Drugs & Health Blog

Marijuana Withdrawal Is Real

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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’?”

Categories: 
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.

Comments

That's funny because I just quit 3 days ago and have gone to sleep at 5 am one night and 3:30 am the other because I have gone to sleep after using basically every night before this. Withdrawal from marijuana is REAL, especially if you have anxiety problems.
Yes!!
Everyone's reaction is different, the biggest thing is when you become an every day smoker as a teenager, not only will it permanently affect learning but you can easily become dependent on it. I'm not speaking from some Facebook post, I'm speaking from the perspective of an every day smoker. I know so many people who swear up and down its not addictive, but when they run and can't get any it's all they think about. As an adult I'm sure you'd be fine, but everyone I know who has smoked consistently since they were a young teenager is dependent on it. I'm not against weed, but you shouldn't smoke every day as a teenager. It can really have a negative effect on your life, short and long term.
hi
Your lucky. I spat out blood after inhaling and freaked out and have stopped 4 days ago ( I also swallowed a hard candy whole previously in that day so I can't say what caused blood but It hasn't shown back up). I feel like I have the flu. I never wake up early I'm normally an insomniac and now I feel so sick in my stomach at 7am. I feel like I need to puke Ive been having anxiety waking up sweating like hell, headaches , I feel all around horrible and fear it's not thc withdrawal but I'm near positive it is. Please note though that this withdrawal has never happened to me before. I've gone longer without weed and not felt like this.
I can totaly relate
Thank you wholeheartedly for these words. Not because I needed them, I'm in a very similar position to you. But because I know others do need to hear this perspective. Educated, health conscious, functional members of society both, we crusade the same arguments my friend. Have a great life!
Surley your government don't lie sheeple are indeed easy brainwashed ganja makes you ask questions that's why its banned if more ppl smoked weed wed not be under this impendi one world tirrany by the banking family's and the so called elite it'd be sensible to legalize it u can bury your head in the sand your are is still in the air we need to wake the hell up to tirrants controlling our freedom that was died for we need to remember that who can tell you what to do like there higher and all knowing its a freedom thing not even a weed thing
Oh yeah? Try going without weed with nothing to do. You'll feel a lot less happy go lucky.
Very helpful!
i smoked weed heavily in my teen years. more then 3 joints a day. and i can tell you withdrawal is a lot difficult than you think. you may argue but clearly you dont know what your talking about.
Totally agree wit u manny
Some people like me experience withdrawals that are so bad, I throw up at work if I don't go to the parking lot and hit a joint.
Good on you! Excellent reading and I believe you have a well rounded opinion :) I was a smoker, on and off for 17yrs and the pressure got to me from 'society'. 13yrs off it and life didn't get heaps better, I just put on some weight and didn't have to worry about the legal stuff... Some people have more addictive nature's than others, lifestyles also influence... SUGAR addiction is the BIGGEST killer in the world, it is going to get worse and worse, as they spend wasted time dealing with the so called dope criminals haha.. put the money into sugar management! Anyone ever bags dope smokers... I ask them, Do you feed your child or yourself sugar daily? Do you eat or feed your child processed 'poison' food? Well....look into your own poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle before carrying on about dope... Idiots
I haD been smoking skunk since I was about 15, that was in 1999. I have given up a few times for a couple of months, once even for 6 months and let me tell you, withdrawal is real. I have recently given up and I am on week 3 determined to never smoke again after getting my dream job. I haven't had a proper nights sleep once in 3 weeks, im coughing up a load of rubbish from my lungs every other minute and at the moment I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I am determined to make this work though and comments like yours are very unhelpful for people to read. Unhelpful and misleading. I can only assume you smoke some weak stuff or you have a real problem. It seems you are the brainwashed one.
