Is Marijuana Withdrawal Real?

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The short answer is yes: an individual can experience various physiological withdrawal symptoms from marijuana. Marijuana dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the cannabis plant. It contains THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active chemical that produces the psychological effects. Many hold tight to the notion that due to the fact that marijuana is an organic substance, there are no adverse effects with its use, but this is not entirely true. 

Withdrawal symptoms are adverse symptoms that occur as a result of ceasing the use of a substance with which one’s body has become accustomed. They can manifest as negative emotional, physical and/ or behavioral symptoms. Marijuana is not as physically addictive as other abused substances (i.e. cocaine, heroin, alcohol…etc.) While marijuana is comparatively a drug with minimal risk for the development of a physical dependence, any person that chronically abuses marijuana is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops using. 

Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Every individual is different and will have a somewhat unique set of withdrawal symptoms when it comes to detoxing from marijuana abuse. Various examples of reported signs and symptoms associated with detoxing (the process of ridding one’s body of foreign substances) from marijuana might include the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Diminished appetite
  • Concentration difficulty
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Aggression 
  • Depression
  • Restlessness 
  • Fever
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety
  • Marijuana cravings
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

The above are examples of withdrawal symptoms that have been exhibited by various individuals who have stopped using marijuana after habitual marijuana abuse. An individual may experience any combination of the above examples, with wide-ranging levels of severity. The duration, severity, and combination of withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person. 

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline

Each individual recovering from marijuana abuse will have a nuanced and unique experience. There is no exact withdrawal timeframe that is true for everyone. Several contributing factors play a role in the severity of one’s withdrawal symptoms, the exact duration each symptom may last as well as which withdrawal symptoms manifest. One’s personal health history, the potency of the marijuana abused, the amount abused, how long an individual abused marijuana in addition to any simultaneous use of other substance will all factor into one’s withdrawal experience. Though not necessarily applicable to every case, there is a general timeline in regards to one’s withdrawal experience from marijuana. Typically, withdrawal symptoms will begin within a week after one’s last marijuana ingestion. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within ten days post one’s last use of marijuana. The symptoms begin to ease and steadily decline in severity during the following period of ten to twenty days. The cravings for marijuana as well as some of the other withdrawal symptoms (i.e. depression, lethargy, mood swings…etc.) may linger and continue to afflict an individual months after he or she has stopped using marijuana. 

It is important to keep in mind that there are high relapse rates for individuals recovering from marijuana use disorder. One of the primary reasons being that many, if not all, of the withdrawal symptoms will likely subside should an individual return to using marijuana. For this reason, it is recommended that an individual intending to stop using marijuana do so with proper support form a mental health professional.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.

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