Did you know?
- Around 9% of people who use marijuana develop a dependency.
- The risk of dependency increases to 17% in teens with a smoking habit.
For people all around the globe, marijuana is viewed as a soft drug, except for the typical concerns about addiction. Studies show that marijuana withdrawal can and does happen in heavy smokers who abuse the substance.
In fact, marijuana use disorders are a major public health problem. In 2011, around 4.2 million people in the U.S. 12 years or older abused or developed a cannabis dependence. Marijuana withdrawal is a key component of cannabis dependence.
To be exact, 34% of regular marijuana smokers who don’t abuse other substances experienced three or more marijuana withdrawal symptoms, explains the National Institutes of Health.
That’s why it’s important to know exactly what the body is going through during withdrawal. Take a look at everything you need to know about cannabis withdrawal, including the symptoms, detox, and treatment options.
General Overview: Marijuana Withdrawal
- Recent clinical reports revealed that 35% to 75% of patients, who seek outpatient cannabis detox, develop cannabis withdrawal syndrome after detoxification. The longer they abuse the product, the stronger the withdrawal will be.
Marijuana is a psychotropic substance. It is often used for its medicinal properties, but it is highly more popular due to its recreational purposes. The global interest in cannabis is very high. Around 1% of young European adults and adolescents use cannabis on a daily basis.
Those who develop a regular smoking pattern are more likely to experience marijuana-related disorders. People diagnosed with marijuana dependence develop a drastic loss of quality of life, including a cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which can range from mild to severe.
Some American studies indicate that around 50% of patients in treatment for cannabis abuse report at least one symptom. At the same time, most develop multiple symptoms during their withdrawal. The strongest impact of the withdrawal can be felt in the first week of abstinence, but the symptoms tend to subside in the following few weeks.
Typical Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
- The withdrawal symptoms start in the first week of abstinence.
- Marijuana withdrawal is at its peak on the 3rd day of discontinued use.
- Patients can quickly resolve the symptoms after smoking cannabis again. This makes them prone to relapse.
- The actual intensity and duration of the symptoms depend on the frequency of marijuana abuse.
The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are not life-threatening. The main concern is that people can have trouble quitting the substance. The relapse rate of cannabis use disorder is 6.63% above the average of a 3-year follow-up period.
But, before you get treatment, it’s important to learn about the symptoms. The main symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are:
- Poor sleep
- Lack of appetite
Based on an outpatient study, scientists assessed 18 regular and 12 former cannabis users. Their reports indicate that most impactful withdrawal signs tend to occur between the first and third day of abstinence. On the third day of abstinence, they typically reach their peak.
These symptoms often last 4 to 14 days. However, the withdrawal pattern will vary based on how much the individual has abused the substance. Heavy smokers can develop PAWS (post-acute-withdrawal syndrome). Due to their heavy drug abuse, they can experience symptoms associated with memory issues, lack of motivation, nausea, and more.
According to experts, the odds of relapse are much higher in patients with prolonged marijuana abuse. However, with proper treatment, like the one you can get at the inpatient marijuana addiction rehab center in Texas, you will significantly boost your chances for a successful recovery.
Anxiety could be a symptom of both marijuana withdrawal and cannabis intoxication. These paranoid emotions develop when the smoker has high levels of marijuana in their system and is known to abuse the substance.
Anxiety can be a real problem if it gets worse or persists after you’ve quit smoking. When the user gets irritable, they tend to remember their fears. This is a natural component of the withdrawal process, but the anxiety leaves a serious impact if the patient also has delusions or hallucinations.
If you are struggling with anxiety one week after quitting cannabis, contact a specialist. At the 90-day residential treatment center for marijuana abuse in Texas, you can keep that anxiety under control. Experts at this treatment center can help you balance your mental health and avoid relapse.
Occasional depression is completely natural. It’s not uncommon for heavy smokers who recently quit marijuana to become more aware of some of the negative repercussions their drug abuse could have on their emotional wellbeing.
Depression is easy to recognize. The bad mood will get in the way of your daily activities and make it difficult for you to concentrate. This can happen during withdrawal. But, if the emotional instability persists 1 or 2 weeks after quitting, and impairs your normal functioning, then consult with a drug counselor as soon as possible.
If you need treatment or a way to restore mental balance, the inpatient marijuana addiction rehab center in Texas is the place to be. You will receive the best form of support that’s ideal for managing your current situation.
