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 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
I started smoking marijuana at 18 and was addicted for 5 years those symptoms are real!!! Loss of appetite, irritability, insomnia, feeling tried throughout the day and depression; However what really help was going for a run .
Jimbo your exactly right i smoked for 10 years just recently quit. i experience all of the same withdrawals and when i did smoke i never doubted i was an addict and wanted to quit pretty much the whole time in the back of my head. its sad to see my friends talk about how there not addicted and dont "need" it they just "want" it. i would spend just this year 5 dollars a day everyday on it. when i was around 18 19 and prices were outrageous it was about 20 a day. thats alot of money and thinking back i could have a brand new ducati panigale 1299 (my dream bike). if you are wanting to quit go to some na classes you might think that your gonna get treated like thurgood jenkins from half baked but everyone was super accepting and there all cool people there for the exact same reason as you, are also some are pretty hot lol. im one month clean am alot sharper and more responsible no more laundary piling up taking care of court stuff and recently bought a ducati 999. would have never been able to do it smoking weed everyday no way. it comes down to a simple fact if it isnt good for you than its bad for you PERIOD.
i know the feeling i have been smoking for about 5 - 6 years about a half q every other day, 2nd day free and i have been waking up in cold sweats, i feel really bad and its real alright
My line of work makes it so I can smoke whatever amount I want so let me be the first to say most days I usually smoke a quarter at least if I run dry for a day or too I start sweating ,getting super anxious , extremely irritable, depressed , lack of motivation to even leave my house I've been smoking religiously for 11 years since I was 14 only after realizing this I've started to wind myself back after I started needing to shower 2-3 times a day with withdrawal to stop my hands and feet from being so clammy and cold now let me be straight up when I say I'm one of the most easy going people out there I'm that chill ....After a day or two dry I'm not good company at all to the point I even realized the one drug I ever decided to do because I thought I could never become addicted to I became dependant on :(
I had been smoking cannabis for 13yrs I'm 28 and have not smoked for 7 days now I was smoking an 8th a day I lost my children due to my addiction i reolised that the skunk was taken over my life due to the instant stop of it i feel awfull all of the symptoms above im feeling i just want them to stop how long are they likley to continue for
I've been a heavy smokers since 13. I'm 29 now and this my 1st cold turkey EVER. even in jail & prison I smoked and the only symptoms I'm seeing is cold sweats, insomnia and lost of apatite.
Omg thank you! I just quit cold turkey yesterday I had the sweats so bad and the load of apeptite is unreal. My stomach hurts cause I'm hungry but when I try to eat I feel like I'm gonna throw up. Diareah insomnia, body pains, MIGRAINES, and weird PMS depression. I have smoked weed for about 8 years and I've never experienced withdrawals before. Thats crazy!

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.

THIS!!! is exactly how i feel. how are things going for you? I'm trying to find positivity and motivation to keep pushing through this
thank you for this. i was starting to think i was crazy. i'm on my 3rd day of not smoking quitting cold turkey. I've been smoking for since the 7th grade and i'm going to start my junior year of college in the fall. has a week been the longest you've gone? when does it stop, i've been so nauseated I get the shakes and it F-omg sucks bc the only thing that would fix all that is a rip but i can't do that. just need someone who knows how this feels to say it's gonna be ok
Thank you. I am experiencing that right now and it's helpful to me :)
I used to smoke everyday and I recently quit I went 3 days without eating .had no appetite.everytime I went to eat Kinda felt sick to my stomache . the first 2 days I slept okay but the 3rd and 5th night got no sleep at all just twist and turned all night .finally started to eat on the 4th day stomache ache is going away also .felt like I had heart burn for a couple of days . felt like I had acid reflex. In my stomach and chest area . began to have hot flashes also anxiety and anger has intensed.I used to smoke everday thats what I did for life so when i stopped felt really weird like i have a burst of energy and idk ig I have to get used to not being stoned all the time .
Your honesty stands out loud & clear and is appreciated. I never could use anything pleasurable in moderation. Sometimes not, but often these things are hereditary. With Ganja, of course everyone's a bit different with withdrawal symptoms. Its hard to be honest with yourself in all areas of life. When my friends high & dry I can tell by a two minute phone call - he's like a F$#king Grizzly Bear, but insists he has no withdrawal symptoms and can take it or leave it. For myself it's an aweful mix. The worst for myself by far is a spontaneous blend of Insomnia, Irritability, Anger, Anxiety, Fear, Worry, and Depression. These symptoms make it a hard go from day to day in work, family, & relationships. A family member managed to kick-it and they keep encouraging me saying that for them things did settle down after about 3 months. Honestly, I'm at two months, but it feels like it's been about 10 months since I've indulged, which again is another obvious sign, that for myself it's a problem. Thanks so much for sharing and I genuinely wish you all the best.
I am currently experiencing this and am done I was wondering g why I couldn't gain weight and couldn't sleep once the stomach spasms started I just wanted out I smoke up to three times daily and I think just not smoking in a day or not "on time " or even too much sativa is not worth the damage to my body
I feel depressed and sick. I have a horrible headache. I use to never get headaches. This is awful. I hope it goes away soon.
How long will I feel this withdrawal symptoms. I feel so mean and very nervous. I smoke a guarter gram a week. One once a month.I've smoked over 35 years now. First time I ever quite. What do I do now the weed is making me sick with bad stomach problems so I have to quit I have not smoked in 2 days,should I smoke one or what.
How long do those symptoms last? I have the same thing