Exercise the best anti depressant out there try again but skip the gym
Typical dope head you are. Covet the monkey on your back and make any excuse to dispel the real truth.
Everyone is different though man.
Wow... You've certainly qualified yourself as an expert on the matter.... No, but seriously, this comment isn't for you, but rather people reading this forum who are struggling don't let your BS get stuck in their head. MARIJUANA WITHDRAWL CAN BW CRIPPLING FOR SOME! Just because you've led a vanilla life and haven't used like some of us does NOT make you the utmost authority on withdrawal. Not tryin to be a jerk, just offended by this opinion which is absolutely without basis for a lot of users.
You're right that some people don't get addicted to weed but it is also true that others can be. I was addicted for sure. I would smoke three times every day for about a year and now that I've gotten in trouble with the state, I have to quit for 6 months. I've been depressed and I've had stomach pain and I almost never sleep. And about the gateway drug thing, honestly, when I was smoking weed, I had no desire to try other drugs because I was content with weed. Now that I've been off weed for a while, I've tried so many other drugs. I think not smoking weed once you're used to it gave me the gateway to other drugs.
Cannabis withdrawals are real, like its effects it varies from person to person. I work at a dispensary and smoke as much as i can a day, When i stop smoking even for a day i feel drained, depressed and unmotivated. Some symptoms mirror those of mild Psychosis,it definetly affects your chemical balance.
i agree. i take medical marijuana and the worse i ever had is a bout 2-3 day little sleep but then im normal. maybe a little eeh ever now and then but it can be explained as me being a woman.
You do need help 30 years here withdraws are as real as you are both mental and physical
This is Bull. I understand that for you, the effects of marijuana addiction are negligent. You are overstepping by saying the same is true for everyone. I have had a marijuana addiction for a few years, and it has drastically effected my grades in college, my relationships, and my housing situation. Not everyone reacts to weed the same way. I realize all of these negative reactions in my life are because of weed, and so I have tried to quit unsuccessfully many times. I've quit smoking for periods of time ranging from 1 week to 1 month, and every time I eventually somehow justify smoking again. If anyone is spouting propagated claims that are unsubstantiated, it is you Manny. I have heard your exact same words from many sources, and it just means that some people don't understand that everyone's brain chemistry is different.
Good for you, but to say it's not real is ridiculous. For me it was very real, granted it didn't lasts for months, only a few days.
Hey I've been smoking weedfor 7 years and I have never had withdrawal like ever
Getting of snacks is a good thing :)
You're absolutely right bro! There's no addiction. People use it consume it as a drug makes them feel they're addicted to it, dependent to it. They cannot solve their problems and blame the herb it's their fault not the herb. Someone said different chemistry, true that, different thinking different chemistry. Think irrational and you'll have irrational chemistry. How can one let one's own part- the mind intellect IQ, decision making and thought processes be affected Ted by something which isn't themselves. That's slavery. Go out early in the morning. sit under a tree bare footed- try not thinking anything for once in your life and still if you feel like you can't stop thinking, just think anything whic isn't a part of human world and see how much healing effects you have and trust me that's more addictive than weed-if you consider it to be an addiction. Namaste
I read these comments n makes me laugh I am 27 have been smoving it since I was 14 and I can tell u it is highly addictive I want to g give up now and can't go more than 6 hours without one or I begin to have panic attack. I love the stuff but for financial reasons 60 pound every 2 days is just too much and there is no cutting down or I become highly irrational and extremely pissed off. I know it affects everyone differance but I really wish I never started now. Any one who believes it is no addictive is very misguided. I know it all depends on the amount u smoke and how long but what I feel on a daily basis is a very bad addiction! I can still function completely on it and on occasions feel more normal when high than not. I need to stop and need advise if any one can help would really appreciate it

