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.


The Government will not lie to you? Really? Okay.....lol.
For me withdrawing from weed was scary i had psycotic symtoms and thought people were trying to kill me now im to scared to use it any more only just a tiny bit if i have pain
That's simply not true for everybody I smoked for about a year. I have not smoked weed in the past week and am still experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. Also there is a good chance that i got depersonolization, and derealization which basically caused me to fail my first semester of 11th grade. Just because some people don't experience bad symptoms does not mean its true for everyone, or even true for the majority.
How long do the withdrawal symptoms last
How long is your break? If you toke high quality daily, then it takes roughly 2 weeks before things really get bad. Or perhaps you smoke low quality? Regardless, you are very wrong, withdrawal from daily use of high quality weed is a living hell that lasts 3-6 MONTHS. It is no joke, and it makes nicotine withdrawal look laughable.
Schedule 1 drugs are the worst ones for u smart one
I'm on probation for weed I've been a heavy smoker since 14 I'm now 24. I love to smoke but probation will not allow it. It's been 13 days and I'm litarally contemplating going to jail just cuz I need to smoke. Don't be dumb. Your on vacation having a swell time that's why your not suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I for one have not had a good nights rest since I quit. I wake up everyday depressed anxious sick to my stomach and absolutely irritable. Not to mention it's the only thing coursing through my mind even tho I have a wife and a 3 year old on the line. I'm a strong supporter of weed and will smoke it the first day I get of probation but don't be ignorant and say there no such thing as withdrawal well I lay in my bed all night without the ability to sleep.
I've had weed withdrawals multiple times, just because you don't have them doesn't mean they don't happen. I didn't believe they were real until I started smoking multiple times daily and then even a few days of not smoking would give me all the above symptoms.
Honestly im for marijuana in the medical field its ridiculous that its not in every pharmacy. But as my life is getting better mentaly, i hav quit. And it is for the better and im very happy with my decision. I didnt mark the day i quit i hate doing things like that. But it has been maybe a week im still havin real bad nausea especialy after i eat. Itll come in waves. Lots headaches. Almost zero sleep. Irritability depressed feelings. One second im a lil cold next im lil to warm nothing to crazy tho slight dizziness and shakes bur nothing crazy tho. But i respect your comment and i understand ur body maybe handles it different. But to say its all untrue is false, im honestly goin thru it right now. I dont use any other prescripton or drug except maybe Tylenol occasionaly and a over counter sleep pill to sleep. So 100% its marijuana. Im not against marijuana but facts are facts. There many body types that react diff. And the depression irritability it defently there but im currently taking some steps to cope with that . and i do understand that my depression and irritability is natural but it defently amped it up some by starting and quitting. I would defently recomend marijuana over any other medicaton. And it withdraw is deffntly more milder than most drugs. Thnx for ya time and reading this
Maybe the main issue is this new marijuana that I call GMO pot . Has anyone asked a pot head from back in the 60's or longer if they had withdrawals when they quit smoking ? Back in those days there was no GMO maryjane
It's different with everyone I'm 15 smoking everyday for the last 4 mouths and I'm starting to have problems while taking a break vomiting and no appetite but after its over I will be lighting up that sticky green.
Yes they would
Im a 57 year old Canadian male in decent shape , due to drug testing in the workplace I've had to abstain, "quitting" for 4 years now,if you don't think maryjane is addictive you don't know squat!
While I accept weed should 't be a Sched I drug, I smoke about an ounce every two weeks, and I quit for a month. The first few days were mood swings and hella night sweats, lasting to about a week and a half. Things got better after but I went back a few weeks later anyway. This is my experience, it may differ from yours, your blessed.
Everyone is completely different you can't speak on behalf of every marijuana user. I have also been using the drug daily for a number of years and can say that giving up for me is absolute hell. I become manic and anxious and can go days without sleeping. After a few days of that I then crash and hit a brick wall of depression. Right now this is day 5 for me and am struggling more than ever. I can say before I smoked so heavy I never in my life experienced anxiety or depression so can say first hand that this is down to smoking very heavy over the past 2 years. I started off smoking light and over the years have smoked more and more and now it's became a real problem and very expensive problem. All of the descriptions above are very accurate to what I have been experiencing. It's really quite awful and not as easy going for everyone.
