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

I don't know how fast I'll get a response, but I have a brother that has been smoking since he was in his teens. He is freaking 40 now and says he's trying to quit. He has been in and out of jail, and he lies so much I don't know his lies from his truths. None the less he is at my house now, and he asked to stay so he can quit. Now I'm not sure if he is for real cus I heard this before but he has been at my house now for 3 days and all he does is sleep. He gets up showers eats and then goes back to sleep. I asked him if he has pain he said no. So I don't know what is or was he on. But he said he wanted to stay away from his frds because they help him smoke. Does anyone recognize this symptom? Thanks.

Your brother seems to have a caring sister, and a safe place to stay while he tries to quit. While we can’t offer medical advice, we do recommend consulting with a health care provider to ask for assistance specific to your geographic area and your brother’s needs and willingness to get help. You’re also doing him a great service by continuing to ask questions, and listen when he’s ready to talk.

For all you quitters out there dont try cold turkey. Instead decrease the amount of intake gradually, over a couple of weeks. It will let you down easy and you will remember what self control in regards to weed feels like. Smoked for 15yrs loved it but its time to move on I want to be myself again i cant really remember what thats like excited to find out, hope Im not a total douche. Good luck. God bless
Unfortunately, I'm going cold turkey. I've been a heavy daily smoker for the last 16 years and was randomly drug tested at work and got popped. I'm on day 6 of my detox and it's very tough. I have the diarrhea and insomnia very bad. The first couple nights it wasn't too bad but the last few nights have been really tough. Absolutely no sleep and in the bathroom almost every hour. My mind is starting to feel clear but at the same time, the mental side effects from insomnia are bringing me down. I wish there was an easier way
I'm going through them right now. The anxiety and sleep deprivation is killing me. This is the first year I experienced something like this. I only smoke on the weekends now. But. I was smoking every day for a year straight. I think that did it's toll. This isn't terrible mind you but it's a nuisance. Every weekend is like a godsend. I sleep fine. And I don't feel anxious. The anxiety and hot flashes I've been getting are the worst. I need to go to AA but I'd rather not be made fun of . Like who the hell goes to AA for weed??
Ive gone to AA for my pot addiction and never felt Judged. But the best is Marijuana Anonymous (MA). Nice to be in a group,of recovering stoners!
Thankyou for this post. I will give this to my daughter.
Try MA brother
Just remember, nothing is forever. If you want to quit... quit! Suffer the pains but don't forget them. They are there to give you added incentive to stay away from it when you become tempted in the future. Time will heal your pain, but you must endure it. Nothing worth achieving is easy. That is life's design and I believe it is on purpose. I am sure you have heard all things in moderation. My marijuana withdrawal was so mild I hardly noticed, but I smoked less than a gram a day. The best option for those of you with more difficult withdrawals is to keep busy. If your withdrawl gets bad, don't just sit there thinking about it, do something productive. Clean your room, do your homework, work on a special project, or work out. The activity will serve as a distraction and eventually you will realize that the pain is gone and your house is sparkling, your grades have improved, you created something awesome, or you are in better health. Stop focusing on your pain... use your pain to focus; or better yet, focus your pain to achieve something.
I smoke 3.5 grams a day over the last 16 years, I've given up and started many times. The withdrawal effect's are real. I'm on day 6 currently clean having sever night sweats, nightmares, loss of appetite, feeling nausea most the day combined with the 'runs' also very irritable So anyone saying you don't is talking rubbish, it's likely related to how much you smoke For reference I buy 3.5 grams a day for £30 that's gets me 8 to 10 joints.
Ive smoked for four years now. All I can say is I am about to quit again MONDAY. It took me months to be able to quit for a day. At first I had to take hours then more hours then a day. This year I have taken small breaks when I moved two months ago I took longer breaks I was used to smoking 3 to 11 blunts of loud a day I was down to a blunt or two every other day. I'm saying that to say I did some reading and really took time to think is this drug bigger than me?? My boyfriend is quitting sugar and pork and im quitting smoking. You have to find someone who doesn't smoke it will help. I promise
I had the same problem quitting man. I used to mainly smoke at night before bed and smoked everyday for 2 weeks straight. After 2 days of quitting and I find myself having very strange feeling and realistic feeling dreams. I woke up sweating and very scared. I just prayed and tried to not worry about it. Made it through the rest of the night and no nightmares thank goodness but still very lucid dreams so real it was scary feeling.
How the hell can anyone (other than Bill Gates) afford an eighth a day???
Are you sure someone didnt slip u spice instead....this is crazy
same here..smoked in the hot shower last week 30 minutes later was in the back of anbulance trembling.. my left arm veins still feel weird when i take a hot shower
I had a similar experience to the both of you. I smoked a blunt and then laid on my heating pad, I used both frequently together as I have Fibromyalgia and do not take Prescription drugs to control it. I all of a sudden started feeling chest pain that radiated down my left arm as well as pressure on my jaw....I really thought I was having a heart attack! A trip to the ER ruled out heart failure so I left, the next couple days were hell! I din't realize the weed caused the symptoms until I realized every time I smoked I was feeling like my blood pressure dropped to a deadly low. Long story short, the marijuana was causing panic attacks. Who would of thought after 20 years of smoking that suddenly it would cause a panic disorder? I am working on totally cutting it out of my life, the struggle is real because this is the only thing that has helped with my chronic pain, the meds they give cause severe depression and I had to fight for my life to get out of that rut. I don't know how I am going to do this, but I do know the time is now and it can be done.
Yooooo I'm so glad I read this right now, was planning on having some edibles and a long, hot shower to relax, definitely not going to anymore. I was aware that smoking lowers blood pressure but had no idea that combined with a hot shower I could experience a bad trip. Thanks for the info!
I am experiencing headaches and depression. I sometimes feel paranoid and think things that don't exist. This is week three without it. How long does the withdrawal last

