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

You just had a bad trip. I'm surprised you hadn't had one prior to that occasion. The good thing about the bad trip you had is it helped you turn your life round. Bad trips on weed, especially hash, can be a lot worse though.Some people see Hell and Death Angels hovering over them looking to snatch their soul...
thats because you started overthinking the situation (which a lot of people do) started making up reasons and what you could do to fix it. so you pray to god then when it passes you're like ohhhh thank god... a.k.a. you brainwashed yourself
I would like to know more on how the withdrawals effected you mentally. Ive been a daily smoker for the past 3 years and have quit cold turkey and man let me tell you sometimes i feel like im losing my mind and dont even know who i am
Insightful. Just said goodbye to weed 2 days ago after 30 years of every day smoking. Quit booze 5 months ago and kept on smoking. No wonder finances a mess a 60.
Mind over matter...I've been smoking for 20 years. I've been having the urge to quit lately so I just went cold turkey!!! You can do it
Quitting isn't mind over matter for everyone. More answers are needed and not one mold fits all. We all have a different genetic makeup. I smoked for 10 years heavily 1-2 ounces a month and when I quit, I had horrible dizziness, a week of blurred vision and seeing white spots and a lot of depression and cold sweat shakes. The overwhelming anxiety which I felt and had no reason to feel never went away while off pot. It is a feeling I can remember having since being 8 years old. Everything in my head and my heart without pot ticks very fast. In my 30s doctors gave me prescription meds to slow things down but the side effects were so bad, I quit using them and switched to marijuana around 35 and was able to go about my day and workday functioning at a normal level instead of hyper-actively panicking all day. I was able to remain pot free for 3 months over which period of time I felt horrible anxiety every single minute of the day except while sleeping. I also became depressed beyond a point of being able to pull myself out of the bed and was not able to do my job without making horrible mistakes.
I've been smoking weed for 18 years I've just give up due to having drug test at work come back positive I was off work for 2weeks went back they said if they test me again and still positive I would lose my job so had no choice but to stop not looking forward to the weeks ahead all the sytoms I no its for the best but wasn't ready to quit I would like to do it on my own time but need work got my family to think about
you'll do it, the benefits are immense
I just quit again. I'm on day 3 now. I sleep fine. I'm fine while at work. I really don't think about it unil it's down time. That's when u go to the gym or do something moving around. I've quite before for 45 days. I was good. It's up to u. Either way. I quit bc my gf had to quit bc she's a manager now but it's not bad. I smoked errrday for 8 yrs.
Iam also a addict once i smoked three joints a day and it continued for 8 months suddenly i tried to stop i stopped for 10 days on the 11th day night i got my withdrawl symptom like delusions hallucination and run amok which was very worst i got sucidal thoughts and i cut my radial artery then i told my parents all the truth i consulted a senior psychatrist and i went to deadiction now iam free from it so consult a. Pshychatrist whithout a phaician u cant do it take care
Tapering down never helps me. I have to go cold turkey when I run out. If I'm not emotionally ready, I fight it more. Last time I was good for 6 months then a bad day made me relapse. I just got clean again. It caused me to get very angry and I thought I was going to hurt someone, there was so much irrational anger. The next day that was mostly gone, but cravings happened randomly or if I smelled it from anywhere (cover it up with incense). I'm 35 and I've been smoking on and off since I was 18. The time before this my personality really went downhill. I was depressed and anxious and my only coping skill was smoking after work. I talked about it all the time and had low empathy. I was selfish and self absorbed and impatient. This time I noticed that my real, weird personality came back when I quit. I forget when I use that I stop being enjoyable to be around, stop having a personality, lose interest in a lot. I don't do things that I can't do high, I don't go near people I can't be high around. Reddit has a community for those who want to quit, and resources to help you. The subreddit is called /r/leaves. You will probably have a loss of appetite, night sweats, maybe vivid nightmares. Going for walks or getting other exercise and activity helps many of us get past it easier. Many relapse at some point, from one reason or another. It helps you learn how you are susceptible ("I think I can use it better this time... ") and remind you that you have the power to quit. I didn't want to quit this time, I was struggling against my addicted self. I didn't feel ready to let go. That one horrible day of anger and suddenly I was glad to be free and felt empowered, despite the rest of the physical withdrawals. Some people absolutely can use weed without noticing it stealing their life. I have no problem with alcohol, or anything else I've dabbled with. Only weed seems to have this type of hold on me. We are all different, and just because one person doesn't get affected this way doesn't invalidate that many others do. There wouldn't be support groups if that were the case. Whenever a smoker cannot admit that it can act this way, it's either denial or ignorance and ego talking. It damn well can and does steal people from their lives. Being honest isn't demonizing weed, it's helping people be informed. Many addicted struggle with low self worth because everyone says what is happening to them isn't possible. They feel like scum to be the only ones who "can't handle" something "soft" like weed. Be safe out there, whether you use responsibly to aid you life, or whether you struggle with its worse properties. You are stronger than any substance.
