If you have been smoking pot heavily for at least a few months whether as a regular pattern or in binges. you may experience cannabis withdrawal if you abruptly stop smoking. Although cannabis withdrawal typically lasts one to two weeks, some marijuana users experience several weeks or months of withdrawal symptoms, known as post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). One person’s experience of cannabis withdrawal might be quite different from another person’s, and the severity depends on a whole host of factors. However, there are certain common symptoms that usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of stopping heavy use.
One of the first things a marijuana user will experience when they quit are intense cravings for the drug. Marijuana is very fat-soluble, meaning residues of the drug get stored in the fatty tissues of the body and don’t come out on their own. Every time a person burns fat, they re-release the drug residues into the bloodstream which then travel to the brain and trigger cravings. The cravings themselves also lead to the ex-user experiencing anxiety. If they feel like they can’t have the drug, but really need it, anxiety sets in and causes the user to feel “on edge” and they may have trouble sleeping at night. They can feel jittery and relatively unhappy, overall.
Depression, or feeling an excessively unhappy mood accompanied by several other symptoms—like decreased interest in daily activities and difficulty concentrating—is another possibility of cannabis withdrawal. You should try and keep your feelings in perspective: Occasional depressed feelings are natural, but it is not unusual for people coming off cannabis to also become more aware of some of the negative consequences of their drug use, which can be quite depressing themselves.
For example, many people who cease marijuana after using for several years can feel they have wasted a considerable part of their life. These feelings are normal and can often be used to bring about positive changes you want to make in your life.
If the feelings of depression don’t lift after a week, or if making changes in your life seems overwhelming, seek help from your doctor or a drug counselor. As with other mood changes, depression can be substance-induced or pre-existing to your cannabis use, and is treatable. Making life changes is always challenging, but with the right support, can be transformative.
Physical symptoms are common among people withdrawing from marijuana and can include:
- Stomach pain
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Flu-like symptoms, such as headache, sweating, shakiness and tremors, fever and chills
Drugs are commonly used to deal with emotions and emotional problems. A lot of the time, people will pick up their first drug in a time of unhappiness or relative discomfort and maybe hear from a friend that certain drugs will help. Marijuana has an “emotion dulling” effect and when a person stops smoking weed they will feel their emotions turn back on and bring back up all the problems they were numbing away for so long. So, the problem or problems that marijuana was being used to fix are still there and completely unhandled. The most unfortunate part of marijuana withdrawal is that it could last for months and up to a year. Marijuana is very slow to leave the body and leaves a person feeling miserable for quite a while after they quit. It’s not all bad news. The answer to all this, as with any drug, is long-term drug rehabilitation that can not only detox out all the residues the drug(s) have left behind, but also get to the root cause of a person’s addiction. Experiencing the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal can be unpleasant and may temporarily interfere with performance at work, school, and/or daily life. While withdrawing from marijuana use can present challenges, remember that what you are going through will pass and that you have made the choice to quit for a reason.