Drug and Alcohol

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms: What Are They, Timeline, and Treatment

Are weed withdrawal symptoms real? The answer may surprise you. Read our blog to learn about weed withdrawal symptoms and more.

What are Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 14, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

As the hazy cloud of marijuana use begins to lift, many individuals confront an unexpected reality: weed withdrawal symptoms.

While cannabis is often celebrated for its calming effects and recreational appeal, the flip side reveals a lesser-known chapter in marijuana use – withdrawal symptoms. This article explores weed withdrawal symptoms, timelines, and treatments that can help you find your way back to clarity and balance. 

What is Weed?

Weed is a slang term for marijuana or cannabis. Weed is the single most widely used form of a substance that is prohibited by federal law in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2020, about 49 million persons aged 12 or older stated that they had used weed sometime over the previous year. In addition, the number of states that have passed legislation to legalize weed is growing. As a result, more people are using the drug.

More research is emerging regarding the potential for dependence and withdrawal symptoms. 

Who Experiences Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

A person's likelihood of experiencing weed withdrawal symptoms when they quit using marijuana is increased by certain factors:

  • The length of time spent using weed

  • The method of using weed, like smoking, eating edibles, or vaping dabs

  • Personal physiology

Even though withdrawal signs from marijuana aren't as severe as those from stronger substances like heroin and cocaine, many people who use marijuana nevertheless experience these symptoms when they attempt to discontinue the drug. Some people have compared the withdrawal from marijuana to the difficulty associated with quitting caffeine, describing similar symptoms such as feeling anxious, irritable, or otherwise "off," along with periodic headaches and feelings of nausea.

Not many bad things are likely to happen when you stop using cannabis. However, when medical or mental health conditions like multiple addictions and dependency are present, marijuana detox can cause more serious complications and symptoms that need more care.

Why Are Weed Withdrawal Symptoms Bad?

The therapeutic importance of withdrawal from cannabis is that it can make it harder to stay sober by making people want to use it again, making the symptoms disappear immediately. Irritability and changes in mood can also hurt interpersonal interactions and professional performance.

The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal differ for each person who uses the drug. Some people with only a slight dependence on weed can kick the habit alone. However, those who use it severely already develop tolerance and may require further assistance to stop their habit successfully.

Ultimately, it is dependent on the user, the frequency of their marijuana use, as well as the strain and intensity of the weed that they are ingesting.

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What Are the Causes of Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

Whether it is a regular pattern, you are smoking weed on binges, or you are suddenly quitting the use after months of using marijuana, the withdrawal experience is severe in these users. These symptoms can manifest themselves in several different ways.

Duke University conducted several studies of all the people trying to quit weed; over 95% experienced at least one withdrawal symptom, whereas over 40% experienced two or more symptoms simultaneously.

There was a strong correlation between the frequency and quantity of marijuana consumption on the part of the subjects and the severity of their symptoms.

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms: What Are the Common Symptoms of Weed Addiction?

How dependent a person is on marijuana affects how they feel when they stop using it. For example, an individual with a slight addiction to marijuana might get headaches or feel restless. On the contrary, people dependent on marijuana may experience more serious withdrawal symptoms, such as shivering, chills, fever, and even hallucinations.

A person's symptoms will worsen the longer they use marijuana. Most of the time, marijuana withdrawal signs disappear within two to three weeks.

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Agitation

  • Irritation

  • Headaches

  • Restlessness

  • Stomach pains

  • Appetite loss/weight loss

  • Nausea

  • Insomnia or fatigue

Anger and irritation are common withdrawal symptoms of cannabis use cessation. These emotions are natural and will subside.

Is There a Way to Handle Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

Reduce tension in your daily routine and incorporate more relaxing activities, such as engaging in games or enjoying music. Anxiety and depression are the symptoms of excessive cannabis use along with cannabis withdrawal. It is also essential for you to know your medical history. Expressing your emotions to someone close to you may be a wonderful comfort source. However, some of these side effects can make each other worse.

For example, anxiety can make sadness worse. Loss of appetite can make eating hard, making a person angry. Restlessness and lack of sleep can also make a person angrier. Other symptoms, such as sweating, chills, and appetite change, can also be among the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.

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When Do Weed Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

After ceasing excessive usage of marijuana, many of the signs of withdrawal start to appear within the first to the third day of the withdrawal. Despite this, some users continue to feel the effects for up to the first two weeks after they have stopped using the substance. Psychological symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are more likely to be severe, peak later, and last for a longer period than that are physical.

