Marijuana Withdrawal: What Are the Symptoms and Timeline?

marijuana withdrawal

Many people falsely answer the question “Is marijuana addictive?”; this belief comes from the fact that the withdrawal symptoms of marijuana are not as dramatic as other drugs.

But research over the last 15 years suggests that marijuana does have a potential for addiction, especially in teenagers. Current estimates indicate that one out of ten regular cannabis users develops a psychological addiction to the drug.

People who smoke marijuana (or “vape” it using a vaporizer) regularly for long periods of time – several months to years – often experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop. And that is a sign of physical dependence.

In a study done on nearly 500 marijuana users who attempted to quit using the drug, about 30% relapsed because the withdrawal symptoms were too much to handle. This result provides some evidence that cannabis withdrawal is a legitimate problem, and that it involves both psychological and physical addiction.
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What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal

Marijuana does have addictive potential, especially for teens and individuals who frequently use the drug. There are few legitimate studies on the physically addictive qualities of the active ingredient in marijuana – tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. But this is largely because there have been so few legitimate studies on cannabis use, period, due to repressive U.S. federal restrictions that prevented researchers from having access to the drug to test it.

What we do know is that unlike most other drugs, including alcohol, THC is stored in fat cells and therefore takes longer to fully clear the body than other common drugs. This means that some parts of the body still retain THC even after a couple of months, rather than just the couple of days or weeks required to eliminate water-soluble drugs.

Also, we know that addiction is a brain disease, which means that marijuana use chemically alters the brain to make it believe that THC is a necessary substance, one that it not only wants, but needs. These chemical changes are why a person might have uncontrollable cravings to use marijuana, and also why their body may have violent reactions when they stop using it. Such reactions are part of withdrawal, the process that occurs during detoxification or detox, the body’s natural process of removing toxic substances from the system.

Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Prevalence

About one-third of regular marijuana users have reported withdrawal symptoms, while 50% to 95% of those in treatment have experienced withdrawal symptoms. Factors that seem to influence the severity of marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Quantity of use
  • Frequency of use
  • Presence of co-morbid mental health issues
THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. If it is consumed repeatedly over an extended period, the brain will develop a tolerance to the drug.

In response to this growing tolerance to THC, the user needs higher and higher doses to achieve a similar effect. The brain and the body become accustomed to regular marijuana intake, and begin to rely on the drug. This is how physical dependency becomes a reality.

From that point forward, the weed user will experience unpleasant sensations when they go too long without the drug: weed withdrawal symptoms.

Fortunately, the drug withdrawal symptoms associated with pot withdrawal are not very dangerous, although they can be unpleasant.

What Are The Symptoms Of Marijuana Withdrawal?

Symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana include:

  • Troubled sleep
  • Irritability
  • Loss of focus
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness
  • Cravings for resumed cannabis use
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Stomach pain and/or nausea
  • Low appetite or loss of weight
  • Depressive states of mind
  • Dysphoria, a feeling of general unease or dissatisfaction
  • Tiredness during the day
  • Insomnia

These sensations are similar to the experience of breaking a tobacco addiction. They are not life-threatening, but can be disruptive enough that the user may have a difficult time being fully functional until the symptoms stop.

How Long Do Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The marijuana withdrawal timeline begins one day after the last intake of the drug. The most difficult withdrawal symptoms will occur on the second and third days and may include headaches, cravings, sweating, chills, and gastrointestinal distress. The withdrawal timeline will continue for up to two weeks while the symptoms slowly fade.

Timeline – Day 1

The first symptoms of weed withdrawal appear immediately after the active molecules of THC have been processed. The body and the brain expect another dose, having learned to rely on a regular supply of the drug. Not receiving the expected dose of marijuana, the body’s expected chemical balance is disrupted.

At this point, the first symptoms of THC withdrawal begin to kick in, typically several hours after the last marijuana dose, or at latest the following day.

