is different. someone can become addicted while another user that smokes the same amount doesn't have the issue
I've been smoking 16 years. I smoke a quarter a week by myself, I'm a addict. Let me tell you guys, cannabis withdrawals are real. When I quit, I get night sweats, stomach cramps, diarrhea, insomnia, appetite lose, body pains and depression. See I am honest about my relation to the drug and realize I do to much, but it defiantly has withdrawals. I quit about once a month for a week and experience the same symptoms everytime. If your not addicted then you don't smoke brought
I need help How did you quit? was it cold turkey?
I recently experienced something else. I've been a heavy smoker for the past year in a half. Tuesday January 26th, 2016 I went out to smoke before getting ready for work. I smoked a bowl, came back inside and jumped in the shower. All of a sudden I felt the left side of ny head going completely numb, i started panicking, trying to feel my head; get some sort of pulse. I felt like I was dying. I didnt even finish my shower and jumped out. I kept looking in the mirror at my skin and remember it being abnormally dry. I started my make-up for work and my skin was drying up my cover up, I thought I might be dehydrated so i started chugging water. I was helpless. I was watching my life from a second perspective as if I was dying and I had no control over it. As all of this was happening I was in tears and on my knees asking for forgiveness from God that I've been taking my life for granted. He blessed me with a healthy body, clean mind and a beautiful soul and here i was abusing it, thinking I need something more for some kind of a thrill. Since that day marijuana hasnt tempted me once. Yes, I've had dreams, insomnia, fever, horrible cold but I'm proud to say I will never turn back to it for help.
Happened to me too... I believe it was due to the combination of the weed and hot water from the shower..both can cause your blood pressure to drop. I would look into improving your diet..when it happened to me it literally felt like I was having a stroke( I may have idk) I like started to see Stuff in the water on the shower glass door ,realized something was wrong and like basically started to go numb and almost pass out. Didn't smoke for a while after that..every time i tried I would have a panic attack fearing it would happen again...once I realized the blood pressure connection I would just put cold water on my face and neck and drink plenty of water when I smoked...im not surprised you don't want to smoke after that though. was crazy..had no idea that could happen....trying to taper off for good now that I realize the affect weed has on sleep.
So ive smoked now for about 6 years and im about to be 19 and im trying to quit smoking pot but i dont get a sick feeling or colds or a fever but i do stay up til the break of dawn cause i use to smoke heavily before sleep i now get horrible nightmares of me doing drugs not even just pot like dropping lucy or taking xtc and ill wake up in a sweating panic i also feel almost 80% more anxious during the day anyways to divert this or help myself relax.....without marijuana of course i use to be smoking about an 1/8 everyday to myself
I smoked marijuana for about 10 years (started when I was 16). When I started working at a clinic, I was smoking about an 1/8th a day. My roommate also worked with me so we started our morning with smoking, smoked all day at work and smoked until we went to bed. I couldn't eat or sleep without it. The thought of running out made me anxious. The thought of going anywhere that I couldn't bring it with me made me anxious. Now I'm about 4 months clean. I quit cold turkey. It was the most difficult task I've ever had to accomplish. I crave it all the time but I try to ignore it and distract myself. The day I quit, I threw away all my pipes, bongs, papers and anything else that reminded me of marijuana. The hardest part for me was that ALL my friends smoked. I had to stop hanging out with a lot of them because of the temptations (they never pressured me to smoke but they smoked around me). And to honest, I had a lot of trouble sleeping so I ended most of my nights with a glass of wine for the first couple of weeks (it helped my anxiety a lot). Weeks went by and I started to feel better. I wasn't getting as much headaches or feelings of irritation. I started falling asleep faster and I was starting to get hungry without relying on smoking a bowl first. The best part about quitting is the amount of energy I have now. Oh and the money you save!!! I would put aside all the money I would spend on marijuana every week and boy did I save up a lot [:
Wow, It's so encouraging to read a comment like yours. Stay strong and keep focusing on how good you're feeling as well as the money you're saving and the joy of being wholly present in your life.
