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

Man... I'm going through the same thing as you. No sleep at night, headaches everyday and also depression. This sucks I never really thought the withdraws of cannabis would be this hard to come over. "It takes one person to say that they will quit. But it takes a person with guts to actually do it."
I smoked everyday for over a month and just now stopped 3 weeks ago and I'm not experiencing any withdrawal effects maybe tired during the day but I only get 5-6 hours of sleep sometimes less but overall I haven't really noticed any withdrawal effects
So true man, I haven't touched a joint for 6 days, the first 2 days were fine, now I get night sweats where I literally have to change my bed sheets and dry myself with a towel, including my hair, I haven't been able to sleep, maybe 3 hours a night, its no joke. I don't wanna smoke again regularly because I don't wanna experience these uncomfortable symptoms.
Im only on day 4 have all the same systems how ppl can say its not additive are in deniel an say there are no side effects depends on how long been smokeing i surpose was smokein 16 yrs with gaps inbetween when was younger as got older got more dependent an now i feel like this has made me more determined
Yep all these but I haven't been using as long.
Do u ever get nightmares??? Im a heavy smoker. Daily, heavy. I quit 5 days ago for personal reasons, and I can NOT sleep...and when I do sleep.. The nightmares are like something out of Freddy! I'm just wondering. I have quit 3 other times but its been so long...I don't remember if I had them or not. Ty
That is exactly what happens to me!!
I agree with you totally. I have been smoking for 30 years and can't stop.
I really don't know anything about pot but I was wondering about lip twitching... My sons dad has had positive urine tests with pot ( and yes the court still allows him to see him...) but has anyone had lip twitching when trying to quit pot? He looks like and old man that has smokes for years... Any ideas?
Thank you for your honesty. I am on day 3 and it SUCKS. Any advice please? Xx
I've been smoking now for about 10 months every day up to 10 joints a day and decided to quit bc I wasn't working and I was spending way too much money on pot. Just this week I quit, and I started having diarrhea, the shakes, very edgy, moody, the night sweats( I never sweat in bed before, but now, no matter how cold it is, I wake up in the morning drenched). I started searching withdrawal symptoms and the symptoms listed here is exactly what I'm feeling. I feel sooo hungry but I can't even finish a cookie. This is no joke. I never thought weed could do this to the body. I was all for legalizing pot, but now that I know what marijuana withdrawal, I'm afraid to see what my body is going to do when I quit smoking cigarettes!!!
I fear that if pot is legalized and it will be we will have a generation of pot heads. Folks always chasing the high of the first toak of the day. Folks having the ability to go to the corner weed store instead of having to hook up with a dealer. We will create young addicts. I'm worried for this next generation. I myself have been through horrific width drawls so many times. At least 20 but I have always gone back. The fact I can get at the store now has increased my consumption tremendously over the last 6 months. I'm clean 3 days, down 5 pounds, wake with severe anxiety, cry all day and miss my best friend pot. Im 55 and been smoking on and off since 16. This last width drawl was the harshest yet, I'm glad as I never want to go through this again but fear in 3 weeks my best friend pot will be hard to resist. I think I will seek help. My advise. Just say no, never start.
I'm 18, and I've been smoking for about 3 years. These last 2-3 months, I was high literally every day all day, and I really just take dabs. But I had to quit for probation, and it's only been like 3-4 days now that I've quit. And let me tell you, I have withdrawal many of these withdrawal symptoms, such as; severe stomach pain(a feeling like you can't eat, and when you do eat most of the foods that I like don't taste nearly as good, and I have to force myself to eat, which is most likely causing me to loose weight) I also can't sleep at night, and am sometimes very irritable. But I know I'm not addicted, because if you have to stop like I do I can do that. But I highly don't want too because not smoking makes me feel bad and sometimes even depressed
I had experienced the same things. It is different for everyone but withdrawals are real.
I completely agree with you. I've had the same exact symptoms. If people aren't experiencing withdrawals then they're not smoking as much as we do. I am an addict. The longest I've gone without weed was a year. The withdrawal symptoms then weren't that bad and after about a month I had no desire to smoke. However, I wasn't smoking as heavily at that time. In the past year if I go more than two days without smoking the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. And like so many times before I tell myself I'll just smoke on the weekends. It starts that way and quickly ramps up to pretty much all the time. I smoke so often that I don't even feel high anymore. I've built up a tolerance to it.
only a quarter?
How long do withdrawals last?? Cause they are terrible. I thought I was sick until tonight where I feel like I'm high but I haven't smoked in two months
Seriously a quarter a week.....I'm sorry but 2 joints a day does not qualify you to give advice on addiction / withdraw. I've been smoking for approx 10 years now, I'm a nurse (I don't smoke before or during my shift) I smoke a quarter a day. The only I'll effects I felt when going off of pot was I couldn't fall asleep at night and I was a little cranky.
After going through the withdrawal and it sounds like it's not pleasant for you at all why do you go back
I smoke about a eighth a day for around 2 years and I've been 2 days sober and I understand %100
I'm glad I'm not the only one who goes through that
My 16 year old son quit about three weeks ago and still experiences night sweats and sweats during the day. Is this withdrawals or something else

As a federal scientific research agency, we are unable to provide medical advice, so please contact a doctor if you have concerns. You can 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 contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