I don't think you realise your ignorance. Different people react differently. Just because you don't have much trouble doesn't mean nobody has any. I, for one, quit using 5 nights ago, with the exception of one tiny, weak joint on day 2, and I'm still experiencing insomnia. I only got a couple hours sleep last night, now it's 4:37am and I'm still unable to drift off in spite of being ridiculously tired. The first time I quit, I went absolutely nuts for two months, to the point where I couldn't function. My emotions were all over the place and I was barely able to eat for the first two weeks. I got very skinny. At present, my appetite is dead and I'm losing a lot of weight. These symptoms, whether the cause be physiological or simply psychological, are very real, and are ruining my day. So no, it's not just reefer madness. What you've done here is created a strawman. Anyone who points out the downsides of marijuana must be on an anti-freedom tirade! Well, no. The fact is, weed has its ups and downs just like any other psychoactive compound. It is entirely possible to become addicted to it, which I still am 5 days after quitting. That said, I have absolutely nothing against weed. You just have to use it responsibly and know yourself. You're one of the lucky ones. You don't get very bad withdrawal. Others, like me, do have very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. And some experience it even worse than I do. It's a psychological addiction, man. As one stoner to another, please stop pretending it can't be addictive. If we want to get it decriminalised, lying to everyone in order to protect its reputation is just going to bring the whole movement's credibility into question. Eveyone acknowledges the downsides of alcohol, which are even worse than those of weed, and that's still legal. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be honest and balanced, not defensive and biased.
That is only your case. As the article said 40% of people reported having withdrawals, the other 60% (you) didn't. I would be of the 40% that did. I smoked everyday for a longtime, usually smoking 1 at least gram of the flower form, and up to 3.5 grams of the flower form in a day. I stopped smoking 6 days ago and I have been experiencing fatigue, irritability, cloudy thinking, trouble sleeping at night, low appetite, occasional headaches and other symptoms. No it is not that bad, nothing compared to cafien withdrawal, but yes it is negatively affecting my everyday life. Don't think your personal experience is the same as everyone else's.
actually im 18, been smoking for half a year, I've stopped for about a week and having all the problems they said. Its really hard and not nice tbh. I would say its about the person not the drug. Its no lie and just because it doesn't effect you doesn't mean it will effect others.
Please who you to judge ive been smoking for ten yrs everyday too and i get withdrawals because i havd an addictive personality i need weed cigs and suboxone everyday if i dont have one im miserable be happy u arnt like that instead of thinking if u feel a certain way then everyone does
Really the United States government wouldn't lie? My dear fellow American you are justifying your drug. So why only do it on vacation not all the time three to 4 times a day? Cause it doesn't impair your judgement? Yea right .. Try another argument.
Each time you quit, then start back up your withdrawals will get worse and it will be harder to quit. 25 years of smoking for me and its definitely not minor withdrawals.
U said the United States Government wouldn't lie to us? Ur very wrong there. They lied when Indianl land was taken away. They lie to us all the time.
I began using marijuana at the age of 9 and am 39 presently. I have stopped a few times over the years, never longer that a few weeks at a time. I recently quit and have been suicidal, and extremely aggressive i have been experiencing night sweats and extreme loss of appetite. I didnt know that POT could or was having such a huge inpact on me my relationships until NOW if you're debating on stopping do it ASAP, it has ruined my relationships with my children. After 30 yrs i can say my drug use has had a negative result in every aspect of my life and stopping is a constant struggle! Its just some pot means so much more to me.
Everyone is different, just because you may not feel like you've experienced withdrawal, doesn't mean that it is not real. It's ignorant of you to think that just because you feel a certain way - everyone will. I smoked for 10 years, and I have been clean for two weeks now. It is very difficult not to smoke, I find I am constantly thinking about it and craving it. I am irritable, emotional, and have experienced a loss of appetite. I find that I am having difficulty falling asleep, and staying asleep. I'm just curious, if you don't feel like you are addicted to marijuana .. How did you end up on a page dedicated to marijuana addiction?
First of all, you cannot speak for an entire population based on your experience alone. I have witnessed first hand the effects of Marijuana withdrawal... fever, night sweats, continuous nagging cough, and lethargy. Second of all your comment about the government not lying to you dismisses any credibility that you could have ever provided (which was a joke to begin with).