Seek the help of a specialist if any of the symptoms are very troublesome or appear to be lasting. A mental health expert or medical professional can assist in determining the underlying cause behind the symptoms and suggest strategies for mitigating the negative impact of it.

Withdrawing from marijuana use does not pose life-threatening symptoms. However, several studies have found that a large number of weed users who are seeking to quit smoking weed have relapsed and started to use it again. Perhaps, the saddest part of quitting is that some users who are really trying to quit have relapsed into the drug again.

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

The recovery timeline lasts up to 20 days and is divided into three periods:

The First Three Days

In the first three days of the withdrawal, weed withdrawal symptoms start to appear in the patients. On the last day of the first period, that is, on the third daytime, the adverse effects of withdrawal are highest due to the detox process. The patients may experience stomach pain and other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

During the first withdrawal period, the patient can also experience high perspiration. Relapse is also one of the many possible symptoms during the first stage, and hence for better and more comfortable treatment, people need to seek out professional help for their addiction.

A Week to 10 Days

The symptoms are expected to peak in this stage, which lasts from a week to 10 days. On the fourth day of the withdrawal process, although the physical symptoms seemed to take a back seat, the mental and psychological effects get worsened. During this phase of cannabis withdrawal, since the body and the mind are working hard to acclimate without THC, there is a high chance that the patient might experience the feeling of depression.

Also, this symptom is expected to continue through the first week of detoxification.

10 Days to 20 Days

In this stage, which is also the last one, the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal begin to improve. The study also suggests that after the second week of the treatment, most patients start to feel steadier and more robust. 

It is important to understand that despite attaining a more stable feeling, all the stages are as important as any, and completing these phases is an essential part of the recovery process.

How to Cope With Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

The withdrawal process from marijuana is challenging, but the methods used to cope can also have negative side effects if they are not monitored by a qualified medical practitioner in more severe cases. However, several tactics can help you get through these periods, and lifestyle modifications might help you cope with the withdrawal symptoms.

The following is a list of some of the possibilities that you could explore during the process:

  • Ensure that you keep a healthy level of physical activity. Keeping your muscles engaged might be an effective way to relieve tension throughout the body.

  • Do not be afraid to solicit assistance from those close to you, such as friends and family members.

  • Steer clear of loud and crowded public areas, as these will likely ease your anxiety.

  • You might also try some different methods of relaxing, such as meditation.

As someone who is working on quitting cannabis, you should make it a priority to establish healthy bedtime routines over time. Additionally, stay away from caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime and during the night itself.

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When Is The Right Time to Seek Medical Help for Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

In case you are trying to quit and detox from marijuana cold turkey on your own, there is also risk involved in it. Moreover, this could also result in the patient's death in some cases. It is hence important that you seek help from a medical professional who can assist you in managing the physical and mental weed withdrawal symptoms. They can be a great help when you are trying to avoid going back to using it again.

In case you have been experiencing a prolonged case of paranoia, especially if it is hallucinations or delusions, you must consult a mental health expert for a complete assessment of your mental health. These healthcare professionals are highly qualified and certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) to become addiction medicine specialists or full-time psychiatrists.

In addition, in specific instances, marijuana users have experienced symptoms of withdrawal that have lasted for weeks or even several months. This condition is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and it can also be treatable efficiently with the assistance of a trained specialist.

What Are the Treatments Available For Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal usually go away with time, given that the patient has completely refrained from using it. These symptoms can usually be managed without the intervention of a specialist in most situations. However, be mindful of certain scenarios, such as the continuation of the symptoms. Suppose they persist for over a couple of weeks. In that case, consulting a medical professional, an expert, or a mental health professional is necessary.

It is also important to let the healthcare expert know that you have been a marijuana user trying to withdraw from it. Holding information from the medical professional can leave loopholes in the treatment and cause unnecessary problems. At times, since you have decided to hold crucial information, the doctor can prescribe you medicines with side effects, such as depression or nervous breakdown. 

Fortunately, several non-addictive pharmacologic choices are available to address anxiety symptoms and treatments that do not need drugs, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Unpleasant. The Forge Recovery Center Will Help You

Okay, so maybe weed withdrawal symptoms aren’t as harsh as withdrawing from benzos or heroin. They’re still fairly difficult, and for long-time users weed withdrawal symptoms can be rough enough to discourage further treatment.

Fortunately, with professional help, weed withdrawal symptoms are much easier to handle. The Forge Recovery Center provides expert help for weed addiction, weed withdrawal and more. Our experienced team will be your partners in recovery, helping you build a life that’s not ruled by weed.

You deserve a better life, and it can be yours today. Reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today and learn more about our successful, proven weed addiction treatment program.

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