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

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
Your smoking crack
God not real, and if it is then your religion is just as not likely being correct ad every single other myth. Thank you and your welcome.
Maybe it was laced with something?
Thank you so much for that.. it really gave me hope!
You greened out must've had some quality bud had the same experience Except with edibles
You were just hallucinating.... Lol....priceless. If you scared yourself that bad then NO, YOU DO NOT NEED TO SMOKE WEED.....LOL
Hay ive had the same experience have you found out why and would i be able to contact you ?
Hi John, we don't allow posting contact information on this site. If you have concerns, please contact a doctor or one of these resources: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Treatment Services Locator - https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
I've been smoking for 6 years. I decided it was enough, I didn't need to be dependent or addicted to any foreign chemical. Don't let ANYONE fool you. Withdrawal symptoms are so very real. It's been 12 days, please pray for me. I wake up sweating. I have diarrhea. I eat incredibly healthy mind you. I have had sleep paralysis. I've also peed in my sleep a week in (I'm 24 years old stopped using diapers at age 4). I also keep dreaming about using again. I didn't know it was this serious. I had no idea. I need to get through this so my fogged mind can function to its full capacity. I'm afraid I might relapse. Every day feels like a month. I have headaches as wel but appetite significantly better now.
........ people on this blog make me facepalm...... these are NOT effects of weed in the long term or short term. They described the possible symptoms above, and mind you they are very minor and do not last more than a few weeks. If these things are truly happening to you, you should probably ask a doctor. There could be a serious potential problem.
Hi, i had similar experience as you about a month ago. I stopped smoking both cigarates and weed. But right now I'm starting to have more depression and anxiety since tow days. I'm so depressed and I think I'm Gona die and I feel too helpless sobering Is it normal?
Hi Farzan, if you are feeling depressed, you may want to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or a doctor in your area.
Wow. I've been smoking since since 15. Im 25 now and about 3 weeks ago I had a medicaly lly related panic attack. Thinking something was horribly wrong with me like you Ana. By the time i went to urgent care and back home I felt fine. But the next time I smoked, the same thing happened. Horrible panic attack. It was a combo of weed plus a lot of different stresses in my life. That and my constant worry that something is medically wrong. Sent me off the deep end. I missed 14 hours of work and got prescribed xanax because after my last panic attack I hadn't smoked but was in a constant state of anxiety. I've only had 3 normal days in 2 weeks. I miss marijuana. I love marijuana. It was always there for me. But I abused it. And it let me know. Once I get my mind and my body right I'll pick it up again. But won't smoke nearly as much. Everything is fine in moderation. People need to realize that yes, marijuana is generally harmless, but can turn on you quick. Hope you get better and feel better. And find your way back to this beautiful spice of life.
As i read this i wondered wow, this is exactly what i am going thru. I have this constant worry that something is medically wrong with me. and am fear of having another panic attack.
Reading your post has changed my life. I've been a long time user and struggling very hard to quit. I did not believe in addiction or withdrawal. This was the push I needed. Thank you:)
That's called a panic attack.. I felt with them for the longest time, no harm behind them, just have to wait it out and no that everything is going to be okay
Thank you so much for sharing. I've been struggling for a minute with smoking marijuana everyday. And I'm on vacation right now experiencing withdrawals it i don't want to smoke anymore. I don't want to abuse my body anymore. I'm too blessed to be creating such turmoil within myself highest gave me the courage to do and be better. Thank you!!
It was probably laced with something
This was pretty helpful as I been a heavy smoker( Marijuana ) for last 8 year's and smoke daily few times a day, so pretty much a heavy smoker. 1 day just out of nowhere when I smoked the feet exactly as you were saying I thought I was dying. I could barely get any sleep and if I did it was like 3 hour and when I did sleep I would have really bad and scary dreams that would force me to have to wake up and I was scared to go to sleep knowing I would be dreaming some scary stuff, and I would wake up from sleep with huge headcahes. Well my question is you said you would have dreams, where your dreams scared you and we're scary to force u to wake up?
Yes..... that is what marijuana does, it CAN cause panic attacks. But there has been no deaths from the use of pot nor have there ever been NEEDED immediate medical trips. Nothing can happen, over the past many many years of its use this should be obvious to you. But if you did have a panic attack, I would stop for a while. You probably already have anxiety and other problems in life that need to be taken care of. The other alternative is smoke less, works for me.
Hey thats great I went through something similar and I have been clean for the last 3 years. Its the best feeling being away from it Now am almost allergic to the smell of it knowing how horrible it is Because I had panic attacks/anxiety attacks when I was a smoker
Congratulations! I am so glad to hear a story so similar to mine. God'd grace is truly amazing
You had a bad high that's it. It's called being paranoid, and you have a panic attack.
That's a awesome story God is stronger than anything we face in life thank you God for your love for us He is our strength in our weakness
Very nice story. I am glad you took the time to write it. God Bless!
All you mentioned was your horrors, you did not mention how long the affects lasted for, or what you did next. Thanks for half a story, that all we as readers can think is maybe this woman has some sort of nerve damage, causing numbness and or is nurotic* and mentally unstable
