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

Ok and
I did even better than you at school and uni and i passed cpa on first attempt .. but later in life i had pannic attacks and my memory became very bad and i had depreesion, anxiety, social phobia .. marijuana was the main cause
I'm sorry to tell ya but high school is not really something to base difficulty or competency on. I graduated with honors at my high school 3.8 gpa and an athlete and worked 25 hours a week since sophomore year of high school. I went into college thinking that I could smoke and do all the daily tasks of being an adult and a full time student but I was sadly mistaken. The more and longer you use marijuana especially before the age of 18 the more likely you are to have significant cognitive decline by 30(And it's been proven heavily recently) I quit smoking a week ago today because I start my next semester at college, but it isn't easy and I'm a very strong individual who has a lot of control over herself but the addiction was real and I didn't realize exactly the severity till I felt a decline and grogginess to me I had developed sometime my first semester. I'm also a psych major and with an intended focus on substance abuse in young adults... . Don't believe all the mumbojumbo some marijuana advocating websites(cheech and Chong/stoner cookbook) say about weed and its long term effects.
Be careful though. I also graduated high school and college in the top 10 percent of my class while smoking weed every day. I agree that it doesn't make you dumb, and as long as you have responsibilities and stay active physically the laziness/low energy won't being too much of a factor. But as you get older you'll see that the weed doesn't help as much as it used to and when you need to kick it for a job or something, it will be a humbling experience. I know you were just commenting on a fairly ridiculous statement, but I've own others with similar stories (including myself) think that they can maintain a super active lifestyle while smoking every day, and they eventually had to face their addiction in uncomfortable ways.
Carry on smoking it for another 15years and you will change your tune! Your obviously quite bright from what you said of your achievements but you lack any life knowledge as you are to young and have not been smoking it long enough Quit while you can, I quit heroin 13years ago and the strain on my mind was less than it is with weed!!! It's green smack!!! That's what it is!
Weed makes you dumb lazy and tired ? Or is that just you?
Well all my friends that smoke weed are dumb lazy and tired. That's why i went to drinking! i now drink 12 beer and day i'm fat lazy and tired. Maybe i'll try coke next.
troll harder
wow you take this serious subject so lightly
I have used it medically in the past and this comment pigeonholes legitimate users. You have used zero punctuation or capitals on your comment but users like me are "dumb lazy and tired"? Incorrect on all accounts, while this may epitomize some users, it is not the status quo, and who's to say the marijuana is what made them this way? More users than you might imagine are, whether recreationally or medically, very intelligent and productive members of society.
Maybe it makes you dumb, laz,y and tired. But that's you. I smoke everydatand I dominate my daily life just fine with none of those problems... Speach for yourself.
Iv been smoking weed for 15years , everyday in the morning and in the eavs,owner of a business ,family 2 kids and many more achievements , the truth is yes that some can get far with haveing an addiction simply cause your an addict and have to keep going but you bond to a chain , so you can think weed is not a proble but it is a problem just because you work around it , it does not mean you free , you not free until you stop and stop boosting your self that you batter of then a non addict that just not true . Hope you come to realize that one . And Jesus is Help , and also check what it's doing to your spelling ! Hahah that's a joke but prob true .
Lol "speech for yourself" Get off the reefer dude. Maybe learn some English.
You talk rubbish bud ! Half the comments on here are stupid , can I just say all people with drug addictions use them for different reasons . I suffer with mental health issues and weed definitely helps my day to day life. I get more done when I'm stoned .
You are obviously just ignorant. People like you is why people like us just don't get along.
I have been smoking daily for almost two years and when we are not able to buy more, due to not getting my paycheck yet or whatnot, I experience very very uncomfortable symptoms. I will wake up in the morning feeling like I'm going to puke, once I do, my stomach will feel better but only for about 20 mins. I also wake up about every 30 mins every night. I get very very sweaty and then have to puke and right after I will get the chills. I'll have absolutely no appetite for food. I can only drink juice and similar drinks and eat Popsicles. The longest I've gone is about a week, and I'm not looking forward to when I need to stop.
