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’?”

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

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
If you are reading this guy's comment, do not listen to it because he's completely blowing off the harmful effects of marijuana due to a biased perspective (he clearly loves it and is still using, as do all pot smokers) thing is, he might be one of those people mentioned in the article that might not be phased at all. As a former daily user of pot for 5 years I can tell you that if you're still using it and enjoying it, you're not going to admit it's an issue because it's altering your perception. Becoming sober all falls down to YOU!!! My usage began socially, progressed to a dependence once i learned it suppressed my anxiety, and then on to a full blown addiction being unable to function without it. Meaning i was totally apathetic to everything and anything. I couldn't enjoy my hobbies, I didn't enjoy food nearly as much, and I wasn't feeling that constantly desired euphoria so I was absolutely miserable. I couldn't remember what it was like to do much of anything sober. If you ever use alone like I ended up doing, chances are you're an addict. I used to be the guy who would minimize the harmful effects of pot too, until I opened my eyes and realized it's taking a huge sum of my money (I was up to 3-4 grams a day EASILY) and was getting in the way of having a healthy relationship with my family as time progressed. Yes, it is the "lesser of all evils" in comparison to harder drugs. No, it's not necessarily a gateway drug as much as alcohol and nicotine tend to be. Any 2 bit "scientist" can get funding to research marijuana and have a favorable outcome. But they do NOT have the complete and advanced understanding as say a neurologist or mental health professional would. I can't stress enough how important it is to look at marijuana by itself as opposed to comparing it to heroin, alcohol or even tobacco when trying to become clean. But the reality of it is, they're all drugs and too much of ANYTHING is harmful or potentially lethal (think about long term effects here, not 'overdosing' on pot). Another thing to watch out for while detoxing is today's pop culture. Weed is everywhere and it's become apart of society in all reality. So to end this rant out, in hopes of helping someone finalize their decision on becoming sober just let me say, NOTHING good in life is achieved without fighting for it. And that includes pot. Imagine what it will be like when you're urge becomes so small, it's just a small whisper in your head that has zero control over you. No more outrageous amount of money spent on the munchies, no more having to pull that 100-200 dollars out of your bank to re up. No more waiting for your plugs to message you back, worrying that everyone in town is dry or your favorite guy(s) got locked up in a drug raid, hell even worrying how you're going to get your next sack when times are tough!! Instead, the only thing on your mind is your current aspirations and the blissful experience of not being dependent on a little green bud to get you through the day and give you that *UMPH* you want. The farther down that road you go, the harder it will be to make that U-turn! I speak completely from experience, good luck to anyone reading you're not alone!
That's not how everyone feels, I've been a stoner for a few years and now that I stopped im feeling all of what's been cited above in this article. Depressed, specially.
I agree with much of what you're saying. My youngest son (an adult) is addicted to sugar and his health is suffering for it.
I'm detoxing right now for work I'm 8 days clean and I have had sweaty palms ,insomnia and weird dreams / nitemares I smoked weed only at night for 4 years I've dropped 15 pounds in 8 days !!!!!!! Bjk San Diego ca
I have smoked pot heavily for over a decade due to degenerative disc disease and rheumatoid arthritis. I thought it to be the better choice, however it ruined my life! Zero ambition, caused me anxiety, depression, and robbed me of many years of quality relationships with family and friends. I also hacked up brown plem every day, and even coughed up tar on a regular. My health and mental well-being took a major beating. I had no choice but to quit, and take it from someone who used to be addicted to cocaine years ago, the withdrawal is real and hell for many! Insomnia for two full months, waking up every 15 minutes with night sweats, horrible nightmares, I lost 15 pounds in one month and was already very lean, manor anxiety for two months and experienced disassociation disorder! Took my 5 months to feel like myself again, its unfortunate we do not have updated research on the true affects of the marijuana on the market today, the potency is much stronger today than it was when I was a teen! I believe pot is great for medicinal use, however long term use of any drug will affect quality of life! If your successful with pot, I believe you could move mountains without it!
i am a daily weed smoker since i am 15 , which was 8 years ago.. i have experience withdrawl symtoms today . i had headache sweats chills & shakes .. i felt moody snappy depressed & so worthless.. before 30mins ago i hadnt smoked a joint in 2 days. but 30 mins ago i had one cause i felt i really needed it i knew it would calm bfre i killed someone... Now i feel so calm..im not sweating my headache is gone i feel fine but still a little shaky & its only now i feel stomach pain. Addiction is real & ive realised it tonight, becz after i had that joint everything went away.
Don't give up the fight!!! It's difficult, and extremely lonely but seek help. It's for the greater good...meaning you and your body.