This happened to me. I am on Day 2 No smoking. God Bless For the HONESTY
I've been using marijuana about over 10 years and now I've been told to stop because of cps issues and now I having withdraws for it ...I only stopped a couple weeks ago
I too had the same kind of experience, was abusing my healthy body and made it a unhealthy one had horrible withdrawal symptoms
Youe were having a panic attack from smoking & getting straight in the shower..glad you quit tho because weed makes panic attacks worst
I went through something really similar! I ve been smoking for 10 years, with a few breaks and had reduced a lot the quantity in the past 2 years. A few days ago I smoked and then a while after I started feeling like I had something in my throat and I kept swallowing but it wasn t going away... my heart started racing and I got so cold I was shivering even in the house with my winter coat on. Than my left side of the body became numb, especially my lung. I had a panick attack after because I thought I was gonna die and I kept praying and promissed I d stop if I made it alive. It passed and than happenned twice again. The whole thing lasted about 2 hours, it was the worst time of my life!!! Somehow I managed to sleep but I had a ball in my chest even the next day. Haven't smoked since, although withdrawal is making me sleepy, depressed and anxious. Hope it will pass. Good luck to everyone quitting! Don t wait to have a big scare before you stop, it s not worth it!!
Thankyou for this comment I thought it was just me that's going through this but I've felt the same way
Vasodilation is a real thing and you wouldn't have a stroke from it. Maybe pass out but not stroke. It seems that most teens that use heavily are predisposed to addiction either d/t genetics or stressful home life. I had a wonderful home life with two great parents and little stress . I smoked with friends on occasion in highschool but was never the kid who was buying or selling it. To anyone using it or thinking about using it, understand your underlying stresses and mental state. Anything that relieves some of that stress could become addictive if the level of stress /depression/ mental issues is great enough. I vape about four nights a week and I've been a nurse for over six years and have taken many breaks to apply for new positions without withdrawal. Also withdrawal effects will happen pretty quick. If you are concerned about WD then take a break for two days. If you have no symptoms then you shouldn't experience anything more than just wanting to chill again. Like someone said above, the powers that be want to make marijuana out to be something it's not. People are addicted to food. Obesity and heart disease related to overeating and tabacoo kills more people every year than anything else. Also religions will ruin experiences that marijuana will give you by causing you to zone in on your"sins". Just relax and thank god for creating such an experience. Free your mind from the slavery of fear. I know the times when I got the most paranoid after smoking and it was when I was you and AFRAID of getting caught or doing something "wrong". Erase all the fear and it can be relaxing and liberating. Sorry for the rant. But seriously marijuana not opiates or benzodiazepines or Etoh. Please try and take care of someone that has been off their Xanax or oxys or booze for 24hrs and you will see the light lol.
Depersonalization.
Good for you! The last time I smoked, I was 18, and thot I was dying!
Hey I've never written in a blog before, but I researched "does marijuana give you withdrawals" and this was one of the first websites that caught my eye. This comment is for everyone to read! I am 25 and when I was 17 I started smoking weed heavily. About 7 blunts a day to be exact. I gained a lot of weight and didn't attend high school much. I somehow graduated and ended up dropping out of college twice. I wouldn't say jt was because of weed but I have suffered from anxiety depression and mood disorder my whole life. So that plus the weed smoking probably didn't help. I eventually got pregnant and was forced to quit smoking. I was terrible. I'm not sure if it was the sudden quitting of smoking, the stopping of my meds, the pregnancy itself or all three! But I somehow got through it and stopped getting sick after around month three. I had my beautiful son and didn't smoke weed after for years. I had accomplished a lot in those years (associates degree, losing 90 pounds). But recently (Sept 2016) I started smoking weed again due to someone in my life constantly doing it. I am now doing it about twice a day and I live with my mother and she is very anti weed. So she reminds me every day that I need to stop etc. I am also a college student about to graduate with my bachelors degree in two months! (May 2017) so although I feel weed has definitely held me back in the past, I know I can handle smoking it much more now. The reason I decided to look this up and write on this forum is because lately (the past 5 weeks) I havee been waking up feeling very nauseas! I work out about 4x a week, I'm pretty healthy. But then nausea has been awful!!! Some days I can over come it and it goes away with time but today I threw up and felt awful! I'm not pregnant! When this started I went to my doctor and got a test done thinking that some how I was. But I was not, thank god. Anyways, I smoked and somehow I didn't feel naiseas antmore. Which leads me to believe that I was feeling sick due to an unconscious want:need for weed. My body was maybe reacting to not having it. I don't usually smoke first thing in the morning, but this weekend i smoked a lot. Anyways if anyone has read this far that's amazing and thank you for taking the time to let me vent! lol I chose to remain anonymous but would welcome any suggestions thoughts or feedback!
Wow, I've had identical symptoms to yours, after smoking, I fell to the ground feeling that I was going to pass out, left side went numb and weak. Have been dealing with confusion and weakness since this episode about 4 days ago. Have you had any symptoms since this? Any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you