I am going through what you are right now. Quit cold 3 days ago. I want to smoke again just ao i can feel normal again but i know if i do the cycle will go on. Is there anything i can do to feel better. This sucks. I ripped up my rec too. So i cant get any at all. I think i might try drinking some beer to help but my stomach is all messed up and in pain. I cant go back to smoking weed, i just cant. I will continue to destroy my life, but I feel like im better off smoking so i can function again and work. Oh man is there two sides to this coin. I wish i new marijuana would do this to me before i started. The only reason i started is because every one told me it was harmless. Lies all lies people.

Hi Jake, if you need help to get through your recovery, try some of the resources on this page: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/have-a-drug-problem-need-help Good luck!

Thanks for this page. I've been smoking off and on from age 19. Stopped for children and jobs but fell into it again. Addiction runs in my family along with depression. I have been out for 3 days and have many of the withdrawal symptoms. Tired but can't sleep. I prefer smoking to drinking, alcohol actually makes me sick, blood sugar issues.
This honestly might be one of the funniest things I have ever read. LOL
Hi..my name is Stacee, I quit 2 days ago. I have been smoking for at 35 years and I am in hell right now. I quit because I have a husband that is straight and I need to support him and my family. Now, that does not mean I dont miss it but I just can not do this anymore. The cool thing about quiting is the stuff I am going to be able to buy for my home. Yeah lots of headaches no appetite,chills,completely bit*%y. I am not an idiot either I am a retired Nurse, I want to say to all thats quiting you will withdrawl maybe lightly or very heavy but you will withdrawl. Thank you for reading big smiles
if you quit 2 days ago then you did not quit. lots of headaches? really? how many headaches can you have in 2 days? and how do you know the are caused by weed? gee I get a headache the day i don't smoke and blame it on withdrawal?? your comment is totaly worthless. come back after at least 3 months of non-smoking please.
Well I have been a marijuana user since I was 16 years old once a day for approx. 20 years and quit drinking alcohol ,smoking cigarettes and smoking weed for ten years at 36 years old going to a.a.: when the fog lifted as I quit them all on the same day by going to meetings and no rehab as I was a problem drinker I eventually found out through a psychiatrist after my only attempted suicide( which I changed my mind after two hours) that I had four mental disorders. I went back to controlled drinking and smoking weed with my last partner from 46 to 51 years old and now left my partner to quit both problem drinking and daily smoking weed one joint daily as I was getting asthma and it has been two weeks and I am truly shocked that I have majors withdrawals which are migraine constant headaches, sore eyes, very sore body, sweats, fever and insomnia as well as horrible nightmares... I am shocked. I discovered that cranberry juice helps aleveate these symptoms too! So I left a.a. today and joined n.a. for the support that I really need.
i'm in the exact same boat man, keep on pushing, the harder the battle the greater the glory
There's something called CHS you should look into! I was diagnosed yesterday and I'm now on 7 different medications from smoking.
Im actually having the same exact effects as you are because I had to stop. But I had to stop because I was given an antibiotic (clindamycin 300mg) that I had no clue I was allergic to because it's chalked full of lactose (of which I'm lactose intolerant, don't trust your doctors or dentist, do your research on your meds) from this it made it so every time I would smoke I would get uncomfortably high. Like as if, every time I would smoke it was like its my first time which forced me to quit. But now since I've quit, and it's only been a week, I sweat and am hot one minute and the next minute I'm freezing with a robe on lol. Not to mention absolutely "no" appetite and every time I eat I feel the need to puke, but when I don't eat I feel off as anyone would. At this point I'm scared to smoke again because I don't want to feel crazy, but I would definitely like to know when this will stop? Just for the record I've been smoking since I was 13 off and on but for the past 3 years I've been smoking heavy, to the tune of 4-5 grams a day.

We can't say how withdrawal will affect you specifically. You should talk to a doctor if you have concerns, or find a drug abuse treatment program at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Good luck!