Withdrawal can take days to weeks. If you have had symptoms of psychosis (for example, hallucinations) it can take even longer. If you are really struggling, we recommend you see a therapist at least for a while to help you through the depression. If you have health insurance, your insurance company can find you a name of a therapist in your area. If you are still in school, you school might have a counselor you can use. You might also consider getting a consultation with a doctor who specializes in drug use. You can find the name of a doctor here https://asam.ps.membersuite.com/directory/SearchDirectory_Criteria.aspx .

What you guys experienced is called a panic attack. Blood pressure dropping from a hot shower can't affect your mind. And you can't have withdrawals unless the drug is leaving your system.
I am where you are now after 30 years of smoking morning noon and night. I stopped 5 weeks ago. And first few weeks fine but next few weeks I am going through hell never in my life experienced such physical pain all over my body I am in total depths of depression. Shaking violently with cold just want to curl up in bed and die I have no cravings for a puff but I am feeling very very unwell
I wanted to say that i have smoked for about 40 years, , but im also bi-polar, it works very well for me, but trying to stop is hard, when i have my smoke i feek good happy and have lots of energy. when I try to quit, I cant sleep, not hungery, and want that feeling of pain to go away, as soon as i have a smoke im fine, , want to quit want to feel happy,
Hi I too have smoked it for 30 years. I thinking of stopping, the cost is so much. It costs £50 a week. .
I smoked 365days straight, basically a year, never missed a day, come forth 2days ago , i decided enough was enough. went to swimming intensivly every day for a week(still kept smoking until 2days ago). what really helped me was the use of cognitive drugs :Aniracetam which gave me a sense of relief and forget all about weed, as it enhanced my thinking ability, just like how your mind wanders on weed.this also enforced my will power towards saying no and reliefed anxiety. the withdrawel symptoms i have experienced were light headiness , cloudy eyes and feeling drained. what really scared me about withdrawel is when i read online stuff like ....' oh it depends in how long your brain takes to rewire' for some reason this freaked me out. so on the 2nd night i was sitting my room feeling the symptoms kind of not knowing what my next move was. remembering the stuff i read about brains , i was like , wait hold on, why not just play online brain exercises to speed up the rewiring process. so i sat on my laptop for 10 mins doing so. guys!! instantly i felt refreshed and light, day 3 and i haven't smoked , kinda weired doing everything i did but with a forgotton perspective.
I have been smoking for 40 years and I gave it up five days ago , I'm going through hell , my body hurts , I have no appetite , I've sweat every night and just feel like I want to die. , Anyway got to keep going ,,
Any advice on the anxiety and depression part ? It's so intense ..makes me wanna punch the wall or scream when I get the panick attack. I downloaded an app called headspace which helps but when will the withdrawals stop? I have been clean now for 3 solid weeks and am miserable for about 45 min 2-3 times a day.
I get those all the time, i just go with it all out yelling and just concentrate on being angry until you realise you're being angry because you are just thinking about being angry and its at the moment I laugh and the anger dissipates for me. People saying its not a problem have no withdrawls and then say that its been 2 days since you last smoked as if thats a long time, with other water-soluble drugs that is the case and usually within 72 hours symptoms subside, with marijuana its subtle but escalates, and then gets worse.
Accept what's happening - "I'm going through withdrawal and having a panic attack." Yeah, this won't happen calmly mentally, but stay grounded in reality. Panic attacks can suck. So can a burning building. You'll be able to get out if you focus on what is happening. Remind yourself emotions are light switches for survival and you're in no true physical danger. Work on breathing exercises and posture. Get exercise and force yourself to eat breakfast and stay hydrated. Do things that increase physical, mental, and/or emotional activity, so you don't become grounded inactively in panic or patterns of anxiety. Use a rule of 2 weeks for forming patterns and habits. Pay attention to when you feel a little better. Just like when you first start a substance, time away sucks because of low tolerance. When you quit, you have to rebuild complete tolerance to sobriety. In a sense, sobriety is the new drug that you have to willingly and consciously focus on the positive aspects. Drugs usually shut off deductive motivation, but appeal physically and/or emotionally. Whether you notice a change after 2 weeks... Maybe less... Maybe more. Acknowledge it and wait for the next benchmark. Or watch Fight Club and What About Bob
This is the best advice I have ever seen.
Me to, smoked 3yrs, going crazy, 1 week down, had a dream, these # I saw over and over 6 1 6, googled it , 6:16 bible scripture , no religious, but it gave me a plan, now I'm movie and will make up for the lose. My goal is to make my mind feel high with sure determination. Let's play!
Me to, smoked 3yrs, going crazy, 1 week down, had a dream, these # I saw over and over 6 1 6, googled it , 6:16 bible scripture , no religious, but it gave me a plan, now I'm movie and will make up for the lose. My goal is to make my mind feel high with sure determination. Let's play!
Thank you for sharing your story. I've been a heavy weed smoke for 13 years and one day I just started feeling sad and empty. I'm ready to make a change its been about two weeks since I quit and everyday is a struggle. But I know its for the better.
I have been quited marijuna fore 15 days i m feeling the same symptoms but how much time wwill it take more ?