Dude. Everyone is different. I used to get pissed when people would talk about withdrawals for marijuana. I smoked for 6 years everyday and quit cold turkey and I actually feel like I have the flu. So stfu and get with the program. Weed may not be bad, but it can be misused,abused and ultimately lead to actual withdrawals. Which I am absolutely experiencing and completely hating more than anything. Haven't been able to eat a complete meal in 3 days. REPRESENT
I haven't smoked weed since February 16, 2016 and I feel Horrible . I have smoked since high school over 13 years
I smoked every day...literally everyday for as long as you and those "make believe symptoms" are in fact very real. I just quit fyi. Frequency vs quantity and quality are very different on the body. Scientific fact ***Marijuana prevents solid rem sleep for thousands of users myself included and when they stop; sleeping is difficult, fevers kick in, and irritability most certainly increases. When you force your brain to release chemicals through drugs or herbs the body has minor-severe symptoms in order to get everything back in check. These aren't refer madness people trying to fool you. These are experts trying to prevent teens from ending up like me or you. Try letting your body actually detox 100% for a hair test before you express your opinion. The body releases built up thc from fat and other tissues for over a month with that type of use so I doubt you fully detoxed.
You're correct, there is no real withdrawal from cannabis. In fact, there's actually ZERO addictive properties to cannabis except one factor. People are addicted to the RELIEF that cannabis brings to their issues. It's a mental relief thing, not a chemical dependency thing. Don't believe me? Solve the issues with something else and the cannabis addiction vanishes. WTF? That doesn't happen with 'drugs' that are addictive, when you remove the problem that caused the drug use in the first place the body/mind still craves the drug. Cannabis is not like that in the least. The sleeping issues you guys talk about when you stop using cannabis? Clean up your f'ing diet! I guarantee that nobody complaining about sleep issue from stopping cannabis is eating a pure food diet for their blood type. Again, cannabis relieves issues, including digestion, and adjusting to sleep without your issues being calmed can mess you up for a bit. Duh. Since when does logic stop as soon as the subject turns to cannabis? Crazy.
This is not true for me. I suffered terrible chronic pain and used marijuana. I overcame the chronic pain through 7 months of yoga, meditation, massage, diet, talk therapy and Accupuncture. When it was time for me to stop using marijuana in my life I experienced terrible insomnia, sweating and yet chilled because of the sweating, shakey body and tremors in hands and a chattering mind. My diet is beautiful. I am seeking the help of my accupuncturist for my withdrawal symptoms as she had an amazing effect on my mind and body.
From Beautiful life again. Just wanted to add to my previous comment that I eat organic and follow an Ayurvedic diet. So when I encountered withdrawal after dealing with what caused me pain it was obvious I was suffering marijuana withdrawal and it started within the first 24 hours of not using it.
You ever notice that most atheists come from wealthy families? Hmm...coincidence? Not so sure. If you never really had a "need" for God then I do understand why you wouldn't think Jesus is real. I guess that explains why harder for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven, when he/she dies those gates look too much like the projects.
I am the same. I could do it every day and not much happens. But I have a 17 year old who has been gone from my house using it daily and in large quantities for over a month and a half. He passed out when getting up off the toilet and shattered 4 of his teeth and broke his jaw in two places. I had them take a tox screen while I was on my way to the hospital. He was only positive for pot. He was a bit agitated in the ER, but nothing abnormal outside a broken jaw. This is usually a day surgery. But he was there for 3 as his agitation and his anxiety exponentially increased with time, making it very difficult to manage his pain. I have seen these symptoms present with him when he has not had access to pot in the past. Usually starting day one with irritability and insomnia. Day two, mood swings and anxiety, and third day is very aggressive mood, severe agitation and quick to frustrate and restlessnes. Day 4 all symptoms are there but become less as the days go on, but usually he would start smoking by the second day. In the hospital it was like clack work except to the extreme. He was totally out of control by the 3rd day insisting I take him back to his temporary home where pot was part of the familiar scene. He mad threats to me and the doctors and nurses to the point that they insisted to hold him for a psych eval. Day 4 was better and he refused to discharge with anyone unless they took him back to his home. He stated he was going to run away as soon as we left. With some intervention he was detained and transported out of state for a holistic life changing program to address his addiction. Does this seem severe? It was like a scene from basketball diaries except with pot. I still have people asking me, are you sure he wasn't on anything else....I am sure. The truth is it is different for everyone because of the drugs nature. I never thought in a million years I would see someone be so self destructive for just a little toke. I know that he was using every manipulative tool her had to get to where he could get it, and the more he was denied, the angrier he became. Seriously, people still think it was Crack by his behavior. I am not anti pot, I am anti pot for him. Everyone needs to identify your bounds with ANY substance and hold yourself accountable. Once you cross that line, it is very difficult to see a problem yet alone fix it.