The user will begin to experience:

  • Troubled sleep. The most common symptom of marijuana withdrawal is insomnia. Insomnia can manifest itself as a complete inability to sleep, or as waking up regularly during the night. During the early THC detox process, people may experience very vivid dreams or nightmares, which can make relaxation at night very difficult.
  • Irritability. The lack of proper sleep and relaxation during weed detox can make people more likely to lose control over their emotions. Irritation is common, as people become tired, but are unable to sleep. They may experience a wide range of previously-suppressed aggressive feelings. Some may experience outbursts, others irritation, and still others episodes of rage. These negative emotions are often accompanied by a lack of humor and a decreased sex drive.
  • Loss of focus. Another byproduct of the constant fatigue is the loss of concentration, and difficulty with learning, memorization, and memory.
  • Anxiety. It is quite common for individuals at the beginning of their cannabis withdrawal to experience anxiety attacks. The soothing marijuana effects are no longer active, so some react the opposite way, and feel uneasy and anxious.

Timeline – Days 2-3

The period of peak withdrawal symptoms occurs between 48 and 72 hours after the last cannabis use.

Marijuana consumers in that early stage of detox will likely face some unpleasant consequences:

  • Headaches are common during the detoxification stage, usually during the first three days. They usually weaken over time and ultimately fade away.
  • Strong cravings. After the initial shock of withdrawal, almost every marijuana user will begin to crave the drug.
  • Sweating and chills. During detox from weed, many users suffer from night sweats and chills, which should fade after a few days. The sweating is triggered by your body attempting to rid itself of toxins.
  • Gastrointestinal distress. Over 30% of former marijuana addicts report that when detoxing from weed they have had some form of eating problem. Most often, the former marijuana users suffered from a loss of appetite, which caused mild weight loss. Others reported digestive issues such as stomach cramps and nausea.
  • Risk of relapse. The discomfort and cravings can be strong marijuana relapse triggers.

Timeline – Days 4-14

Symptoms start to fade gradually, but some may persist, such as:

  • Depressive states. The brain’s chemistry is undergoing changes trying to adapt and function without THC. Mood swings and emotional issues are not uncommon and are a sign of the brain trying to reestablish a healthy chemical balance.
  • Cravings. Cravings to use cannabis again will persist in almost all former marijuana users on a detox program. Cravings are a natural consequence of the body adapting to the absence of THC.

Timeline – After Day 15

After two weeks, most of the withdrawal symptoms should disappear.

However, some symptoms may continue for several months until they fully dissipate. That is especially the case for severe addicts. They can expect:

  • Coughing. After two weeks, people may begin coughing up phlegm. This is a result of the body attempting to clear the lungs after extended abuse.
  • Insomnia usually stops after two weeks to a month. But it can take up to two months until you are able return to a regular sleep cycle.
  • Depression and anxiety can go on for several months. If so, this may be an indication that the user has an underlying mental issue, and should see a therapist. Do not hesitate to get help.

So the answer to the question “How long does it take to detox from weed?” has to be “It varies, depending on many factors.

Factors That Affect Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Many factors can impact the duration and the intensity of the withdrawal phase. Not every person will necessary experience all the same symptoms as others.

Factors that affect marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Frequency and length of use. The longer you use marijuana, the more it builds up in your body.
  • Consumption rate. The amount of cannabis that the person typically consumes in one intake session. People who have developed a greater physical dependency on marijuana will need to expect more intense withdrawals from weed. The strain of the weed consumed can also affect the withdrawal – for example, Charlotte’s web marijuana strain is low in THC; hence, the withdrawal might be relatively mild.
  • Emotional and physical vulnerability. People who are less able to handle stress will likely experience more severe withdrawal symptoms from cannabis.
  • General health and metabolism. The healthier the person and the better their metabolism, the quicker the person will get rid of toxins and end the unpleasant withdrawal sensations.
  • Body type. Fat tissues store THC molecules; as a result, the more fat that you have in your body, the more storage space you provide for toxic cannabis molecules. Most women naturally have a higher fat content than men, and thus are likely to retain more THC in their bodies than men. As a result, their marijuana withdrawals can be more severe.

How To Reduce The Weed Withdrawal Discomfort

Fortunately, quitting marijuana is not as difficult as withdrawing from other drugs. Medical supervision is usually unnecessary because the symptoms, while unpleasant, are not dangerous. In many cases, people manage to quit on their own when properly motivated.

Depending on your situation, there is a lot you can do to ease your withdrawal period.

