Marijuana Withdrawal – Signs, Symptoms & Solutions

marijuana withdrawal

With conflicting opinions surrounding scientific and anecdotal evidence about weed, particularly concerning marijuana withdrawal, it can be confusing to figure out what’s right. 

Not in terms of whether weed withdrawal itself is a myth or unimportant. It’s just many people either blow it out of proportion or simply have the wrong idea about it. 

Sure, the use of cannabis and even some prescription drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms. However, once you gain further knowledge and insight into it, you’ll realize that you should be safe as long as you have responsible habits and practices. 

Today, we’re breaking down what you need to know about marijuana withdrawal, including its legitimacy, signs and symptoms, and how to control it. 

So, let’s get into it because this is essential information for every toker to know! 

Is Marijuana Withdrawal Real?

Many distinguished scholars have researched the impacts of cannabis on humans, which is how we’ve managed to find out all of the stellar benefits weed can have on our physical and mental health.

That said, researchers have also discovered a condition known as Cannabis Use Disorder, where some users may become psychologically dependent on using cannabis. As a result, they may experience specific withdrawal symptoms after suddenly quitting long-term use.

This condition is formally called Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS), and, luckily, with its discovery also came the various criteria for easily identifying the signs of weed addiction and symptoms of weed withdrawal. 

Let’s break down how it works. 

Essentially, the cannabinoid THC  works its way through your body’s endocannabinoid system and binds to the CB1 receptors in your brain, which is how it produces its psychoactive effects. So, if you ingest THC regularly, it will cause a reduction in these receptors. 

Simply put, the more weed you smoke or ingest in whatever form, the less intense the effects will be over time. What this means is that it will take higher doses to produce the same effects. 

This correlation motivates many blazers to take tolerance breaks to set their baseline back to a more reasonable level and allow those receptors to repopulate. That said, it may inspire others to become psychologically dependent on ingesting more and more to experience the same high. 

So, while you’re not physically addicted to it, your mind may convince you that you need more to reach that same elevated state. 

Regarding the specific criteria of weed withdrawal and Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome, there are a few key indicators.

Firstly, a patient must quit smoking weed suddenly after long-term use. 

Secondly, they must experience at least three of the physical and psychological symptoms listed in the following section. 

Thirdly, these withdrawal symptoms must interfere with the person’s life in a social or occupational sense. Lastly, the weed withdrawal symptoms cannot be a result of other conditions or mental disorders.

All this said, it is critical to note that the American Psychiatric Association does not officially recognize Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome as a condition. 

However, it has been medically reviewed by other experts in the field, whose research shows that abruptly stopping prolonged weed use brings on a specific withdrawal syndrome that mainly affects behavioural health. 

So, to answer the initial question, yes, cannabis withdrawal is real. However, as we’ll outline a little later on, it is entirely preventable and something you can overcome. 

In this sense, it doesn’t have to be as daunting as its name implies. 

7 Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms to Look Out For

Nobody wants to experience marijuana withdrawal, but it’s crucial to know the signs to look out for both as an independent user and as a way of being a reliable friend or toking buddy. 

Multiple resources have corroborated with the initial study outlining the symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome to create the following list of the 7 most prominent symptoms of weed withdrawal: 

Anxiety

As we outlined before, weed produces some of its psychoactive effects when THC acts on CB1 receptors in the brain. As blazers use weed more regularly, these receptors become desensitized, and they require more bud for the same desired effect. 

These same receptors play a critical role in anxiety, stress, and other mood changes. Research indicates that high doses of THC can increase anxiety levels. So, the more THC you consume to supplement these desensitized receptors, the more anxious you’re likely to feel due to the dosage change. 

This discomfort will likely last until the THC leaves the body and the receptors replenish themselves.

Mild Discomfort

Weed withdrawal will likely also cause at least one variation of physical discomfort, whether in the form of nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, sweating, chills, fever, and shakiness/tremors. 

Luckily, these symptoms do not last very long and are more inconvenient than a real issue.

Trouble Sleeping

weed withdrawal symptoms

People who stop using marijuana after heavy use may experience trouble falling or staying asleep. 

This may also be accompanied by vivid dreams, difficulty concentrating, nightmares, and cold sweats.

Decreased appetite

Two common side effects of marijauna withdrawal are nausea and abdominal pain. As such, you’ll likely feel less inclined to eat. 