How much did you smoke those 8 years?
I've been smoking for 15 year and starting to get anxiety wen I use to much now so just 2 joints a night. My doc said u could be getting cycosis. But also said 15 year you would of had it by now lol. I've always had bad anxiety but I serenely don't hear voices or trip out like scitzo symptoms. Just bad anxiety. Will it do more harm quiting . And do you taper off it. As I'm wanting to stop. I get it free so is always on hand n hard to stop.
I been smoking hash and weed sence I was 13 I'm 28 now.i started off smoking hash because weed wasn't were I lived. Then weed came on the scene a few years later and I've been smoking mainly weed sence I've never really went more than a day without it maybe 2 anywhere I went i looked and got some I've recently started to get OK a sick feeling in my stomach when I smoke it this been happening a few months now and I was starting to loose weight but kicking the weed dosent/never seemed possible but 4 days ago I stopped and when I wasn smoking after the first day I wasn feeling the way I had been even still smoking cig,s.but then today when I smoked again after half a spliff I started gettin cramps I'm my stomach and vomited I really don't no wats going on with my stomach but I no it's because of the weed 100%
Any possibility of you being pregnant? I know when I was pregnant that is exactly what happened with me, before I found out. It actually was the reason I went to the doctors, because I had no idea what was going on with me. Turns out I was eight weeks pregnant and even the smell of pot turned my stomach. I would get terrible cramps, nausea and also I started to vomit if anyone near me smoked or smelled like pot. I also lost a lot of weight very quickly. It happened the same way with all three of my pregnancies though. However I didn't have any withdrawal symptoms, and I had smoked for years at that point. Now as far as all the other posters here, I would like to ask you to open your minds and use some common sense as you read this; I realize everyone's body chemistry is different, however I also know there is no definitive proof, in any study, that you can have withdrawals from pot. There is a great possibility that it is psychosomatic, that anyone is going through any type of withdrawals. I also would consider the fact that these so called symptoms of withdrawal from weed also mimic the symptoms of many mental illnesses/mental disorders. Which has me wondering why exactly nobody is considering the fact that they may possibly be suffering from those such things. Especially after reading these comments on this blog, some people are claiming their withdrawal symptoms have lasted for months and are still on going. Anyone that has ever researched anything with regard to marijuana would know that even the Government (who does lie about everything, if only to stop a revolt from the public) has stated through there studies (the very few of them that have been allowed over the years) that marijuana is out of your system completely within usually ten days, depending of course on how much you smoke and the potency and also your metabolism...but at the very most I have seen them say 100 days for someone that smokes 24/7, the highest potency and has the slowest metabolism (basically your completely bed bound all day, every day). Now I started smoking when I was 12 and smoked daily for 30 years, other than when I was pregnant. My kids, who are now young adults, they never knew I smoked and were always high honor roll students. They have graduated from College and have wonderful lives and do not smoke. In fact they are completely against it, which is how I raised them. I occasionally smoke, maybe once or twice a year. However I never suffered from any type of withdrawal symptom, when I stopped, and I use to smoke at least an ounce a week if not more. I chose to stop as I really didn't care if I smoke or not , it didn't rule my life. It was cold turkey, just like when I quit smoking cigarettes and stopped drinking (not that I was a big drinker to begin with) and I didn't have a problem doing that either. I just chose not to do it. If you really want to quit something and you get it into your mind, then you really shouldn't have a problem...but you have to want it! That is what I have found at least. Now I realize everyone is different, however I know people that have done hard drugs and they didn't quit until they really wanted it and then it was easy for them. With that said, I wish you all luck with your choices, but please do not blame your downfalls on pot because pot is not the type of drug that would take over your life to the point you would rob or kill for, like for instance Crack or Heroin. Your an adult and you should take the blame for your own downfalls and not place blame on a plant. Marijuana does wonders for the many that need it for medical purposes, don't ruin it for them.
My friend smoke daily 5 to 8 joints per day for 1 year...he quit weed instantly with very minor symptoms like irritability anger etc...
HOW can I feel better

If you are trying to stop using any drug, and are having a hard time doing it, we strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor. You can tell your doctor you want this to be confidential. We also recommend that you seek help from an adult that you trust. Most adults will be happy to help you get through this important transition in your life.