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.

Im experiencing withdrawals from smoking for years.pray for me.now im turning to God
Bro, same thing happened with me (numbness). But I felt it in my hand while riding back home after taking a few bong hits. I really fear smoking after that incident and have quit smoking for about 10 days now. I just wanted to ask you that is everything okay with me?
How long did your withdrawl simptoms last like are they completely over?
Hey man I completely understand what you're saying. I recently quit smoking and week & a half ago and to this day I just have no appetite and I have to literally force it down my throat and my stomach just keeps cramping up and i throw it up. Please help ... I'm 19

You are very courageous. This could be one of the most important things you have ever done for your health and well-being. You might consider consulting a doctor for help getting you through this difficult time. Most doctors are happy to help you try to quit using drugs, because they know it is better for your health. Stay focused on your goals, and hang in there.

Hey can I know? How many days this side effects will be there?

This varies. 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, do not use that as an excuse to start using again. Consult a medical professional who may be able to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

Anyone who tells you no withdraw is lying. Even users deny it but I witnessed it with my very own eyes. I am a past drug addict heroin IV user and I know a thing or two about withdrawals. My fiancé doesn't take any drugs even overcountee but he smokes 6 Ls a day. He thinks he could just stop and yes he has stopped in the past but he goes through similar w/d symptoms as H users. Cold chills anxiety horrid mood just irritable pupils dialated. I tell him don't quit cold turkey but he doesn't listen and that's why he relapses. Marijuana addiction is real
The exact same thing happened to me and I've not touched it once after that either
I had a very similar experience, like with the shower and everything. I ended up getting out of the shower before i was finished as well, this was about 3 weeks ago and i ended up going to the hospital and my blood pressure was through the roof and my heart was racing. Maybe it was a bad trip, but i havent done it since. Since the incident, ive been having terrible anxiety, think i have illnesses that i dont, tremors and all sorts of things.
Omg this happened to me.

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