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say how long symptoms will last. Every person is different, and everyone’s body can respond differently, depending upon a number factors. If you have symptoms that are concerning or unbearable, please seek help from a medical professional.

I have been smoking for 43 years and now trying to quit and withdrawal is real headaches no sleep liss of appetite it's keeps u in a fig ur mibd is never right and never in reality anyone that says there is no withdrawal is some kind I'd strong person or just hasn't had enough in their system ..
I have been smoking pot on and off for about 14 years. I recently started a new job that i have always wanted... So... I decided to quit weed. Ever since then i have been going through all the detox symtoms namely insomnia, heavy depression and the inability to focus as well as anxiety, shakiness and headaches. I find it hard to function and even communicate properly. All of this coupled with irritability is really making it hard to secure my new job... All of this before finding this forum. Its reassuring to know what im going through is normal but also scary to think that this might never end. Im keeping strong as i dont really feel the urge to relapse mostly to avoid going through this again. Ill follow the links to find help but if someone could just show me a light at the end of tunnel. That would really help. Stay strong everyone whos going throug this!!! Its totally worthit...!!! Who knew it could be this bad... Hahaha...
To all on this blog. HIT THE GYM
Good idea! Substitute a new healthy behavior for the undesired one.
Hello fellow addicts. I have only smoked regularly for ten years or doubt in ever increasing amounts. First one bong a night then it crept up to 5+ I'd have a wee in the night and have a 'small' one. I gave up around a year ago and it took a month to start feeling normal. During that time I had really bad insomnia I mean not sleeping for up to 72 hours before exhaustion kicked in. And then such horrific dreams of being attavked, I would wake up and my gf screaming like a zombie. I cant say why I have started again really such is addiction. Anyway here I go again, cold turkey. I'd say to everyone on here that natural, physical exhaustion is very much your friend and prepare for a difficult month. Have a banana and a valerian tea an hour before bed, that helps too. And get a good book so reading for a couple of hours around 3am isn't so bad. Wish me luck, and I wish you all well.
It sounds crazy but i got night sweats headaches cold chills in 80 degree rooms its crazy i only smoke weed and im 21 i been smoking daily since 16 and i cant eat my body refuses to consume food i'm here trying to regain my strength but its destroying me inside
I'm 56 years old and am addicted to weed. I've tried to quit a couple times and can't get past day one coz of the severe anxiety. Most recently when I smoke weed i get anxiety. Help