What You Can Do At Home

Here is what you can try at home to soothe milder detox symptoms during weed withdrawals:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking 2-3 liters of water per day. Avoid sodas and drinks with sugar or other artificial sweeteners.
  • Eliminate coffee and caffeine until your sleep cycle returns to normal.
  • Do not use other substances while you are detoxing from marijuana. That means: stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and consuming other drugs. If you are taking medication, talk with your doctor about your cannabis detox.
  • Eat healthy foods like bananas, lemons, green leafy vegetables, melons, and tomatoes. These will replenish potassium and other minerals you lose through sweat. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. If you have digestive problems, cut down on fats and sugars considerably. Cranberry juice has been used effectively by recovery facilities to help purify and cleanse the body.
  • Exercise every day, even if only for a short while. By exercising you will 1) boost your mental health and 2) increase the speed at which your body removes toxins through sweat.
  • Treat yourself to a nice warm bath to relax you and improve your mood
  • Surround yourself with supportive people, whether they are members of your family or friends or online forums and local support groups.

Get Professional Help

If you can’t deal with your withdrawal period alone, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

  • Medical assistance. If you experience debilitating pain or gastrointestinal issues, ask your doctor to prescribe you specific medications. These medications can include treatments for drug abusers with digestive problems, sleeping pills to counter insomnia, or anxiolytics to reduce restlessness and anxiety.
  • Get therapy. Individual counseling is always helpful during any step of recovery. Look for psychologists specializing in behavioral therapy. There are also various support groups in every major town, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous.
  • Go to addiction rehabilitation center. For people who find that they are really struggling to deal with withdrawal symptoms or additional substance abuse, the best option may be to go to marijuana rehab. Naturally, people who are also dealing with co-occurring mental or physical health issues should also consult medical professionals. Often such individuals will receive a referral to an inpatient rehab center. These facilities are well equipped to help users recover from marijuana dependence and addiction.

How to detox from weed? Will marijuana detox kit help?If you’re ready to give marijuana detox a try, start by contacting the people who can help you do it successfully, and with the least discomfort. Give us a call our 24-hour hotline at (888)-459-5511, and one of our knowledgeable representatives will answer your questions and provide you with referrals to the people who can help.

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Marijuana Withdrawal: What Are the Symptoms and Timeline?

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Comments 18

  • I’m 46 yrs old smoked weed heavily every day for 32yrs !!
    This is my second attempt at giving it up. I failed the first time
    after 5 weeks of insomnia, I am into week 2 off my second attempt first 8 days I was taking
    Alprazolam 1mg I’ve made the decision to stop taking it.Its been 3 days now and I’m hurting bad only because I havnt had any sleep. I went to the Doctor today
    And he has prescribed me Belsomra suvorexant 15mg not addictive he asurred me. Tonight will be my first night trying it.
    I just hope it works, don’t no how I’ll cope with another night of no sleep. I’m scared that if it doesn’t
    What other options do I have??
    I’m 100% committed to succeeding. 32 yrs off heavy daily smoking, how long the insomnia
    last???? I carnt even go to the gym because I’m that tiared. Any advice would so much be appreciated. MB

    • Hang in there. I am also 46, started smoking in 1987. I was off and on for many years. I have been a nightly user for the last 9 years. Never took “weed withdrawal” seriously. I tried quitting cold turkey last Wednesday, but had to go back to just a tiny amount, to stave off the nausea, and stomach cramping. By tiny, I mean a single hand pipe hit, instead of my usual 8-10 hits a night through a bubbler. The dreams (when I can sleep) are so vivid I can’t really describe them. I am committed to doing this. I am now a believer in the herb causing withdrawals. Doesn’t seem to be bad for everyone, but those who laugh it off, haven’t experienced it. Survivable, not medically dangerous, but miserable. I wish you the best, my friend. Stay strong!
      Kyle

  • OMGOSH I WISH WE WERE FRIENDS!!!!!
    I am going through the same thing!
    My story is identical to yours, I am 53 and have been smoking every day for 8 years. It has been a crutch for me, however lately I have become so depressed, and I miss feeling joy. I used to have friends and hobbies- I have made my world really small and have exhausted my family with my emotional outbursts! I made the decision to cut back my marijuana use switching from a pipe to vapeing it, my withdraws started only I did not understand what was happening to me. I started seeing a naturopath whom I felt comfortable telling I smoke; she is the one who told me what was happening to me. Now that I read this article I am quitting as of today!!!!! I am terrified, absolutely terrified!!!! I am so insecure, I feel so alone and hopeless I just need to know I will be ok in the end! I have been trying to find a good counselor to help me through this but am finding it hard to find anyone taking new patients!
    This is the scariest experience of my life- I am a shadow of who I once was!