Mild behavioral changes, such as restlessness, irritability, and mood swings, are typical symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. In fact, over 50% of heavy smokers who’ve tried quitting the substance report having mood swings, aggression, nervousness, and irritability.
If the restlessness lasts longer than a week, you may want to consult with a psychologist. The mood swings could be caused by something else other than marijuana abuse.
Up to 76% of heavy smokers who abruptly stop taking marijuana have disturbed sleep. They experience poor sleep quality, insomnia, and bad or vivid dreams. The more serious the sleep disturbance is, the bigger the risk for relapse, studies show.
Smokers have reported using their vivid dreams to imagine themselves smoking marijuana, which made it more difficult for them to quit. But, more serious sleep disturbances, like insomnia, are only present in the first couple of days to a few weeks of abstinence.
Although the extent of sleep disturbances varies from one person to the other, it’s important to manage the issue and avoid relapse.
If you are having a hard time managing the marijuana dependence, then enroll in the best marijuana rehab center for women in Texas. Here, you get access to top-rated treatment and detox opportunities that will help you successfully abstain from marijuana abuse.
Lack of Appetite
Decreased appetite and involuntary weight loss are known symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. These signs have been reported across numerous studies. But, what most people don’t realize is that lack of appetite is one of the quickest symptoms that develop after cessation.
Individuals who don’t have a desire to eat lose interest in food. Depending on how serious the problem is, it can cause weight loss and fatigue. Without supplying the body with the necessary nutrients, it won’t function properly. This makes their immune system vulnerable and prone to disease.
Patients who abstain from heavy marijuana abuse gradually increase their appetite over the course of 30 days since their last use. The lighter the dependence, the easier it is to manage these appetite changes.
Craving is a main behavioral component of drug addiction. It can trigger intense feelings of need. According to experts, this is an underlying neurobiological mechanism that can stimulate the mind into thinking it wants to take the substance.
But, unlike other more addictive drugs, cannabis has a moderate cue-reactivity. The cravings marijuana stimulates are not as draining as those found in heroin or cocaine-addicted individuals.
However, those who constantly abuse cannabis tend to develop intense cravings. Their perceptions of craving change, making it incredibly difficult to quit.
How Come Marijuana Causes Withdrawals?
Because of its highly potent medicinal properties, many people disregard the possibility of addiction. But plenty of reports show that addiction to marijuana is more than possible. In fact, it can turn into an uncomfortable health issue.
Yes, marijuana has a less addictive potential than methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine. People can, however, still abuse it and go through a withdrawal soon after they stop taking it. Here is why.
Dried extracts from the Cannabis sativa plant, known as marijuana, are packed with THC and terpenes. THC is its main source of psychoactive compounds. The potency of the substance depends on how much THC the plant contains.
While terpenes give the product its natural flavor and aroma. In other words, the higher the THC, the bigger the impact on the central nervous system. When someone regularly abuses marijuana, they expose the brain to a constant supply of THC.
The moment the brain stops receiving its daily dose of THC, the system will need some time to get adjusted to functioning without it. As a result, people experience uncomfortable psychological and physical withdrawal issues.
It is not uncommon for individuals who’ve exposed their brain to high levels of THC to experience psychological cravings.
- The withdrawal can last for about two weeks. Chronic smokers with a history of abuse may require more time for the symptoms to subside.
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can start anywhere during the first or third day after the last dose. Typically, the withdrawal lasts for a couple of days to a few weeks. These symptoms are at their highest peak in the first three days. Their intensity slowly subsides over time. Here is how the withdrawal timeline looks like.
|Day 0-2||Day 3||Day 4-14||Week 2|
|Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: High||Intensity: Mild||Intensity: Lenient|
|– Tremors||– Cramping||– Appetite loss||– Mild depression|
|– Inability to focus||– Cravings||– Inability to concentrate||– Insomnia|
|– Sleep disorders||– Weight loss||– Irritability||– Coughing|
|– Irritability||– Sweating||– Cravings||– Anxiety|
|– Anxiety||– Appetite loss||– Mood swings|
|– Restlessness||– Headaches||– Sleep disorders|
|– Nausea||– Mild depression|
|– Chills||– Aggression|
Scientists decided to evaluate the duration, intensity, and prevalence of marijuana withdrawal in chronic smokers. They measured the sensory, physical, and psychological symptoms associated with their withdrawal.