Hi Jadon, if you're in the U.S., you can search for treatment options at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

Preach I could not agree with you more they paint weed smokers as incompetent, lazy an irresponsible like we will sell our tv for a dime bag ..it's a joke!!!!
Your wrong buddy! I spent 16 years wasted with a person I loved who has a very serious problem with marijuana. He is now 54 and made a mess of his life, mine and our 10year old son. My son and I had a breakdown over his problem. We suffered from anxiety, depression and post-posttraumatic stress over his problem. I still have anxiety and post--traumatic stress and have to avoid him in order to get better.
Except it's different for everyone. I'm an everyday smoker for over 10 years. If I stop for more than a week, I can't eat, I have severe depression, I sweat constantly and even sweat through my bedding every night. So tell me again how these withdrawals are "non-existent".
We need more people like you. People who won't just take things to be "truth" because the person giving us information on something they never tried or even researched are significant figures in our lives. Think and research for yourselves people. Stop being sheep.
I was just wanting to inform you that I have smoked marijuana for 3 years everyday and started when I was 16 I went cold turkey 3 days ago. I'm having terrible withdrawal symptoms (shaking, anxiety, moodiness,cold and heat sweats and having a very difficult time sleeping and a fever with loss of appetite to the point almost force feeding). Not saying this will happen to everyone or even most people who use for a long time but it's not like it can't happen. And I don't wanna get bashed for thinking I'm a hater of weed cause I'm not, I believe there are some people who can smoke weed consistently with no problems caused by marijuana but then there are people like me who get Physically and mentally dependent(not addictive but dependent) on marijuana.
Marijuana withdrawal is real. Why don't you try not smoking for a while and then tell me the way I feel right now is not marijuana related. I promise youll feel the same. I have been severely depressed, irritable, I can't sleep, I have no appetite. I even have extreme fatigue. I've always been an advocate for MJ, but after going through this I'd say it should be used with caution. Especially not to be used recreationally.
I so agree! Thank goodness for anonymity bc people are going to think I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist, but... I believe that marijuana has been criminalized in order to help the FDA & other governmental agencies. The FDA against money anytime someone takes medicine, so obviously having an all natural pain reliever around is a threat. Not only that, but numberous studies have shown that marijuana isn't lethal, and (besides the THC that makes you high lol) may even be good for you. It also seems to allow the system to further work in favor of (I hate to bring race into the picture) white people. For every white man receiving jail time for possession there are 2, sometimes 3 black men in there for the same reason(2013). There are more issues at play here obviously, I'm in no way attempting to simplify the complexities of racism, I'm just pointing out data that anyone can find online.
Great comment bro. Absolutely no relevance whatsoever.
Agree completely, I have had the same experience. Thanks for your honesty in a time of such misinformation.
Different blokes different strokes not everybody is like yourself.
Been smoking since 2009 I feel dumber, non active , feel like the worst ever right now .sweats , all of the withdrawal symptoms.it's day two of withdrawal everyone's body is different
One of the most ACCURATE comments here!
I know this is old, but I'm just reading this. I totally agree with you. Weed is a plant, it grows from the ground, it's not like all the other drugs that are man made. Weed has already been used medically to help cancer patients, seizure's, asthma, and pain. All the crime and violence could go down drastically if weed was decriminalized
Your argument is 100% invalid and uneducated. So, since Marijuana "grows from the ground" that makes it okay? Have you never heard of the coca or poppy plant. Cocaine used to be used like chewing tobacco, therefore IT should be legal too! So long as it's not in the powdered pure form. Poppy plants too! And to address your preposterous claim that crime would "go down drastically", I urge you to look into the research done by the Cato Institute called, “Dose of Reality: the Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations". It single handled proves, with limited government analysis I might add, that the decriminalization of marijuana related to economic and criminal outcomes did not change substantially enough in any of the 4 states where adult use of marijuana has been "legalized" to attribute to the decriminalization. Just so you know, those 4 states studied within the past year were, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska.
Former addict . Marijuana was definitely my gateway drug as it only left me curious . Of all the withdrawals I would rank Marijuana in the top 3 . It is also so easy to convince yourself it's ok to go back with marijuana that kicking the habit was much harder than harsher drugs. I smoked cigarettes longer than any other drug and the withdrawals were not as bad as MJ. Caffeine I would rank worse as far as headaches go however the withdrawals go away much faster than Marijuana. I drank a 12 pack of beer a day for years and the only withdrawals i had were social / depression. Justify all you want, you're addicted, own it and stop the denial.

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.

So I'm in a outpatient drug program for weed and I'm on a month clean. But my support system is bad because everyone smoke weed around me. My mom. My grandma. And cousin. Do I stop being around them. Because my will power is not that strong or am I over reacting like my mom says . My was in inpatient for weed. While I smoked I was still fuction could handle a job without being high. Could complete a task with at no problem.. I mostly smoke when stress.

You are in a very difficult situation. First, congratulations for working so hard to stop using weed. Please stay focused on your goal. Talk to your rehab counselor about how to handle your family, and possibly find another living situation. Generally, you should not be around people who are constantly smoking weed. That doesn’t mean you don’t love them, you simply need to put your own health first. Everyone has stress. The trick is to find a way to cope without using drugs. Your counselor can also help you with that.

I have smoked for about 10 years I have just quit and I am on my seventh day my withdrawal symptoms are unbelievable runny nose stomach pain loss of appetite fevers restlessness anxiety irritability I've had a problem with ball movements I feel like my kidneys are sore and it just continues to get worse I quit smoking because I felt it was taking away from time for all my family and I needed a break I have decided to quit permanently and will never go back if anyone else has these kinds of symptoms please seek help as I'm sure you're going to need it
Withdrawal from cannabis is very serious, I've experienced it first hand, so please don't make it seem less than what it really is

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