  • Hey MJ have you been able to sleep normally? And have you been eating normally?

  • I’m almost at 72 hours clean. I’m quitting so i can get another job.
    I’ve wanted to quit earlier but i would get so anxious at the thought of no weed i just couldnt do it. The night hefore i quit my brain was in disarray. Back and forth, i can do it, no i cant. I had a therapy session the next day and we did EMDR for the racing thoughts.
    I went home expecting to give up again and go buy some. ( its hard when there are dispensaries on every block).
    I’ve been fine! I dont have many symptoms. I had some night sweats and a nightmare about my cat. I have thoughts that float by, wish i could smoke but they arent cravings. I guess EMDR really made a difference.
    I also found some positive quotes ive written up and put them on my bed so i see them all the time. Maybe these saying will help someone else.

    One day or day one. Its your decision.

    Remember, the reason youre doing this is to make your life better.

    Dare to begin

  • Hi , I am in the same boat too! Quit this summer after 30+ years (for 90days exactly). I am 48. First month or so was hell, ended up needing to go to dr to get something for sleep and anxiety. After about 2 months I felt great didn’t have cravings and then gave in after a bad day thinking I could do it occasionally but was wrong. Went right back to habit of daily use. I am down to one puff per night just to be able to sleep. Sweating and crazy dreams at night..I am preparing to stop again and have taken a couple days off work to get through the bad insomnia ..good luck all. It does feel good to be one th other side of this!! Kicking myself for having to go through the withdrawals again. LB you will be ok in the end PEACE

    • MJ, Kyle and MP. It is truly a Godsend, seeing this thread. I’ve done so much research on thc insomnia, but was only reading stories about kids in their 20’s and stopping. I am 39, so it did not pertain to me. I really needed to see people who were heavy/daily users for 20 plus years. It seems I was right, the insomnia is going to last for 1-2 months. It’s torture, I’m on day 10 cold turkey after 21 years of heavy use and was about to go back to it because the insomnia and anxiety is no joke, until I read this thread. I feel all of your pain. I attempted to stop 2 times before but went back, only because of the insomnia.

      How funny it is, I think THC is more dangerous than any other drug out there, because it’s labeled as medically safe, but what people don’t tell you is if you try to stop, you will have insomnia for up to 2 months. 1 month of insomnia is NOT worth 20 or 30 years of smoking, it really isn’t. If only we knew.

      If I knew insomnia was this bad, I would of traveled back in time and told myself never to touch this. This is our punishment, for defiling our bodies that God gave us.

      I recommend you guys take L-Tryptophan, 1000 mg. It converts it to seratonin and melatonin, and it probably won’t work if you have heavy insomnia, but it’ll help your brain produce seratonin, so it may lessen, ever so slightly, the anxiety and depressive mood.

      I’m going to the doc to get sleep meds. I’m on day 10 with no sleep and this is not healthy for the body. It really is not healthy to let this insomnia go. You will be constantly angry, depressed, moody etc, hence taking the L-Tryptophan, but still it is seriously not healthy to let insomnia keep compounding. You can get diabetes and other sicknesses if you let insomnia add up. Get a non-benzo sleep aid, but whatever you do don’t touch THC. I went on 30 days of ambien before, and the withdrawals aren’t bad for that. Use ambien for a few months then yes, you will have withdrawals.

      Go to the doc, get a sleep aid. Don’t do CBD oil either. Cut off thc from your life. Delete every person from your life who can remotely get you to use again. Taper off the sleep meds too, try not to take it everyday. If I sleep for one full day, I’m ok with insomnia the next day, because I know the sleep meds will help me the day after.
      It seems like once THC is out of your fat cells, sleep may start returning.