I've smoked since I was 17 and I'm 44 now. I was able to quit for 3 years until I feel off the wagon when WA legalized it. However, I've recently stopped and today is day 9. Each time I've quit before, I would get headaches, night sweats, loss of appetite, insomnia and general irritability. This time was no different. Everyone is unique, but for me I always felt withdrawal symptoms. They generally last 2 weeks for me and tapers off for a month. Oh, and those 3 years I stopped was the MOST successful I've ever been in life and my career. I'm excited about not returning to marijuana again as I start a new chapter in my life. I know I can do it since I did it for 3 years. This time its forever. The key is to NEVER give up and not to replace it with another addiction - but more into productive hobbies and lifestyle changes. Enjoy the extra money, relationships, and time to do what you want with a sharp mind and clear head.
Awesome comments....Makes me feel confident as I also am entering a new chapter and must give up the weed in order to live the life I want. Smoked it on and off for years but in the last year was more steady and it started to take over as a main priority. Thanks again!
Same really smoked since I was 17, 34 now gave up for a couple of years & was so productive slipped back into 18 months ago.. now I'm on day 8 no weed, 2nd headache of the week, tired in the day, irritated & anxious a lot. Have to do it cold turkey or it's not out of ur system takes 4 weeks. Was smoking lots.. Can't wait to get back to me & get going again !
I smoked for about 4 years. Not as long as many of you but I became dependent upon it. It was all fun and games towed the end of high school and the beginning of college until you finally realize you've smoked your years away wasting your money and living stoned. I always wanted to stop or was curious the things I could have done had I not been layed up on the couch watching shows or listening to music. I had an intervention one day, I reached my limit and needed to do better in class and stopping was the first thing to change. I stopped cold in the spring and worked a long, hard, hot summer of roofing with my friends without it. I worked it out of my body and finally I starting feeling like myself again. I did have sysmptoms and occasional insomnia, headaches, insane dreams and some depression but it was worth every second of it. Eat right, exercise, stay hydrated and work hard. Yoga or stretching with relaxation breathing also compliments your detox. Stay optimist my friends.
Day 1 and im super irritated and have a headache. I appreciate your comments and suggestions on detoxing.
Very good. Sounds like my situation. Keep up the good work and thanks for the encouragement
Im 40 and have been smoking on and off for 20 years. This is day 1 of my new life with out weed. Pray for me!!!
Day one for me.... Pray for me as well!!!
Me too ... I really don't like the hot cold feeling and Insomnia but I figure it will be worth it in the end... I prayed for help and the strength of my Father to help get through this ... I am too weak to do it on my own in tears begging for mercy , I through all my remaining buds and paraphernalia out. I kept saying to myself in tears I don't know how I'm going to handle myself tomorrow but I'm putting my faith in you to get me through .... almost at the end of day one. Miserable to say the least but I'm keeping my faith in he that is greater in me than than I am on my own.
I prayed for you, God bless you for success I am on my first day after many times failing to quit. pray for me too
day three fo,r me, sweats and loss of appitite, but I determined to see a different me.
I'd like to know how u'r doing now.
I am praying for you and me. I am day 5
Day 3 fo me keep the blessings going
I am on day 5 also. Super irritable. Feeling depressed. Excited to move forward in this chapter of my life.
