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 have been smoking weed for 3 years (started at 18). I recently last week decided to stop because I was smoking about 6-8 blunts a day everyday. About 5 days ago I began to have a real bad stomach ache. Thinking it was diarrhea I went to restroom and I defalcated 2 times in one day but the stomach pains are still going on as we speak. I really don't have much of an appetite. When will the Marijuana Withdrawal end or what can I do to ease or get rid of the pain?

You are very courageous. This could be one of the most important things you have ever done for your health and well-being. As for the withdrawal symptoms, some people feel better in a day or two; for others it takes a lot longer. It depends on how often you used, how much you used, and your personal biology. If you are uncomfortable, please do not use it as an excuse to start using again. You might consider consulting a medical professional who may be able to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

Im on my 3rd day of not smoking any weed and i am for sure feeling withdrawls. Its hard for me to go to work because i don't want to be around anybody, i have no appetite, and can't fall asleep hardly at all during the night. Not to mention the massive headaches that ive been getting and the major depression. Marijuana withdrawl is real and theres no denying that
I've stopped smoking cold turkey countless times and the withdrawal symptoms are non-existent. Sometimes I stopped smoking for no reason other than to prove to myself that I don't need it. Sure, I lose some of my appetite. But I still eat when I'm hungry. Marijuana is not a necessity. People don't need it to keep living. If you ask me, people are just weak. Especially those teenagers that "can't eat or sleep if they don't smoke". Pathetic.
The weed detox is nothing compared to opiates ,benzo's or alcohol. If you think your weed detox is difficult, go to a detox center for opiates. watch the people all laying there, sick and unable to move. weed is a time thief. It will steal years from you. Things you could have done or jobs that could have been. Why would anyone want to give control to a plant that will basically alter the perception center in your brain and take control of the central nervous system is beyond.
Quit 10 days ago after fairly steady use for, oh, about 20 years. Have quit for some stretches before and never really noticed any symptoms, but last night out of nowhere I got super chilly (even though thermostat said 78) and registered a fever of 101. Sweated and tossed and turned all night. Figured I was coming down with a "summer flu" or something, but then started researching THC withdrawal...yeah, pretty sure that's what I'm experiencing. I've always heard there's no such thing, but that's BS. Also explains why I've been in a such a pissy mood all week toward the wife and kids. Fever is gone today and I'm feeling pretty good. Going for a bike ride now!
Marijuana withdrawal is real but it's not even in the same galaxy as opiates.
I have been a marijuana addict for 18 years, from the time I was 14. During that time, I had 6 months straight use of cocaine, which I stopped by myself with no treatment, 6 months straight use of Heroin/Oxycontin, which I stopped by myself with no treatment, and 3 months straight of opium use, which I stopped by myself with no treatment but went through NASTY withdrawal. I have been free from it for 19 days now, when during my use the longest I would go without using was maybe 2 or three days MAXIMUM. Over the course of the last three months, I have had serious anxiety and depression problems. I felt, and was told by many, that I was hopeless. Deciding to stop using was both the best, and worst thing I could have done. I say that because while I was glad to be free of Marijuana, I DID go through serious withdrawal that I could only liken to what it was like getting off opium. I had bad night sweats, fits of anxiety and depression that were crippling, nausea, fevers, and of course, restlessness. Now, 19 days in, most of the symptoms have subsided, but I came to a startling realization: I do not know how to cope with emotions and/or feelings without having marijuana to use as a crutch to get me through. In light of this, my shrink told me to find some marijuana anonymous meetings. I looked at him and said "F** you I don't need that bullsh!t I just told you I've been clean." After consulting with my best friend (who is 10 years sober and a recovering heroin addict), I decided to try one of those meetings. I am eternally grateful to my shrink, and my best friend having done so. I learned what I already felt inside, that ANY drug use stunts emotional growth. So here I am 32, and still feeling and acting like I'm 14. I know I have a long way to go, but I have something I didn't have before: HOPE. If you, or someone you know, has an addiction problem, PLEASE go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, or a Marijuana Anonymous meeting, or even an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. All 3 of them provide the blueprint that is the most successful path to sobriety, and emotional growth. I am very grateful to have found these programs, and I know that in time, I will be exactly where I want to be. GO FIND A MEETING IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU MAY HAVE A PROBLEM, EVEN IF YOU FEEL YOU CAN'T STOP. There is a Marijuana Anonymous app out there that you can download, and use to find meetings, both online and in person. Download it, use the chatroom, ask questions. You will not be sorry. Yes, there is a withdrawal involved, but the glory of your finest day will certainly overshadow the pain of the withdrawals. I wish everyone here luck, but just know, the programs WORK IF YOU WORK THEM. Take care all
I’ve been smoking for 40 years now cut down and started vaping instead but the reality is I just got more stoned and found it harder to function of course felt better without the cigarettes but I’m in day 10 after I finally stopped kidding myself that it wasn’t really a problem it is 3.58 am I’ve just woken from a very unpleasant dream and I’m looking at a website about cannabis withdrawal symptoms! I’ve had all of the above and no doubt all that is to follow which I’m not going to read anymore, I’m 59 years old and enough is enough ,I have felt emboldened by what I have read so far and I’m going to stop so many thanks everybody, those who make sneering comments I feel sorry for because that was me 30 years ago, I been lucky in life but I’m sick of all the sneaking around and scoring every couple of months, I’m very well known in my local community and I’m pretty sure no one suspects I smoke cannabis, If busted I would probably lose everything I’ve worked for so I will see this though, so please if you are trying to stop stick with it because you are mostly lightweights compared to me and if I can do it you guys certainly can,all the best all
I'm just about to turn 40 and my present to myself is to give up the weed. Smoking since I was 15 started on resin as skunk was so expensive and hard to get in the UK now it has become more prevalent and is so f**king strong. As I have just wrote that I can actually taste it, 3 days clean I'm sweating like a fat kid in a sauna headaches but my I feel clearer happier and more alert. I have to do this for my son and partner I had started not going to family events just so I could stay home and get high. Good luck to everyone
All in all, the reviews seem to have something in common; good people trapped in bad habits. Marijuana in my experience, only 25years, can best be described being best friends with an armed robber; and guess what? You’re always quick to defend it until you look back into your life and realise how much you’ve lost to it(career, money, potentials, abilities, health, opportunities etc) and how immature you actually can be without it. I’ll call it a DEMON that masquerades as a friend
Been smoking for 10+ years, I've quit before and had some withdrawal symptoms. I'm currently on day 3 after stopping cold turkey after smoking a 1/2oz per 4-5 days by myself. I haven't slept since I quit and I've been super negative and always sweating lol but I guess it's just part of reaping what you sow.... I have noticed a huge help from going to the sauna and trying to sweat more, and lots of prayer for a positive mindset!
I'm only 18 years old, and i've been smoking marijuana every day for 6 years. There's not a day in between I didn't smoke. I'm talking anywhere from 1 to 4 blunts daily. Where I come from though, marijuana is just a part of daily life. Everybody I know smokes weed. And it's known as a good thing, something to relax you after a long day. Nothing wrong with it. I've always ever looked at it that way myself. Recently though, I've realized just how addicted i've become. I don't look foward to anything accept coming home to smoke a blunt at night. It's become one of my main priorities. I never go to sleep without smoking first. It's 10:26 pm right now, and I want a blunt more than anything right now. But this is my 2nd day clean in 6 years. I feel irritable AS HELL. angry and annoyed. I have a headache thats killing me. But these craving are killing me 10x more. Having to stay busy to distract myself from how I'm feeling. Didnt know weed had withdraws. All I've ever heard was that it isnt a drug. It definitly is a drug. I really hope I can stay clean. I'm starting college in January for Criminal Justice. There's a different path I want to approach that doesn't include smoking weed. But man is my anxiety off the wall. Wish me luck. Day 2 . I hope it gets easier from here......