Haha yea right the government doesn't lie .. by the sounds of it u smoke a joint or two everyday .. try smoking a q everyday and get back to me on that
I'm glad yout don't have withdrawal symptoms but you are the lucky one. I have my 16 year old grandson with me and he is having definite withdrawls. It's been less than a week and he is so confused, angry, no appetite, can't sleep, he is definitely experiencing withdrawls. It's so sad. I too believed you couldn't get addicted but you most certainly can.
I am 50. I was addicted to heroin & weed for 25 years. I quit heroin 6 years ago, but I hung on to my weed addiction until now. I stopped smoking 2 days ago and I feel horrible. It isn't as acute as the heroin withdrawal of course...but I had methadone to help back then. The symptoms are the same, just milder. BUT THERE ARE SYMPTOMS!
I will agree my withdrawl from caffeine has been wyy worse as the symptoms allow. But i had every symptom of thc withdrawl and thought i had anorexia for short time and im constantly irritable and angre after a week of not smoking but i would feel the symptoms immidiately
Agree I think some ppl just like to say the withdraw like they need it more than you do . I've been smoking for years I've used hash to get over other withdraws from painkillers but never experienced illness due to not haveing smoked for over a week maybe it effects ppl differently. you can not even overdose from cannabis
Well I've been a heavy user for over 10 years and this is my 4th day without weed. I have every single symptom to an extreme level. These symptoms are what made me search the symptoms and they matched. I am not reading these and telling myself I have the symptoms. I keep crying, can't stop. I can't sleep. I have a tummy ache and a headache. Chills and sweats and fever... so it is real. That being said, I am conscious to what I am going through and understand it's my want for weed. Everyone is different, but I am indeed suffering from the above.
Well done be proud and keep up the good work it can can tougher for the moment but push through you will have a happier and healthier life x
If you are a heavy pot smoker (which it doesnt seem like) you will relate very closely to this article. I have smoked everyday since i was 14 and am now 22. Everything listed above i have gone through.
Hello, I'm a 19 year old girl and I've been a daily marijuna user since I was 16 and a casual one since 14. Since, I have developed chronic anxiety, mild cases of eating disorders, disassociative personality disorders, insomnia and often have displayed symptoms of schizophrenia. When I began smoking I weighed 75kgs and by the time I was 16 and a half I was 96kgs due to over eating. I then began to lose weight due to being hungry a rare few times a fortnight and went back down to 70kgs by my 17th birthday (in August) by November that year I was an average weight between 58 and 63 which is consistent to this day. The rapid weight loss had me placing goals for myself in my head, comparing myself to my larger self when before I began to lose weight I failed to recognise a significant weight problem at all. The abrupt slowing of the weight loss sent my mind into complete and utter chaos causing me to suffer from constant hatred of myself in my body which resulted in purging and malnourishment. I'm afraid to leave my house, I'm afraid to leave my bong I have developed a heliophobia over years which I'm slowly over coming. I don't know how to talk to people and am severely anxious of confrontation. I'm scared for my life to fall asleep. I've been to rehab twice in one year and cannot find the strength in me to leave the damned plant in my past. Within just 8 hours after use I have developed severe nausea and vomiting, the next day blackouts, by day 3 or 4 I don't even recognise my existence as a human being im too scared to be awake and I'm too scared to fall asleep because the voices follow me everywhere. Anyone who believes it's not a problem is ignorant, it will grab you from the shadows and never let you go. I never thought this would be my life but it is and it could be anyone's, as uncommon as it is this kind of withdrawal happens be aware.
Everybody's reaction to withdrawal is different. I started smoking in 1996 as a teen. I just quit for about the 10th time ( hopefully for good). Withdrawals are real. There are toxins coming out of my body. I have all the symptoms stated above and have had them every time I stopped. Speak for yourself. Every persons reaction to detox/withdrawal is their own. More severe withdrawals are real.8seep
Government lies every day so dont kid yourself !