Your a crazy person
No he's not
I'm with u
Definitely not a crazy person. I had been smoking weed daily for the past 10 years. I'm 29. In the last 3 years heavily, before and after work. I held down a decent job, played sport, good social life etc, i would refer to myself as a functioning stoner. I quit around 1 month ago. The first 3 days were horrific, anxiety through the roof, crying, depression, shaking, no appetite, feeling sick, fevers and chills. All in all very frightening. These extreme symptoms subsided after 3 days. Things were calmer and i could function. However now i am suffering with anxiety issues, not so severe as before but very confusing and disconcerting at times. They seem to come and go, some days I'm fine, then i will have a relapse and feel like I'm trying to keep the symptoms at bay all the time. The symptoms are quit physical at first, increased heart rate, sweating palms, my face goes really hot. It's scary. I hope these symptoms will fade and this isn't just me. Unable to cope with life without weed. I stopped because i became highly anxious when smoking, so thankfully have no desire to go back to it. Hopefully after riding out the next 3 months I'll be back to normal, whatever that is.
Exactly, I knew it was time to quit when I forgot what "normal" felt like.
I agree. I'm 29 and was 16 when I started smoking hard and never took a break even for a day....I dont know who I am without cannabis anymore. It's part of me and it's unnatural. I need to find contentment outside of thc or cannabis, dabs, edibles, etc....out of curiosity, does anyone know or have experience with how long until you feel more clear and somewhat smarter or have a bit better memory? Thx for responses, if you have something stupid to say, save it. I'm sober and don't want to deal with wasteful and joking ideas . Thx everyone
until you truly stop you wont know how hard it is to not use again.
So what if he does "use" again? There are very few risks that come with smoking marijuana.
This may be true for some for a small fraction of addictive personalities but, everyone I've talked to experienced little to no withdrawals. I quit cold turkey for a job and haven't touched it in 4 years. Didn't have any symptoms of withdrawal. This sounds like more biased propaganda.
I think it depends on the user and frequency/quantity used. Some people will react like you did, some others will have severe reactions.
Thats really true tho, i thought or at least what everyone used to say weed is natural their can be no after effects, ive been smoking for 9 months now my smoking game was really strong im 17 and i smoked everyday. Well until now its my end of the year finals and they want to test me at school so i thought id get clean, for the past two weeks, i cant sleep i have to take sleeping pills amd then too i sleep for like 3-4 hours, my head hurts all the time, im always on edge any small thing my temper sly rockets and im like soo angry im frustrated all day, i cant have breakfast nothing i eat twice a day light meals i cant study, while im writing my papers my heads starts spinning and now i know that its real and i believe it, i know everyone is notthe same but thats just me, and im really worried
I smoked every day for about 20 years... mostly at night... I decided to quit. When I did, I had HORRENDOUS insomnia for a year, with it being extreme for the first 3-4 months after I quit. That's been almost 2 years ago now. Weed is just weed. It's neither a wonder drug nor is it anything remotely as bad as it's made out to be by some. However, I can assure you there are consequences to smoking. People become super dependent on it (I was as well as many of my friends) and it definitely causes a cognitive decline... though I think the brain mostly heals from it after long periods of abstinence.
BS don't believe it I've smoked for 40 yrs daily many times a day gone a year or two cold turkey due to job changes and drug testing I've never experienced what you are saying.
Your an idiot mate. Just because you didn't experience it doesn't make this person a liar. Obviously everyone reading and commenting on here is doing so for a reason. Why are you on here and reading this then? Everyone is different and so are the differents variants of weed worldwide, making such comments is just ignorant
I completely agree with you everyone is different...everyone. So all these mean comments people are making is not right. I am not against smoke just think people need to think before they write is all. Stacee R.N.
dont lie to act tough
You are small minded and egotistical! Good for you on quitting without withdrawels but they are very real.. been a heavy smoker ( 3-4 grams a day ) for over five years, ive just gone seven days without and it was very difficult the worst of it for me was hot and cold sweats and nothing i did exercise, sleep more, sleep less, eat healthier changed how i felt. Im sat here sweating yet its freezing if thats not withdrawels i dont know what is!
You are a liar, plain and simple. Either that or you smoke worthless low quality weed. 40 years of high quality on a daily basis, and you would have experienced a living hell upon a year of abstinence. This is true for all people, no one is special.