It's wonderful that you're quitting! Good luck and stay strong! Ask your doctor or health care provider for assistance and support, if needed.

I just want to get my life back. I hope I have the great life I had before when I had not realized.
Do you have any sources that aren't the NIH or your own blog posts?

As a federal scientific research agency, we can only share links/link to websites/accept guest blog posts from people or groups with whom we have a substantial partnership, such as other federal agencies and non-profit groups. This also ensures that the information is reliable. If you have a specific request for information, please reference this webpage https://teens.drugabuse.gov/about-us/contact-us for information on how to get in touch with us.

This is day one for me, which brought me to this article for support. I've smoke for about 12 years. Throughout the 12 years, I quit three times. Each time was extremely hard, but so worth it in the end. I don't know why I went back to it. This time I plan on stopping for good. The withdrawals were so real, but so worth it in the end. It's good to see others going threw the same thing. I saved a tremendous amount of money and I loved my cloudy free way of thinking. I want to concentrate on my daughter and my career. Marijuana is just not in my forefront anymore. I don't like feeling dependent on a substance. I look at my daughter and see how happy she is and I remember when I was a kid with no dependencies, I felt like I made better choices. I know it's going to be hard but the outcome is so worth it. Mind over matter and Marijuana is not a necessity. Good luck all!
I've smoked everyday and night since I was 17. I am now 23 trying to quit to better myself so i wanted to ask everyone for some advice or any hacks to help me with the withdrawals. It's only my second day being weed-free and I already have been having weird vivid dreams, restlessness along with fatigue during the day. Also my anxiety and depression has been messing me up. I've been drinking at night to help me sleep and with my nerves but I already have had problems with drinking in the past so I would hate it If I fell back into that.. anything helps, thank you all and congrats for overcoming any addiction with drugs/alcohol . It's harder than anyone thinks.
I have been a heavy user since 2002. I have never used another drug other than nicotine so I can only compare the two. I recently stopped using marijuana cold turkey it's been 14 days and have experienced irritability, night sweats, loss of focus, I'm very nervous. I wake up from horrible dreams and am restless the rest of the night. Last night was night 14 and was the first night with a full nights sleep. I believe all other symtoms have subsided as well. From day one of quitting I didn't crave it like I would a cigarette if I didn't have one. I can say I would catch myself thinking about it in my usual smoking spots but never a crave feeling.
Hi I am 14 I know very young but I have been smoking for over a year now. Last year I stopped for 6 months after failing a drug test givin by my parents but then somehow got back on it. It's become just a priority to me now. Like look at me it's 1am and I'm looking up weed withdraws because I am expierencing it at the moment. All I want to do is go and smoke right now . I've only stopped for two days when I was supposed to stop two weeks ago but just kept finding myself upon it. I hate that I have to rely on it but I didn't eat one thing today. I feel very depressed. I overthink every thing and feel lonely without it. It made me who I am and now without it I just dk what todo . I feel so stupid doing this Ima just go but weed withdraw is real hopefully this ends soooon.

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