You really have absolutely no understanding of addiction and how it affects everyone differently. Comments like yours contribute to the problem even more, making it harder for those suffering from addiction and withdrawal to seek help because theres a stigma surrounding marijuana addiction. Not everyone that drinks becomes an alcoholic. Not everyone that gambles will lose their homes to debt. There are still plenty that will. I'm 8 years into daily usage, and through most of the first 5 years of that, a 3.5 would last a week. I'd go through 7 tops if I was smoking it with roommates or at parties, and in those 5 years, I never went more than an occasional night here and there without smoking. I never made it to two days because the lack of sleep and cold sweats would lead me right back to my dealer the next day to put myself in my body's comfort zone. On the several times I took breaks from it after those first 5 years, it actually wouldn't be so bad... As long as I could make it through the first two nights, I'd last weeks and occasionally months without a problem. Fast forward to the last year which has been rather difficult for many personal reasons, and my use shot up from 3.5-7 a week, to a full ounce never lasting me more than 5 or 6 days. My dealer knows that if he sees me on a Monday this week, it means he sees me again by Saturday to pick up a fresh ounce, spending anywhere up to $700/m on pot. My rent doesn't even cost me that much. Most of it I smoke alone now. I'm currently in my third attempt to get myself off this path of self-destruction, which I've failed the last two because I'm violently nauseous without it. I vomit until there's nothing left in me to come out but oily bile, and then gag for hours as my gut wrenches but has nothing to put out. I'm on day 4 right now, and I've only made it this far this time because I'm taking Gravol and forcing myself to eat despite feeling like garbage still, and I'm powering through the vomiting. The worst part is that I was smoking so much that all it would do anymore was restore my sense of feeling "normal" and let me eat. 4 days off, and I feel high as a kite right now as being sober has flipped and become what my body interprets as an altered state of mind. Ive been out driving twice since stopping, and never have I felt so disoriented when driving. I've also completely pulled away from everyone over the past 3 months, including my best friends, family, and my two godchildren I love dearly because my mood swings are out of control and I'm scared of being around the people I care about at any given moment. Will I be my formerly happy self, or will I be a cynical &#$%$ that bites off my best friends head again because she asked me if I saw the latest episode of Archer, or that yells at his landlord to "stop being so $&%#ing nosey" because she politely asked how I'm doing. If you'd asked me two years ago if I thought THIS was possible, I seriously doubt I'd say yes... But two years ago I never pictured myself as someone that would start smoking over an ounce a week either. I fully support recreational use and legalization, but I also recognize that as much as I was able to more or less casually enjoy it over my first few years, I'm officially a full blown addict at this point, and no matter how long I've made it on each attempt to quit or take a break, each time I've taken one puff with friends has led to me reaching out to my dealer and re-entering my daily usage periods for months on end, each time consuming more than the last time I quit. I can't allow myself to ever touch it again. So please, tell us again how it's not addictive, what with your vast wisdom, knowledge, and experience. What are you even doing browsing and posting on an addiction support site if you don't believe in it? I dare you... Smoke your brains out on an ounce a week for months straight, quit, and then come share your experiences on how pleasant and symptomless it was for you.
Hello I just wanted to tell you that your doing so well and keep up the good work keep pushing through despite all the mood swings and when you feel really low it will gst better just be patient and seek all the help you can x
Thank you, finally someone who ain't in denial! Yup sound like a responsible person, someone who has no issues in admitting that they had a problem unlike these others who try say it ain't a problem. I've beaten coke diction, been a crack head for years, but getting rid of cannabis is the hardest things I've ever had to do! Good luck, I've been in bed all day, only day two lol
i realize this was posted awhile ago, but your comment is false. It completely depends on the person. I, too have been a user since I was 13, and everytime I go a few days without it, I suffer from headaches, nausia, and shaking. I've also experienced several panic & anxiety attacks whilst attempting to stay sober. So, yes, withdrawles do exist, it's not just "in our head".
Did you read the article or are you just sticking to your ignorant opinion, "1 of 6 people suffer from withdrawals" so you probably aren't one, I on the other hand have also smoked for 10 years before I quit, and started at 13, and definitely went through every single one of these symptoms, so just because it hasn't happened to you doesn't mean that it's not true
Well then you got lucky didn't you I've known other people go through withdrawal symptoms and it has a massive effect to them actually and currently looking after a 15 year old who has quit for 3 weeks now first two and half days he has cyclic vomiting syndrome and he has been very irratable mood swings depressed high anxiety etc your comment is very ignorant and the withdrawals can differ from person to person consider urself very lucky that you don't have to go through these withdrawals


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