Hi Patricia, 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 am 25 and been smoking cannabis for nearly three years and I have been on it heavily for the last 12 months (smoking everyday). It has been a few days now and I defiantly feeling withdrawal symptoms. I have been feeling irritable and having a low a appetite. I also cannot sleep at night but constantly feeling tired, I believe this is 'insomnia'. I have hot sweats and chills manly during the night. I have noticed my hands are sweating, and my odour has got worse. Everyone's chemistry is different
I'm so glad you made the decision to stop. Keep it up you can do it. Whoever says weed is not bad for you or not addictive is just in denial. We all have to find the strength to be healthy without clutches. Don't give up!!! You are young you don't want to be 35 and still facing the same problem.
This is my opinion.Everyhing now a days is bad for you. I think it's all in your head,I smoked cigarettes for 12 years and quit cold turkey same thing with weed now a days everyone needs an excuse or a reason why something is difficult just do it. Bye the way I smoked weed for 15 years and and at least 10 years every day all day. The only thing I wish I had all the money I spent on it.I still don't think it should be illegal it is everyone's choice.
It's funny you say this. I quit smoking cigs cold turkey too. Didn't get withdrawls, except for occassional cravings. Easy-peasy. But I only smoked cigs for 6 years. Pot is entirely different. I've been a pot smoker for 20 years, and these withdrawls suck.
I have been smoking heavy amounts of cannibas non stop from the 14 I'm talking 3'5 grams lasting 24 hrs lol some days more I've been Amsterdam 12 times I'm now 25 years old still smoking the same amount sometimes more .. I'm suffering from anger wen I don't smoke I can't last 6 hours with out going crazy and thinking everyone is against me and using me n etc and my brain just constantly thinks negative thoughts like the past and etc I need help proper help I'm scared I can't quit I cut down now again but that's like 1gram a day for 2 days ...I honestly need help wen I'm sober I'm me I'm awake I'm onpiont I'm lively but wen 1 thing gets on my nerves it's game over I'm going crazy ..I have been smoking for maybe 10 years or more everyday non stop heavy amounts average 3'5 a day probly more with no 1 week breaks or a days break its like medicine to me and I Hate it u don't no how too seek help I feel by myself on stopping
These are clearly the site's owners, it's sad they have to come on here and lie. If you guys do some actual research you would find none of those symptoms have ever existed in anyone. They need to smoke a bowl and chill out lol. My girlfriend and I both work on a cardiac unit in a hospital, and we both smoked marijuana daily for over 10 years. 8 years for me. When we found out she was pregnant we both quit cold turkey with not a single symptom. It's OK kids you can smoke, this is coming from a nurse. I've had patients for serious issues and detoxing for all kinds of drugs, from alcohol to bath salts and heroin. But never once marijuana.
Really " this site is a lie" is this what ure teaching people. . I'm off ly written this coz I have these symptoms .. smoked every day for 8 yrs any way am not wasting all my time on this comment .. but u do wake up n realise one day that this can't go on .. memory loss , anger etc last time I stopped for 50 days and sweats and not sleeping loss of appetite was main issues for me .. but again didn't last long 1 week or so ... each to there own ... I could go through 1.7 in space of few hours or less .. everyone is different n for a so called nurse to say it's OK. .. maybe u believe this but ure not helping ppl who r trying to get off it .
Your the dumbest nurse pal! I've had all those symptoms people are saying so don't say the withdrawals don't happen just Cuz they didn't happen to you! Smh!!! Withdrawals are real but after a week the worst is behind you...
Okay. First of all you need to stfu and stop trying to speak for everyone. You and your girlfriend are 2 people in this world of billions of people. Second, just because you don't experiance them does not mean no one else will or make them fake? That is just blind sided ignorance. I have been smoking for over 10 years and I am just quiutting now. These symtoms are very real, I am loosing weight, very much loss of appetite, cold sweats, very much trouble sleeping, migranes/headaches, massive stomach pain, vomitting because of loss of appetite, it has only been 2 days. I am going through this with many others, I want everyone out there to know you are not alone, pot addiction is very real, and so are the symtoms that come with it after quitting. Even though its only been 2 days and I am having these withdrawls, I already have more energy, I feel a little more clear headed and am able to think and function easier, it will take a bit before this all stops but the money wasted and the desire to no want to do anything starts to get old. Before I ever smoked I believed that pot was not addictive, now that I am over a 10 year ENT I finally am ready for change and save all that money I wasted.