For 65% to 75% of smokers, their abstinence impact subsided as a factor in their relapse to marijuana intake. This suggests that withdrawal symptoms could have a drastic negative effect on relapse and make it more difficult for users to quit the substance.
Most symptoms, like anxiety and irritability, are very intense right after the person has stopped taking the drug. These cravings slowly reduce over time, but it takes the human body over four days to get the appetite back to normal. Following that, it takes even more time to boost the quality of sleep.
These symptoms most likely develop as a residual effect of the drug. When there are high cannabinoid concentrations in the body for a very long time, smokers experience more intense symptoms in the first phase of abstinence. With proper treatment, you can keep these symptoms under control.
Compared to other addictive substances, like heroin or cocaine, the withdrawal is not that uncomfortable, but it is still important that people detox properly to avoid relapse. A marijuana detox center in DFW, like Stonegate Center, can help you do exactly that.
In most cases, marijuana withdrawal symptoms dissipate on their own. People don’t always need treatment or medical attention. But when the symptoms last well over a few weeks, then it’s time to ask for professional help.
The treatment of patients may vary based on whether they have psychiatric problems or addiction to other drugs. Including how severe their problems may be. Here are a couple of treatment options that could prove useful.
- Detox Center
Detoxification centers, like a marijuana detox center in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, are short-term programs. They are meant to help smokers get through to their drug-free phase. Patients get access to medical attention and assistance that helps them control the symptoms of withdrawal.
The goal of detox is to help people tackle the physical problems of addiction, address their psychological issues, and avoid relapse. During detox, any traces of cannabis will be removed from the system. This will help ensure a successful therapy.
Detox takes time. The reason for that is relatively simple. The body needs time to adjust to the sudden drop of cannabis in the system. Therefore, it is essential that people gradually remove the chemical from their bodies.
With a detox, you get to minimize the impact of withdrawal and get a more comfortable and safer experience. Trained specialists can help you stay on track.
- Outpatient Program
Outpatient programs are less restrictive options. Depending on how much the patient has abused the substance, they may need to dedicate a couple of hours a week to visit their local treatment center. These sessions openly discuss the impact of addiction.
They teach, counsel, and educate patients on how to cope with their withdrawal issues. An outpatient program is suitable for those with mild addictions. People will meet with mental health specialists, therapists, and substance abuse experts. Here, patients get to maintain their normal daily routine and gain access to a practical social circle for support.
- Inpatient Rehab Center
Medical facilities, like Stonegate’s 90-day inpatient marijuana addiction rehab center in Texas, are designed to help people in need of long-term treatment. They can help patients stop taking drugs, manage their symptoms, and avoid anything that may get them to relapse.
The reason people choose an inpatient facility is because of the higher success rate. Patients who remain in a controlled environment are less likely to relapse. They get access to 24/7 emotional and medical support.
They have a specifically tailored program meant to support their efforts in overcoming the addiction. Compared to an outpatient program, no distractions can get in the way of their recovery. Instead, they can use medications (if necessary) to alleviate the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal—particularly irritability and dysphoric mood.
Research shows that Buspirone is the only medicine that can efficiently deal with cannabis dependence. Sometimes, patients might have to use antidepressants to treat depression and anxiety, but it’s not uncommon for doctors to also prescribe mood stabilizers like Lithium or Divalproex. However, do have in mind that only a doctor can decide the best form of medical therapy.
- Therapy and Support Groups
Therapy and support groups are a great way of making meaningful connections. When a person is facing a major crisis in life, they will need all the support they can get. That’s where these groups come in handy.
Both group and one-on-one therapy are practical ways of coping with withdrawal. It helps patients learn accountability and recognize triggers. It also helps with learning how to successfully get to the next phase in their life. People rely on these options when they want to learn from others with a similar experience.
They get an opportunity to share their story, emotions and get first-hand information on how to treat the problem.
Led by a psychologist or social worker, these sessions give a sense of empowerment, hope, and control. But, most importantly, they help patients find the motivation they need to cope with their current health problems.
How to Figure Out If You Need Treatment for Marijuana Withdrawal
Marijuana withdrawal may be unpleasant for chronic users (heavy smokers). Medical detox is especially important for individuals struggling with co-occurring disorders. This includes marijuana addiction paired with other substances or mental health issues.