If what you say is true - and I would suspect it's not, then you are a very fortunate person. I love smoking pot. It's my drug of choice for sure. I would take it over alcohol any day. I think it should be legal because I don't think it's up to me or anyone else to say you can't do it. In spite of how I feel about it though, I have to be completely honest with myself. I can't stop for long even when I put my mind to it. I need it to sleep. Sex is better when I am high. I have no appetite when I am not high. I have terrible insomnia when I try to quit. I get the same hot/cold, sick to my stomach feelings these other people are describing. Hell, I searched this website out because of my symptoms. That's great for you that you are fine, but don't call the rest of us liars and idiots because what we are experiencing is real and it's tough to go through. We are here looking for support and help. If you don't need it, then why are you even on here posting? I am 46 years old and have been a once a day user for the past 8 years. The fact that I can't stay off it for even a few days without thinking of it continuously and have these bad withdrawal symptoms tells me I am an addict whether I can admit it to you or myself. I love everything about weed, but the fact that I can't stop. A lot of people posting tell how successful they are and that it has not affected their performance or relationships. Well, they are either the lucky ones or they are lying to themselves. I have been a very successful mechanical engineer with a masters degree and in the business for 25 years. I can tell you my ambition, my relationships and my level of success are not as good since I have been hooked as they were before I started using daily. I suspect that's true for most if they had the desire to be honest with themselves. So congrats to you, but please leave the board if you can't add anything constructive to those of us who are struggling with quitting and searching for help.
Good for you man! If you get a piece of paper and write the negatives vs. positives of your use and it comes to a clear conclusion that the harm outweighs the benefits, quit. If your okay, then do what makes you happy but beware....every high comes with an eventual and equal low that sucks. It's just herb, not heroin, but its uncomfortable to quit if you are a real pothead as I was. 2g of shatter daily as a minimum....good luck to you all
My symptoms were not minor. Severe depression with suicidal ideation. Migrains, anxiety, dissociative episodes. Just because it didn't happen to you, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
I'm experiencing the same thing right now, It's been 8 days since I quit. How are you doing now?
Im going through withdrawal now it been 18 days no weed in counting thank god but i just want these to stop.waking up hot an sweating during the night also bad headache but it is worth the stop For Real.
Hi stellarchic. My symptoms are the same. 3 days in and I'm really struggling. Smoking it ever again actually scares me. Please tell me, how are you doing now and how long have you been sober?
^this guy knows what he is talking about. Marijuana withdrawal is nothing
its different per person i started smoking weed 2 years ago last year almost daily some days 3-7 joints a day and some days 0 when i dont smoke for like 3 days these symptoms starts i dont really know if like marijuana is the cause cus i'm having some other health problems too
I am on day 3 without it and am very iratable with no appetite , headaches and night sweats.
Im 18 years old, and have been smoking since i was 14.... and i can tell you that i have never gone any longer then 2 months. 2 of the best and worst months of my life. I am currently on day 2 of my detox as this has ruined my life. In every aspect my life has been changed and for you to try and say that 'withdrawal does not exist' is like saying you can't get addicted to ciggarettes..... it effects everyone differently. But no, surely i cant have night sweats, insominia, no appitite (even if i eat im sick) anxiety, extreme anger, restless legs and an extreme urge to raid my dealers house from withdrawal. Not at all. Thats not addiction..... Well im sorry, news flash, but it is. Each and every person is different and im so sick of people saying just because it hasnt affected them that its practically non existant.... the constant NEED to at least know i have some, the constant NEED to be high or not want to function is totally an addiction. I have suffered worse pain (mental and physical) through withdrawals from weed then i ever had with any other drug including alcohol.
I've had a slightly different experience, when I take breaks nausea, headaches, low appetite and worsening insomnia-as I've already got that- ensue not for a few days but usually 7-14 days. It is not pleasant, no food sounds good to eat even if I am physically hungry and I often vomit from the nausea/headache combo. It feels similar but a bit less severe than when I forget my sleep meds when I'm out of town and I end up accidentally withdrawing from the benzodiazepines. But I am also an (almost graduated) RN, and I can tell you for a fact nicotine and caffeine are highly addictive and most people just get a twitch from the caffeine but nicotine, drug, and pot withdrawal have some more serious symptoms- however alcohol withdrawal is literally the only one which can be lethal if done without medical supervision. Does it warrant a schedule 1 classification, no. Is it more harmful than some of us have been led to believe, yes.
I've been a daily smoker since 2006 as well except when on vacation, started smoking in 2003 when i was 12 years old. I started taking a break 3 days ago. I'm definitely going through withdrawal. I go through withdrawal every time i stop. It usually lasts 2 weeks. I have very little appetite, when i do eat its very small portions. Its heard to sleep, usually around 11pm I start getting chills and start sweating. I wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat with cold wet sheets. I need to change my clothes and sheets at least once in the middle of the night. I get intense vivid dreams which i like sometimes. I get stressed very easily, I get very irritable at work, and start yelling at people to the point where i almost get fired. I live in northern California and the bud out here is extremely potent, which might have something to do with it. My girlfriend doesn't experience these symptoms when she stops, but some of my friends i grew up with withdrawal just like me. I'm not sure why i withdrawal so badly, i guess i'm not one of the lucky ones.
Congrats. Good to know a single Canadian knows how everyone one else operates. Tool.

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