Take it a day at a time. Cold turkey isn't easy at all, especially if you've been smoking such high quantities daily. Your reaction to the antibiotic doesn't really help either. I recommend drinking lots of water and occasionally ginger ale to help flush the thc out of your system and help alleviate your stomach ails. Also, try working out a little bit and perhaps try intermittent fasting until you start feeling better. Working out will cause you to sweat more; always a good thing. As for the intermittent fasting, it's been known that occasional fasts helps your body regulate hormones. Best of luck to you.
Wanting weed and not being able to get hold of any is completely different from purposely giving up though. When you get to the point you want to stop, it will be a lot easier as you won't be panicking about when you will get your next hit etc.
when i want it i need it bad to stop the anxiety, but i find when i dont want it the withdrawal symptoms seem much less or non existent, funny hmm, i understand you i think the same way
My 16 year old son has been smoking weed, I have no idea how often, but no more than 6 months. . But now he has stopped and is sick to his stomach, can't eat and profusely sweats all morning. The bad thing is he knows if he smokes it he will feel better, this is hell for us right now!! He is an A/B student on marijuana, he could be so much more.
My smokes it all day so withdrawal is severe when he tries to quit. I don't want to be anywhere near him. Everything is my fault all of a sudden when he goes through it. Try asking someone else how you are behaving When you quit if you are a heavy user. You may not realize how your behavior is affecting others. My husband is certainly clueless about his own.
Hey, I agree with a lot of what you've said and at the same time there are kids who get hooked at an early age when life is confusing. My teenage son has been using for over five years and is seriously affected. His issues are magnified as a result of his habit. He can argue that he us not addicted but he is dependant as his decisions are based on his freedom to smoke. Freedom for him is imprisonment to me. Lets not confuse government corruption and drug use, they are separate issues. Confuse the two issues and we are no better that the systems that we criticise. Happiness is an inside job and being high is not being happy.
Can I Add to that. Often times addiction is a mental issue. It is a feeling of powerlessness then Rahe that causes that person to go do said activity. Maybe take him to a psychologist. It may help.
this thread is about withdrawal, not effects of use. Teenagers have issues, you cant claim that your teen has issues solely because of marijuana. Lets not confuse teenage issues with marijuana smoke.
you are completely right
That's quite fortunate that you are able to use it as often as you claim and experience no issues with work, relationships and money. I unfortunately cannot balance my work, money, relationships, poor self image, with my chronic use. It's become a vicious cycle of bad decisions and it might not be the weeds fault, but it is the catalyst in most of my impulsively bad decisions. I'm an addict, gambling, smoking, drinking....time to clean it up! I do agree though about scare tactics and Bologna that some people say about marijuana but as an educated man and someone who works in the social services field, self medication and marijuana addiction are real
You said it perfectly. You are an addict. A psychologist may help.
It is subtle though... I thought I was bossing quiting weed, no effect at all I was laughing... I started to notice that I was seriously getting depressed though, shakes, coughing up phlegm, not wanting to go to work/uni not wanting to see my mates... Things I thought were just because I'm ill/cold/having a bad day... and if I gave in and had I joint I felt really weird like super anxiety... Quiting is tough but I feel like that drives people to trying to justify it, like being between a rock and a hard place haha
Yes marijuana should be legalized. But I've been an everyday smoker for 7 years and I think most of the people I smoke with would agree marijuana has some withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely irratating. If you can't quit anything longer than 3 months than you are an addict hands down. And most likely why you can't go longer than a month is because some sortove withdrawal symptoms take you back to it, whether it be something light like boredom or inability to cope with life. I'm a straight A student and smarter than most of my classmates who have never done drugs. Is marijuana addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms that are notable? INDEED.
U was high when u wrote this, weren't u? Straight A students don't misspell as often as u have!
Thanks for keeping it real!