I know this was a few months ago, but I found myself relating to your post. I, too need help and just recently quit cold turkey. It's officially day 3 since I've used and I most definitely am feeling the negative affects. I can't seem to keep food down, I'm extremely nauseous and get headaches from time to time. However, despite these negative symptoms, I'm mentally prepared to continue this journey WITHOUT the bud. If something can make me feel this awful, it's not worth using in the future. You can do it too, you just have to be aware that it won't be easy OR fun necessarily. But if I can do it, so can you! Believe in yourself. Good luck. :)
It's best to decline your use until it's just one hit a day. Your natural canabanoid levels drop through the floor when you quit because your brain is used to high levels from out side sources and temporarily stops producing the normal amount. Letting yourself down slow let's your brain know that it needs to start making its own again. 1 hit a day will be small enough to let you be sober most of the day and get somewhat used to it again.
I have quit this week after being a heavy user. Im experiencing insomnia, irrtability, depression and my emotions are everywhere. I will never smoke marijuana again . its been a very hard week but im lucky that my husband is a good support system and is tolerating my behavior. I have come to the realization thc is addictive.
Jesus is the answer
Hi Jared, I am a 56 yr old woman, who has been smoking marijuana for 30 years!! I smoked all day every day! I have lung and heart issues now! Yesterday my acupuncturist did the treatment for quitting smoking!! I felt better immediately! But after four hours I started to feel irritable and anxious!! Had trouble with sleeping and didn't have an appetite!! But this morning I have eaten breakfast just fine and am still anxious and irritable!! I haven't wanted to smoke though!! I hope it lasts! Good luck!!
The exact same thing happened to me but I'm only 14 tears old
I'm a 32 yr old woman who's been smoking pot for 15 yrs, about an ounce a week, I've relapsed a couple of times - but now I've been clean for 5 days and I'm not going back. Throw out your bong, bowl, everything -delete your dealers numbers... Try and sleep it off for a couple of days, you may have withdrawal like me, depression, sweating, moodiness..but it should ease off after a few days. You gotta get your mind off it - what do u like as much as smoking cones?..if your like me probably nothing but you gotta try and occupy your mind, force yourself to eat, and sleeep. And yep cold turkey. Good luck matey.
I've quit a few times after long term "dependent" use and it's always been cold turkey. It's obviously the fastest way to do it. I just quit again 48 hours ago and that's why I'm on this website...ive had very minimal appetite and some serious sweating and body over heating. And ive been very irritable, everything seems to bother me and it's amplified. But I personally have no head or body aches.
best way is to go cold turkey.. I been smoking for 22 years now. I had to quit a few years ago for a job but i started right back up after i quit job after 1 year. that was 8 years ago.. I had to stop smoking 4 days ago because im taking a 2 month vac to philippines. they do drug test on ppl and if you have thc in blood they throw you in jail.. I smoke 1/2 oz every week of the best weed you can get. most of the time its around 35-48% thc. Only problem i have when I quit is sleeping
Yeah that's how I quit but the withdrawal symptoms gave me extreme anxiety and I didn't even no what anxiety was
Its gotta be your own choice, and not forced. Your mind can alter the habbit within couple days. Its a mental habbit that you need to convince and take control of. Enough is enough cuz all pots doing is bringing you down or keeping you still. Never get ahead. I bet its been awhile since you been truly proud of yourself? Well after one day of not smoking you feel more and m9re proud. Keep mind busy watch movies Appetite will be gone for almost week Sleeping at night is tough for a week sweating while you sleep for weekish. Take sleeping aid. I promise its easier then you think. I guess the more spirtual faith you have the easier it is. I was chronic smoker ounce week sat in my car 8 hours alone out of day smoking blunt after blunt for years. Relized the frustration from my job is gettin in way of me quiting. Woke up monday morning threw weed out and quit my job. Cuz i know right now im more valuable with my foundation as a person put together. No bad withdrawals at all. Easier then you think promise. If i can do it anyone can. I explained to my mom its like this, when your high everyday and your not happy, all you did was put yourself in a dark trance. Get out of that trance it can literally be as easy as snapping your fingers
yes
My sin needs help,want to know if you know of any other way to quit besides cold turkey and outpatient treatment