Praying for y’all I’m on day 3 I hate this feeling
I'm 40 also, and have been smoking on and off too for more than 20 years and today is day number 6 of being sober. I've never had such hard core withdrawals before, but when I quit this past week, it was a different story, I actually had to go to the ER a couple of times from my blood pressure skyrocketing into the danger zones, around 160 over 115, which isn't completely deadly (yet) but definitely a serious wake up call because in my life I have never had one single health problem ever. I look like I'm in my 20s and people are shocked when i tell them my age, so I've always been healthy. So I noticed something wasn't right when suddenly for no reason my heart felt as though is was going to keep going up and up and up and of course panic will make it even worse. Headaches, dizzy spells, paranoid every time I leave the house or the phone rings, nightmares, sweats at night, tired, can't sleep, irritable, lost my job! The whole 9 yards. Today is the first day that I'm just beginning to feel myself again. It's strange, but the past week I have felt like in some dream state or altered reality, like I was living in a different body or somebody else was living in me, just weird feelings and sensations and chills and irregularities. Before I quit cold turkey last Sat. I was smoking all day, everyday, bowl after endless bowl, day and night non stop, for 3 months straight. So you can imagine the shock and all I put my body through. From going to Sonic every night at midnight for all the worst stuff you can stuff in your face, to no appetite at all, in fact, having to force myself to eat and hold it down. I went from bloated (15 lbs of mostly water weight) to skin and bones in 4 days! Serious weight loss and dehydration. All the symptoms. etc. The past two days I have been walking, and resting and hydrating, and getting support from my REAL friends. (You also learn who your real friends are very fast) I've got a new job lined up already, for next week, my mind is clear, slight headaches, but subsiding. My heart rate is low and stable again, and I feel more like myself again, about 80%. I'm extremely optimistic about the future now. Everybody is different, and it can affect you in different ways, or maybe not much at all, as was always the case for me in the past. A lack of sleep can have one affect, or lack of food another, and all a contributor to the symptoms and it can vary a bit too. But is it worth it to smoke and rely on weed or any other substance for that matter? For me it's not. For me it's the past, a lot of years of memories and sacred people that are dear to me and that I will cherish forever, and that's part of what kept me coming back too, the nostalgia, thinking it would some how recreate the good times. Instead it made me depressed as I realized that the past can't be recreated and those days are over forever. It's very hard. This isn't easy. But I know I'm not alone. I know I still have a long life to live and a lot to offer and a lot of great friends to make and a lot of fun times ahead, as a sober person. And I can honestly say, that I have absolutely no desire anymore to smoke weed ever again. I have the memories, and now I also have a much better future. God bless everyone out there, no matter who you are, how old you are or where you come from. Don't let anybody dismiss you or what you're going through. It is very REAL and very important. And it's definitely no fun, you will feel some very unpleasant and possibly even scary withdrawals, but each day will be just slightly better than the one before and after about a month you will be back to yourself again, but actually even better and stronger than before. Because you would have learned so much about yourself, life, those around you and so many other things. When you are young, you really don't know just how fragile and short life really is, sure you may hear that said a times, and it sounds cute, and you know that one day, like a million years from now, you'll worry about all that then, and so you live all sorts of unbridled life. But trust me when I tell you that what ever you do when younger, will actually come back to you when you get older. So if you're fit now and make that a priority, that will pay off big time later on. It will set the stage for your core being and be a rock for you to stand upon. In short, weed is just not worth all the negatives that come with it. I'll never touch that stuff ever again! Peace to you all.
Thanks for the encouragement!!!!
i did actually not intend to quit when i entered this site. But this actually made sense dude, think u just made up my mind! thanks
You nailed it couldn’t have explained it better don’t give up do what you need to do you are worth more than a life of addiction I had all the same symptoms I smoke for 16 yrs straight there will be bad side effects of quitting but they will go away and be so worth it after
I really needed this! I hope you are still doing well ! Blessings to you and keep on living! #Day10
in 51 been smoking for 35years,stopped once for six months ten years ago best six months of my life,now trying again ,im on day 3 dont get headaches but cant eat starting to dream again.takes about 2weeks to get back to normal cant wait new life for me and no going back this time.

Thanks for sharing your honest experiences with marijuana. A lot of people are afraid to share their negative experiences because it is supposed to be “cool” to smoke marijuana. It takes courage to talk about it, but it can help others who are confused about marijuana. Research tells us that some people do have bad reactions, and some people do get addicted, which can make it very difficult to quit.

Congratulation,this is my day one as well. Did you have witdraws?I'm having cold sweats and loss my appetite.
I smoked for 26 years. It was my crutch. It made me numb and stopped me from feeling. It is my 5th day clean. I have a headache that feels like it will never go away. However these past 5 days I have more aware of my surroundings. It is a habit I have always been ashamed of doing. I started isolating myself because that was all I did and it made me lazy. I did not want to hang out with people because I couldn't bring my stuff. I have to admit the true motivation is to pass drug tests for new jobs. If you are ashamed and embarrassed and are hiding it than you know you have a problem. Be strong and ask God for help.
Been smoking for 18 years. just suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax therefore I quit cold turkey 10 days ago. I didnt feel any withdrawal effect while I was in the hospital, due to the morphine they were giving to me (I had a chest drain for a week almost). Now I am home for 3 days and depression is start kicking in. Cannot even exercise for the next two weeks as my lung is recovering. Feeling very low at the moment. Hope this feeling will pass soon..