For instance, addiction to other drugs like alcohol or opiates can intensify the symptoms and make marijuana withdrawal more debilitating. People may need to change their medications to avoid complications. Treatment and detox are meant to solve this problem.
It helps patients gradually reduce the need for a substance and clear it from their body. With detox, the intensity of the withdrawal dissipates and allows the body to rejuvenate. But, when a person has multiple addictions, other than marijuana, they will need more rigorous treatment.
At an inpatient marijuana addiction rehab center in Texas, you have the best chance of staying sober. If you are wondering whether or not you need treatment for marijuana use, here are a couple of indicators you should know about.
If you recognize any of these issues, then it’s a good idea to start with a proper detox program. These issues include:
- Trying to quit the drug many times without any success. – Habits are difficult to break, and heavy cannabis smoking is no exception. Whenever you try to quit the substance, you always fail. And the more you try, the harder it seems. That’s when contacting a medical professional can help. They can show you exactly what you are missing and help you successfully drop the habit.
- Experiencing a mental disorder that synchronizes with marijuana addiction. Countless people turn to cannabis to ease their mental disorders. Although the drug can help with numerous mental issues, those who abuse it have a much harder time quitting the substance. Professional detox can help you set the groundwork for a successful recovery.
- Being unable to spend time in a drug-free or stable environment. – If you live in a place that promotes substance abuse, dealing with marijuana addiction will feel impossible. With medical detox, you get a comfortable, safe, and controlled environment that will not expose you to any potential triggers.
- Smoking has progressed from partying to using it alone. – People who go to social events and gatherings use marijuana for recreation. But, when you frequently use it at home, the cravings grow bigger and more difficult to deal with. This is a clear indicator that you need help to keep your needs under control. Drug counselors and therapists can help you establish that clear boundary.
Adding a couple of dietary changes and coping mechanisms can help you get through withdrawal. Even though the symptoms may affect people differently, there are practical ways you can use them to get relief. For example:
- Avoid events, situations, or circumstances that may cause anxiety or provoke you to take the substance. Parties are usually a common trigger.
- Do physical activities to ease the tension. It’s a great option for boosting circulation and allowing the body to function normally.
- Communicate with family and friends. Let them know that you need support to avoid taking the substance.
- Try relaxing techniques, particularly yoga and meditation. Options such as these can put your mind at ease and help with irritation and restlessness.
- Create a consistent sleep routine. This is the best way to boost your sleep quality and promote a healthy life.
If you are not the one who needs treatment, but you know someone in your family who does, then it’s time you stage an intervention. This is a practical way of helping them change their life for the better.
You get to inspire that person to focus on improving their life and wellbeing. Often, people who abuse marijuana don’t think they can get addicted. They either see only the medicinal properties of the substance or fail to notice its addictive properties.
That’s why it can be difficult to convince someone they’ve developed a dependency or addiction. With an intervention, you can list all the facts that prove they are addicted. You can talk about how this is affecting their life and why they need to get a detox.
It’s a good idea for parents to plan regular interventions, particularly if their teenager started using marijuana. This will help them understand the bigger picture and the complications it can cause with long-term abuse.
There aren’t any real worries or dangers from quitting cannabis and detoxifying on your own, but that doesn’t mean that you should deal with the burden alone. Medical professionals can set you on the right path.
In fact, relying on psychological, emotional, and physical support can significantly boost your chances for success. This is the easiest and most efficient way to prevent a relapse, just like in the case of the 90-day residential treatment center for marijuana abuse in Texas.
You get a chance to quit smoking in a safe and controlled environment. You can avoid the temptations of lighting up a joint, soothe the discomfort, and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Although the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal might not be as draining or intense as some other more addictive substances, they are still a real problem. Those who smoke marijuana on a daily basis and chronically abuse the product can become addicted. When they try to quit, they will experience cravings, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, poor sleep, and more.
The symptoms are not life-threatening, but they can be debilitating, especially when patients have no idea how to manage them. In a medical facility, you can find all the guidance and support you need. Medical professionals can encourage you to get through with the treatment and get sober. That’s why getting a detox should be a top priority.
Now that you know exactly what happens with marijuana withdrawal, you can take the necessary precautions to avoid these symptoms. But, if you are already addicted to the substance or develop a dependency, then you may need more rigorous treatment.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.