We recommend your review our Step by Step Guide: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-te... You can find inpatient treatment by checking out some of the links in this guide. We wish you well.

Hi Guys, i have just recently stopped cold Turkey and have seen a doctor in the process which has prescribed Welbutrin as well as Urbanol for the aggression. It is not easy, i am experiencing heavy depression, sweats and shakes, and even having the odd suicide thought, which i know sounds extreme but it can push you to a point where you feel you no longer have control and dont have a clue how you are going to deal with it. But one thing that we need to remember is that the brain is the most powerful thing in the human body and we all have the power to resist the urge and more importantly to stop this harmful drug. Dont get me wrong the side effects are real but it is not a long road until all of it is gone and your life is back on track and you're heading for success!!! Just remember Our habit doesnt just affect our physical, social and emotional well being but it has a massive negative effect on friends and family around us too. Good luck to you all and i wish you all the best on this treacherous journey.
Typically the effects of withdrawal happen in one day. That is what makes you want to smoke. There is no secret. It's like a 72 hour hangover. Remember that awful feeling I'd you need inspiration to quit just like you remember terrible hangovers when staring at a sugar-saturated bottle of liqueur.
me too. all of this is too real
they are so real. im going through it now. I cant eat or sleep. I'm restless and nauseated (i've vomited twice since I stopped smoking yesterday.) Im sad and tingly and i cant really focus on anything. I'm hoping to feel better in a day or two but its rough out here man lol
I am the same way! Probably smoked for about 7 years. First couple years not a lot and then I just smoked all day. I am now quit for just 3 days and I have been throwing up, can't sleep, and bad headaches. I always thought it wasn't addtive until now. Idk how long it will take to get better but I hope it's soon. :/ Already feeling very discouraged about it.
Dont man, hang in there. Ive smoked a half of 20% + medical for over a year. Day 6 and Im beginning to feel normal. Depression, anxiety etc..a living hell but I do notice its a little better everyday. I will smoke again and love weed. I am 40 and a lifetime smoker. I will say that the weed today, medical is in fact a whole different beast than when I was a kid. So maybe the extreme feelings we all describe are a result of a stronger drug....as much as I hate to admit. But life is full of having to give up pleasures from time to time. Hang in there...life goes on. I always remind myself I have the rest of life to get high. Im here because as all of you...I was desperate to see if Im the only one and Im not.
I have read that the higher THC content in the weed these days does effect us worse as they replace any CBD that the plant was producing which is a natural anti-psycotic, what a research paper was studying is the amount of CBD that the plant retains when THC levels are higher and the long-term effects of it on mice swimming to a safe platform in water. From what I gather is that these stories of marijuana inducing schizophrenia always made me laugh at what the government comes up with next to scare the use of weed. But if this study is correct then the lack of CBD;s in high percentage THC plants which acted like an anti-psycotic and likly kept a natural chemical balance in the brain which these days is nearly non-existant. This likly sprouts from that old adage that says too much of a good thing can kill you, maybe we are overly concentrating THC amounts these days.
Hi I'm the same now smoked it for 7 years and on my 3rd day without it. I've got a really bad head ache, feel sick and very irritated! How long did it last for you? I really want to quit
hi emily. m in da same situation u r in. went cold turkey 4 days ago and the symptoms 3 days back were compairable to hell. but i can feel the symptoms wearing off with each passing day. i dont intend to quit weed in the long run.....but at the same time being addicted to it is bad. people dont care much bout alcohol or nicotine but i personally tried both and even got addicted to it....lateron i realised weed is a lot better option if used the right way. iam no more addicted to nicotine or alcohol but believe me.....weed withdrawal symptoms arent dat bad when compared to withdrawal from other substances. addicts like maself and ma frenz here start smokin weed for recreation and later on get addicted to it before even knowing. the reason why recreation leads to addiction is mostly because during the initial days of smokin pot, the fun and euphoria achieved are very real and positive. that leads to a war within us where the sane part of self reminds about addiction and other losses that may incur in near future and the insane self says " to hell with addiction." that leads to smokin on a regular basis and increased tolerance which increases the consumption even more. time flies by with pot and after a while awakening comes to aid when smokin gives a bad experience.