Awesome! definitely makes me feel like it will be worthwhile to quit!
That's really encouraging, I started around 16 I'm now 44, here's to new chapters, I've gone to stay beside the sea to get some clarity and move my life forwards instead of being stuck in the fog, although I enjoyed smoking its time to wake up and not let life opportunities and relashionships go up in smoke
Thank you for posting this comment, it has really encouraged me. I am 47yrs old and I have been smoking everyday since I was 14yrs old. I feel like I have more to do in life and the weed had been slowing me down. I have only been clean for 2 days and I feel horrible but I know that you have to go through this for awhile but I know it will get better. You letting me know that during your 3yrs clean, you were actually more successful. Thank you for confirmation.
I’m 28 days clean, feeling hard depression and anxiety. I just got out of bed to grab my bong because I couldn’t take it anymore and right before I took a hit, i read this and put it down. Thanks for 29 days
I smoked weed everyday for 25 years... I'm 90 days clean and still experiencing extreme psychological withdrawals. These withdrawals range from high levels of anxiety, depression, and just feeling totally out of my mind. The vivid dreams/nightmares are so intense I wake up totally rattled and it takes a while to adjust to reality. Another thing to note is that any trauma or negative emotion I managed to smoke away in the past has returned in full force... often times feeling like they just happened. Overall withdrawal from pot is very real and is like living in a nightmare. I pray that in time these symptoms will pass as my brain struggles to rebalance itself.
Maybe thats not from the weed then. It just seems to me you originally had depression and anxiety and the weed you smoked every day just numbed that feeling. Now you quit, you just feel how you'd normally feel? I don't know, good luck.
Exercise is the best thing when you quit. Whenever I'm feeling anxious or depressed from withdrawal I get up and work out . I know everyone is different but just throwing this out there. Maybe it'll work for someone.
Being in denial is the first sign of addiction, i was apart of the 'legalise weed' as im from the uk.. Smoked it when i was growing up as a kid but never relied on it as i do now. Im now 21 and recently start again a couple months back,. I smoke it pure with no tabbaco, atleast 3.0grams a day easy. Smoked it from morning to night, didnt think at the time i was addicted but weed was at the top of my prority list over everything. Low on money i couldnt keep up with 3-5 joints a day i went to 1-2 a day, started having thoughts about unrealistic situations that have never happend but affected me massively. Caused me to have a breakdown and now im a week in cold turkey. Severe anxiety, depression, break downs, cold sweats. Doctors prescribed me with some meds to numb the feeling but stopped taking them when i realised actually what it was. What people dont understand is everybody is different so just because you aint suffering from it doesnt make the people that do are a critic against weed, cause im not. If i never expeiranced what im going through now i would still smoke it. Me not being in denil about the situation has helped me soo much more. Im all for the legalise weed still now but people need to understand is that its not for everybody. Peace, love and respect to you all that have left your experiances as reading them has reasured me.
You may have predisposed mental disorders but it's far more likely it's just the emotional dependance towards marijuana. Hopefully this is the case and you can learn how to control these emotions but it is very difficult (same nightmare). Just trust that your body and mind will eventually return to equilibrium and you will feel normal again! However you may have to take more bold actions regarding your mental health in order to control your behaviour.
I have smoked pot for 44 years now. And now cold turkey is my choice of stopping. The biggest problem is that I'm quitting and withdrawing from the very powerful 500.00 and, up type. I'm not looking forward to the encounter and symptoms involved with withdraw. I have most all the symptoms I see mentioned. Although I enjoy the crazy dreams as a proper punishment for my actions. I'm not your average thinker and, embrace a very spiritual attitude. When I clean up it takes about a month of mind distortion until the spirit beings welcome me back to reality. Im determined to get clean this time mainly for my lungs sake. I'm fortunate enough to not have lung problems that I know of. That said, I feel as though I've been given a third chance to get it right. It won't be a lot of fun especially due to the potency of the pot I get. As I've said before who needs hash when the pot is better. In conclusion it becomes more dangerous to society as more powerful strains hit the streets. A blessing in disguise if you cannot afford the good stuff


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