People need to realize that it affects others in different ways so telling your story only helps glamorize marijuana especially to teens since this is a discussion about teens..It would have been more responsible to just share your story and not "dog" the other views and perspectives. There is always more to one story and I wouldnʻt want my child to go on here seeking help and come across your comment and think theyʻre just fine and continue..At the end of the day your words could affect someone in a negative way..you want that to fall on your conscience..always good to be careful with your words when talking to teens..it can always get heard wrong or twisted..it would have been good to not be so one-sided.. Just a mom who was seeking information for a son who has the effects pointed above..how do you fix it??..just do what you said above??..i think not..
Amen!
Good for you. I used to think like you I was impervious to any ill effects but I've had to go without weed for a week now and it's been an awful week. So yes you might be above it but don't say that how you feel is how everyone feels. And don't get me wrong I love weed, but I've had to face the hard truth that what started as recreational use became what I needed to not have a hprrible day and now I've got to get clean again so I can learn to deal with things sober as well and I know there are other people dealing with the same things just as there are people like you who can say "this doesn't pertain to me"
I was introduced to marijuana when I was 20 started off as a social smoker ended up a daily Toker.with the exception of 14 months I haven't missed the day in 10 years. manny i'm not too sure where you get your perspective and personally I don't believe you went a month if you're a daily smoker without noticing anything off. I thought I was having an early menopause when I first quiet or a flu that wouldn't quit. My hands and feet were sweating I would soak my bed at night irritable always and a headache that lasted for almost 2 months. I have ADHD and really miss toking as it's the only way I truly get organized but refused to go backwards and start all over again. If you're young or you haven't become a burnt out enough everyone's advice will just be someone trying to put down your habit
I've been smoking pot for over ten years. I've quit periodically here and there. First of all, people differ and withdrawals manifest differently. So this person may think withdrawal syndrome from pot is a crock, but he may not be experiencing the symptoms like me. It's been four days now since I quit cold turkey (well three if you want to count smoking resin), and my Sx have been pretty bad: Anger, short-tempered blow ups, depression, occasional sweats, negativity, and decreased appetite. I would smoke EASILY 2 grams/day. It came to a point where I didn't really get that high anymore (which gets expensive) but smoked to remain "normal". So some may believe that there is no Ganga withdrawal, but don't you tell me that! My family is MISERABLE during my withdrawal times (I'm quite the jerk). I can't even function in public: I blew up at the Jiffy Lube employees for no good reason, today I told a lumber personnel to go f himself because I wasnt satisfied with my service--things that I don't usually do when I've been smoking that day. Usually I'm a likeable, friendly dude but, for me, I'm the Incredible Hulk for a good week (or two). I love weed. I wish I didn't need to quit. I could just get my MMJ card, grow my 10 favorite sativa plants (maybe one hybrid--never cared for indicas: sleepy, lazy stuff), and smoke 24/7--and I would be perfectly happy. But since I can't because of my new job, it's "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry".
A FACT is something that has been proven by repeat studies and can be confirmed by cross sectional studies of studies. So, this person is not just going by something the "teacher" said. The New England Journal of Medicine and many other professional journals report studies, medical information that is the best and most accurate that can be found. There is quite a list of negatives that have been scientifically proven in multiple studies. PROPAGANDA is information that the news and other individuals perpetuate while fact and multiple studies can be found in respected medical journals and expert studies done by unbiased medical groups or multiple doctors. The fact is MJ can and does worsen depression in susceptible individual s. MJ does negatively affect memory. MJ does cause car accidents if smoked or used while driving. MJ does alter brain chemistry. MJ is like any other drug. Good for use with certain health problems but not meant for recreation.
I agree marijuana not a gateway drug. Nicotine n alcohol more harmful and cigarettes selling billions each day keeping people trap why cigarettes even selling an it's not safe for consumption. Marijuana is medicine in a lot of drugs prescribed by doctors. I've try to quit cigarettes for years it seems so difficult. Herbs is healing
You're completely wrong. Stop spewing your bs on these sites. I've been a chronic smoker for 4 years and I have tried quitting with some intense withdrawals. I'm on day two now and almost all of these symptoms apply to me. You obviously know nothing and would be no help to anyone looking for advice.

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