However, it’s important to get at least something in your system to keep your blood sugar up and provide you with energy.

Restlessness

Besides anxiety, some users may also feel restless or bored as they detox. They might become easily agitated or have a desire to move around. 

It is also common to experience mood swings as a result and trouble maintaining focus.  That said, there are productive ways to occupy your time and channel that energy, including exercise, which can be an excellent way to occupy your mind with something else and release natural endorphins. 

Cannabis Cravings

Some people find that, during their THC detox, they experience an increased desire for smoking marijuana. Ultimately, this symptom isn’t all that surprising. After all, if you quit weed cold turkey, you’re likely going to crave it in its absence. 

However, what you shouldn’t do is cave into these cravings and diminish all the progress you have made. We know it’s hard, but it’ll totally be worth it in the end! 

Dysphoria

Weed withdrawal might also cause symptoms of depression. 

These feelings can range from light to moderate in severity and may affect some people more than others, especially those with existing mental health problems.

So, if you have pre-existing conditions, consult your doctor or therapist should your symptoms worsen or you feel you need an extra helping hand.  

How to Control Marijuana Withdrawal

Unlike withdrawal from harder substances or alcohol, managing withdrawal from weed use is not life-threatening and significantly less severe. 

Here are 8 of the most common ways people overcome Cannabis Use Disorder and treat their symptoms:

Smoking Less

how to control cannabis withdrawal

One of the best ways to lessen the impact of marijuana withdrawal symptoms experienced is to smoke less in general, whether it’s weed or regular tobacco cigarettes.

Doing this means that you will only have mild symptoms to contend with whenever you decide to take a break. If you’re consistently smoking, it will be counterproductive and only serve to make quitting or taking a tolerance break that much more challenging. 

So, in this sense, minimizing this habit or cutting out cold turkey are the best ways to go.

Taking Tolerance Breaks

Tolerance breaks are essential because they decrease the amount of cannabis required to produce a high. As a result, THC levels in the body will decline, reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

It’s also incredibly cost-effective. Many people don’t talk about how expensive it can get in terms of a built-up tolerance. The more weed you need to produce the desired effects, the more emphasis is placed on your wallet. 

So, that’s another motivator to take a break! 

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

The wonderful thing about the human body is that it can detox itself during your tolerance break. 

You can support it during this time by making healthy lifestyle changes to speed up the process, such as eating a healthy diet and keeping yourself hydrated. Ensure you get a full night’s sleep as often as possible to help your body rest and prevent feelings of tiredness during the day.

Developing these healthy habits will also give you something else to occupy your mind as you plan delicious, nutritious meals!

Consuming CBD

CBD is perfect for reducing the effects of THC in the body and for helping users who suffer from anxiety. It can also help to lower your tolerance faster.

The beauty of CBD is that, unlike its cannabinoid counterpart, THC, it is not psychoactive. In other words, it won’t get you high, but it will help treat multiple weed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain and restlessness.

Confiding in a Loved One

Sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to. Having someone there to motivate you through the recovery process will ensure you don’t fall back into old habits.

If you feel that you are experiencing elements of cannabis dependence, you might also benefit from joining support groups, which can aid in the mental aspect of your recovery. You might even discover new ways to cope with the multiple symptoms you will experience as you detox.

Not only that, but it’s an excellent way to find a support system of like-minded individuals to hold each other accountable. 

Marijuana Withdrawal – Not Awesome, but Not Forever

Weed withdrawal is a real thing. However, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Taking tolerance breaks is one of the healthiest, most effective methods for getting your baseline tolerance back to a reasonable level. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for checking back in with yourself and assessing your weed habits. 

If you discover that your cannabis use impacts your daily life or occupational responsibilities in a negative or overbearing way, it’s likely time to take a break.

Users can help curb the unpleasantness associated with weed withdrawal by smoking less, taking tolerance breaks, consuming CBD, using over-the-counter-medication, confiding in a loved one, joining support groups, and seeking outpatient care treatment if necessary. 

The most important thing to remember is that, while it may suck and be unpleasant at the time, weed withdrawal symptoms do not last forever. 

Ultimately, it comes down to instilling responsible usage habits to indulge in your favourite herb without depending on it. 

Stay safe and healthy!

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