      None of you have collapsed yet or had severe hallucinations, so you are actually getting some sleep, probably 1-3 hours max, even though your body and mind are awake. Trust me, if you had absolutely no sleep for 5 weeks you would be dead. It is physically impossible to get 0 hours of sleep for 250 hours or more and survive. 250 hours is the most anyone has ever survived with 0 hours of sleep before they collapsed dead. The fact that all of us are alive means our bodies are fighting for us. We have insomnia, but we aren’t sleep deprived.. There is a huge difference.

      Accept God’s punishment for defiling our bodies. I fully accept. I started reading the bible… and hoooo boy… God is real, and we never needed THC.

      • Oh my I’m on day ? Nine I haven’t kept count but I’ve been smoking on and off for 20 yrs I’ve quit before not a problem with God’s help and the desire to not disappoint , but fell heavily these past two years due to family loss in death depression and using it as a crutch I’m so tired of depending on it It’s like u depressed if u smoke u depressed if u don’t , I got bad headaches every afternoon about 3pm it begins ! I want to be right w god and not rely on this drug anymore not have anxiety or this heartache of personal problems with family I’m going to talk w my church pastors and confess I feel so ashamed I want a clear conscience, I’m a functioning my user but that doesn’t make it okay , I gotta get through this hopefully have gods help so then I can also be the example for my functioning mj user husband as well , cooking from a drug addict mom I need to break this cycle these chains !! Wish me the best

  • Day 7. No let up. I cannot control my body temperature or my anxiety, pounding heart or sweating. This didn’t happen last time I quit, but I smoked homegrown heavily, now I’ve been vaping only for months and months. Detox from herb was not like this. All this has done is reinforce my determination. No long term studies on concentrated oils. More will be revealed I’m sure. I hate this. I literally cannot function

  • OMG,thanks so much everyone,im laying here wide awake at 3am. Is only been 24hrs since last use.I’m 50 and been a regular THC user for over 10 years and quitting to get my life back in order and also to find another Job. After reading everything here I believe I can and will beat this ,my partner is a light smoker and DOESN’T get any side affects apart from getting very angry which frightens me as it’s something that calms him down.he has stopped with me . Again I thank-you for sharing your posts and hope everyone does well.

  • Why is nausea so bad and when does it stop.when is it required to go to the doctor.

  • I am 50 I only been smoking for about 4 months everyday I want to quit not sure if I can do it or not I feel anxious should I just cut back or just quit all together

  • You guys are overreacting too much over nothing. You are guys over thinking. Its been 48 days off me. I was smoking 4 ounces in 5 days and dabbing 24/7 with safe equipments. First week was hard but it gets easier after that. Don’t think too much and you will be fine. The more you think, the harder it is…. Keep your mind off that herb and do something!!

  • im on day 4 quitting today 31/1/19 and i feel like the withdrawal symptoms are starting to peak for me.. i have had 6 attempts of quitting over the last year..
    i am 25 but have been smoking spliffs heavily for 9 years sometimes 9/10 spliffs a day or untill i have run out of supply.
    I am having a wide range of symptoms from sweats all day, insomnia, nausia, headaches, heart palputations, mood swings., increased paraniod thourghts.. the list goes on..
    I first found weed in high school and would use it as a way to fit in at the beggining, i have also been alcohol deppendant since aged 15.
    i have used alcohol and cannabis as a crutch to numb depression that stems from childhood trauma and loosing my birth family and also my adopted family after my mum passed away while i was 6 years old..
    as much as both substance have been a crutch for me in times of need they have also held me back in terms of work, education and relationships.. also having devastating consequences to my mental health..
    i might not have a great support network but i am determimed to put this harrowing time in my life to rest and move on.
    i wish the people reading this that are seriouse about quitting weed the best of luck

  • This helps.. Thanks for sharing.. day 4 very little sleep.

  • Can latuda help with the withdrawal process?

  • I’ve been off the weed for 6 weeks after smoking it for over 30 years,it’s been torture,I thought it would’ve got easier but no.

  • My partner now been clean for 3 days but his suffering from paranoia and delusions…is this normal? I’m really concerned

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