Agree 100%
It's true. The withdrawals are real especially if you smoke an ounce a week. One withdrawal symptom often not spoken about is the bouts of crying for "no" reason. I wish myself and everyone who is trying to quit luck and patience. You can do it.
I will be 35 in a few weeks, I started smoking pot very heavily while living in Jamaica, the effects were strong and almost acid like...when I moved back to Texas I found pot which did almost nothing to me so I smoked a pound of hydro every 6 months for almost 10 years after realizing regular pot only got me irritated and gave me bad headaches. ...I slowed down about 4 years ago to a ounce a month which I thought was a great improvement ,after awhile I started noticing I was very lethargic and got close to nothing done on some days, I would get panic attacks regularly and some were so bad they felt like strokes so I started smoking less and less. I got tired and sleepy throughout the day and I decided 3 days ago that I would quit cold turkey and so did my husband who also smoked heavily for 20 years or so and let me tell you! We are both an emotional mess one minute were laughing, then crying and then mad and laughing while crying all over again and we are also suffering from really bad nausea and he is also vomiting on occasion. The battle to quit is very tough but the money we will save will be huge on a yearly basis because we were going through 2 ounces ever other month or so . The savings will be between 4 and $6 thousand dollars per year . Hopefully in a few weeks we can get rid of these negative feelings of withdrawal and luckily we have each other to count on for support. I admire ANYONE who has smoked heavily for long period and wants to stop, and actually takes the first step to do it because it is not easy folks!
I stopped for 5 week's so far and my doctor told me withdrawals can go up to 6 months depending on how much u smoke
your doctor was seriously wrong. it doesnt take 6 months to withdrawl off anything.
Thats not true it took me almost a year and a half to feel better after long use of opiates and alcohol..and now im on month 5 from weed after smoking it for 18 yrs..if you use anything heavy for along time it takes time for your body to get back to normal...its called paws = post acute withdrawal
Hell no it's not easy, I'm in the same boat
Well I've been smoking a half ounce a week and I am suffering. As stated earlier, iit all depends on the person stop trying to look like a hero.
All them symptoms you just named off are true to the T. I just recently experienced and it was not in the least an awesome time. I was sick and just could not for the life of me eat. It was crazy crazy. But real talk the marijuana withdrawals is real
I am the same way. Withdrawals are real and thanks for your honesty.
Started smoking at 13 and decided a break was due at 38. Half once a week bong hits morning noon and night. Never a shortage no money problems and a work out adbicit.I've had withdrawal now for a couple days. Nightmares, insomnia, night sweats and a bunch of aggression. The eating part of course your not going to eat as much so I think the one withdrawal I think is BS! The night sweats and trying to go back to sleep has been the worst but it's not something I would say is hard to deal with.
Hey there just curios how quickly do you notice these symptoms ?
Dude i smoked marijuana just 2 month now i stopped and i m sufring with night sweat head spins scared feelings BP high and all things... How long will take to recover? Its been 10 days now

Hi akash, we can't say how marijuana withdrawal will affect you specifically, but if you have any concerns, please contact a doctor. If you want to talk to someone about what you're going through, you can contact one of the crisis chat or phone hotline services here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/lifeline-where-to-get-help-when-you... If you want drug treatment options, you may be able to find some using this tool: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ Good luck!

this is true been been smoking since teenager and times i have tried to quit i get these same symtoms. jope i can beat this cause i want to quit.
I have stopped smoking for about 5 days and I do have symptoms. I thought that I may be sick with something else so I decided to google. The main thing that concerned me was night sweats out of nowhere dos my research and kept reading people's comments about how they got night sweats. Loss of appetite and being irritated a lot.

Pages

Add new comment