My son just returned home after being away for 8 months. He left because he knew that I would have to get the police involved again. I believe he is going thru withdrawal now. He is very thin, violent, paranoid, talks about the past, lives in a dream world, is on an antidepressant (which I think is only making him worse), screams and yells to try and get his way, and has admitted he is a liar. He attacked me last night and he is now in jail. The only drug he has admitted to doing is pot. My boyfriend has never seen a more violent person in his life. Why would they ever legalize it? It is only going to get worse for these kids. Money over humanity.
Please do not come here calling everyone a liar. Please look deep into yourself, and figure whether you are yourself in denial. And it looks like you are. Why? Because you need to go through medical check ups if you are working in health sector. How did you skip those? Well, looks like you are not being truthful!
I believe everything im reading because i quit smoking a month ago and im experiencing most of those symptoms. I was a heavy smoker. I only smoked high grade every since i was 17 & im 31 now. I smoked a atleast 6 blunts a day. U being a nurse i cant believe your saying this because i just went to the ER the other day because i had a bad cough & my nurse and docter told me to quit. Not only that weed puts out more tar into your lungs than cigerettes. Researchers found cancer causing chemicals in marijuana.
For some reason people don't want to believe it's also damaging your lungs like cigarettes.
You are out of your mind.!!!! I am 60 yrs old and been smoking for 48 yrs. I have smoked up to an ounce a week but now smoke half that. I have stopped smoking for months at a time, just for a break. I have experienced these symptoms every time. I know dozens of people that all have suffered all of these symptoms after long term heavy use. For you to claim these are lies by the people who are owners of this blog is totally irresponsible on your part.I do not know anybody that writes this blog. And you claim to be a professional?!?! Have you even cracked a book or researched the internet for FACTS? OR DO YOU JUST SPEW YOUR OBVIOUSLY IGNORANT OPINION JUST TO HEAR YOURSELF TALK OR TO LIFT A SAGGING EGO. SHAME ON YOU ! Maybe withdrawal doesn't cause Cardiac problems, so your exposure to Marijuana withdrawal patients may be limited. Don't preach your IGNORANT and Biased opinions to our precious children you degenerate. They need truth, not your distorted one sided views!
I wish there was a like button, I'd hit that baby 100 times for this comment! :)
I agree with this comment 100%.. I guess most of us reading here are looking for help, support or information and nobody should be discouraged from that. I am an addict myself and smoked around 4 blunts everyday for over 10 years, i am very functional with a great job and lots of responsibilities.... I have made several long travels where i have had to quit for one month periods or so. I get irritated but try to admit to myself that it is happening out of withdrawal anxiety and it helps, the worst for my by far are the nightsweats. Whenever im high, i feel like i wa t to quit, but really want to smoke when im sober... I wanted to quit not because i had a trip or something coming up... I just thought i would do it tomorrow, or next week, or after a holiday... .. I just needed to make it through the first day... For the first time i quit while having my stash still at my place.. It has only been three weeks but it feels different this time. I hope i will be able to carry on and i hope people reading these posts will find courage and strength. Getting serious about excersising helps a lot!
This site is NOT a lie. Withdrawals are real and maybe if you and your husband smoked for over 20 years like me and tried to quit you'd realize the withdrawals are real!!!! You're in denial. Come back when you quit smoking and tell us how great you feel
First of all, I thank God I was never a patient of yours on the cardiac ward! As nurses you didn't take drug tests for employment? Some of my kids have had hair tests for internships...not even in the health field!
Thank you for telling me my own experience is made up because your experience is not mine. That solves that! *eye roll* You don't get people going into emerg for caffeine withdrawal either, but it's very, very real, and really, really horrible for me. Worse than going off of plenty of psychiatric meds I've tried.
So far its been 48 hours since i smoked. I smoked for 2 months straight all day every day doing nothing with my life. Im a 20 year old male. The hardest part for me is that im not hungry at all and have a little bit of anxiety and depression. Ill be sure to let you all know how i feel in a week or 2. I work out 6 days a week . i just need something to take mind off it
This is literally how I feel, I'm a 20 yr old female, and have spent the last 2 years smoking heavily all day everyday, I've now quit since coming home from uni and I'm expereixing heavy depression and anxiety, waking up in the morning feeling sick and queasy, crying and being fragile all day, I go to the gym now every day to try and make my self tired at night because I just lay there and think about all the bad stuff and people in my past. I'm sick of feeling so low but don't want to turn to weed again as I use it to get through difficult times

Hi Princess, 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/. You can also get information about drug abuse treatment programs at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. Good luck!

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