I also break from weed every month for 4-5 days when I fly into Phoenix to visit my son. I have trouble sleeping, night sweats, appetite loss, and body pain.... Lots of pain. I always get super baked when I go back home. The breaks always help with my tolerance levels which is super nice. And for my consumption I smoke about an ounce a week. Hope this helps someone!
Smoking for 5 years now, I quit for a couple months once a year, and yes! Very bad withdraw, shaky sweaty not hungry and I'm mad at everything and super clumsy. Maybe some people don't get this but the people who say it isn't real should stop being stupid. Yes only lasts for a few days to a week but very very real.
I'm literally going through the exact same symptoms you had. How long does it take to go away, its awful.
same here i could deal with all that though. in all honesty i just become to violent to be in public.
Did you shake a lot?
I'm 32, been a daily smoker for over 12years & smoked just over a gram of skunk a day. I've finally decided to quit and have been putting it off for ages purely because I've been scared of withdrawals. I'm now on day 18 without so much as a puff of cannabis and can honestly say it hasn't been half as bad as I thought. The only symptoms I seem to be getting is night sweats, headaches (paracetamol sorts it out), a little bit irritable and dreams (which I'm glad to be dreaming again). I wish I hadn't been so worried about quitting and done it a lot sooner. I'm more motivated now and enjoy doing my house work instead of sat infront of the tv!
I have the same withdrawals! It's horrible!! I dont know why my friends can smoke it and have nothing like me. Is it the THC?

Research indicates that the longer/heavier a person utilizes, the more prone they would be to experience withdrawal symptoms. Also, age of use appears to be a factor. To learn more check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana, “Can you get addicted to marijuana?”

I can relate to you too.. I was dependent on it for 2 years.. Heavily every day. Couldn't sleep without it.. The withdrawals are terrible.. Now on antidepressants due to it.. And the brain fog was on a different level because of it. Worst thing I ever started.
I'll tell you after falling into the trap of opiate addiction first oxycodone then onto heroin.. always insuflation not intravenous route of administration, however after 4 years it is really just as bad. I had horrible withdrawals that were so unbearable I kept wishing I would just die. Unlike my friends who decided to use suboxone or methadone to stop, I used marijuana and once or twice psilocybin mushrooms, during withdrawal as well as kratom the first couple days. Let's just say I'm going on 5 years clean. And my friends who use the legal prescribed pharmaceuticals all relapsed and one is dead. I used marijuana for a year after detoxing and had used it all throughout highschool and just quit cold turkey no withdrawals besides maybe a night or two of not sleeping all the way through the night. Marijuana and mushrooms SAVED MY LIFE and I'm tired of the fear mongering.
Yes weed like crack this is real it take time away from your mind. Know uncle ink in Seattle just like sale crack but he not going jail then he open one in West Seattle rat city we already have hard drugs it's over now weed got our babies kids got no chance
A quarter A WEEK. That's not an addiction. I smoke a quarter a day. LIGHTWEIGHT.
thts exactly how i feel and its not like i even quit im just relying on my homie to get high for like only a week but it was a drastic loss in my weed consumption i smoke a quarter + a few more grams a week now i been smokin mayb 2 blunts aday if tht and im up as we speak and been feelin body pains all tht past few days #stonernation
Truth. It's addicting. I smoke, way too much. Need more and more, anxious if my stash gets low.
How long did thoder symptoms laat when you stopped?
YES they are real i have been smoking pot since 13 im now 53 its real and painful
People have mentally controlled you to believe that smh
That is very true! I know someone who has been smoking for years (since2011) and they would be in denial of there outbursts and 'emotional rollercoaster spasms' in their relationship. Not only do they get cranky but the person became real lazy on a lot of important task that needed to be completed resulting in them never making it to class. So to piggy back off of your response, I would have to agree.
Yes withdrawals are real I have not smoked in 3 days and I'm going through it I'm not she ate it my body hurts I can't sleep or eat and I'm starting to get a headache on the third day this is terrible
I've been smoking for 13 years and recently just quit a week ago. I am feeling all of the above and especially tummy tightness, anxiety and sleeplessness. It's driving me crazy I feel nervous and depressed all day. When will it stop? I want to go back but know that I can't so I want to keep pushing through. How long do these symptoms last for you? I was about a quarter a week smoker too.

Hi Courtney, as a federal scientific research agency, we are unable to provide medical advice, so please contact a doctor if you have concerns. You can 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 contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

symptoms will pass can take a few days or even a few months but they usually pass..be patient and know and have faith it will get better...meditation helps me the most to ease the anxiety.
I agree man smoke the same as you and just started quitting, got headaches dizziness anger the works weed definitely is addictive for some people ironically the ones that don't think it is are the ones still smoking it
I'm with you, I was smoking all day every day since I was 21. I'm 32 now and decided it was time for me to quit. This has been the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life. Everybody's chemistry is not the same. for some it might not have that big an effect on them when they stop. For me withdraw his real. It's been about a month now and I have not been able to focus on anything think But the symptoms. I been very depressed, My appetite it's gone. I can go to sleep but when I wake up I feel anxious and worried and can't go back to sleep. I always feel my chest because I feel like my heart is beating too fast. I been getting angry and agitated so fast. I've been to the doctor and all they tell me is it sounds like I'm having a panic attack or anxiety. I just know I'm going through withdrawal. I'm just trying to take it day by day but it's been pretty rough. I hope the next couple months my chemistry will get back into balance and I feel better. Hope all is well with you. Have a good one bro
I feel the same way when I go without. I'm bout to go thru some serious dts. Smoking about 2 grams a day is what I smoke and I'm putting myself through the detox because it's bad when I get mad and super irritable over a lost roach.
You think you have problems? I do minimum 1.5z a week with my Mrs. A few hours without and I'm sweating, depressed, feel like giving up
You are 100 percent right thats why i am here i am withdrawing right know and going through hell i.m quitin beer and siggs at the same time so please dont do drugs or alchohol or siggs you will be sorry

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