Hi Muna, marijuana withdrawal symptoms usually peak a few days after quitting and may last for up to two weeks, according to this NIDA research: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/mariju... That being said, we can't say how drugs or withdrawal will affect you specifically, so please contact a doctor if you have concerns. You can also get information about drug abuse treatment programs at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Sounds like u got high and had a panic attack it happens
I'm glad you stopped. You don't need to live in an altered state to cope with life. Learn to experience it raw, your feelings are real and you actually LIVE your life. God bless!
Amen to that
Why do people assume that the only reason people use weed is to cope with life. There are plenty of happy people who have or still smoke week. I am not saying that it is not addictive, just trying to clear up a misconception.
this is for people trying to quit and move on with life. You don't belong here.
No it's not wtf? It's "informative" nothing else.
What drug where you smoking? Doesn't sound like cannabis
That must of been some good dope!
You stole the words out my mouth well seid
lmao that was spice
God bless you Anatasia. Today I am clean for first time in year and half and I appreciate you sharing because it inspires me and I too have a healthy body and gifts to share but I cannot while using. It is better than alcohol but not much. Love you. Big hugs.
Sounds like you have worse problems than just lot addiction. I smoked 40 years. Half oz. A week. Slite erritabillity for few days. That's it.
you must smoked leaf pal
I agree must have been leaves. I have smoked for 21 years a couple years in between where I took breaks because I either had a psychotic break or just wanted to function without it because it consumed my life. Marijuana might be fun for the first couple years when you first start but eventually you'll find you need it to do everything. I appreciate the honesty of so much of you because I can relate to most of your stories. Last Christmas I experienced exhaustion after smoking to the point where I lost the strength in my body. I was so scared I started to pray and ask God to give me the strength to stand up. I did however after that I became fearful anxious and could not concentrate. I ended up going to the hospital. I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder and placed on meds. I'm now one month off meds and coping. Is hard because I am experiencing lightheadedness anxiety at times. I came to this site because I felt like marijuana had a lot to do with what I have gone through. I was dependent on it for many years. Marijuana might be fun but beware they should have that disclaimer on every bag. If you can quit do it now!!! It's not worth the make believe security you feel. I found a lot of my strength to stay away from it through the lord. Changing lifestyles educating myself, changing friends and other ways to cope helped me thus far. I am 6 months free and hope to be even more stable on my moods. Be encouraged you don't have to live your life hooked be free from that drug. You know for yourself when its not fun anymore. Taking away your appetite for real food, draining your pockets, stealing your strength, rubbing you of the real you. Then it will take you time to find yourself again. You don't have to fight the battle alone just visiting this sight shows that you still have some motivation and fight in you. Quit it will be worth it in the long haul. God bless you and who cares if they call you stupid and laugh at you cause you want to stop. They just don't have the guts to quit themselves and misery likes company!!!
Have you considered the fact that maybe because you were bypolar you are more likely to smoke weed?
What you just described was most likely a panic attack, which can commonly happen sometimes, THC can react weirdly with the chemicals in your brain, specially this is most common with sativa strains, but everything you described here sounds like a panic attack, i get them too which is why i go out of my way to only smoke indica

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