Over the past few years, people’s attitudes toward marijuana and marijuana use have become more accepting. Many U.S. states have now legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, and more states may soon follow.4 Marijuana is also “the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States.”3
While attitudes are changing, there are still risks when using marijuana and the potential for developing a cannabis use disorder, also known as cannabis addiction. In 2020, 5.1% of people aged 12 or older were estimated to have cannabis use disorder over the previous 12 months.1
If you have been using marijuana on a regular basis for a long period of time, and you want to quit, you may experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms. This article will help you know what to expect during marijuana withdrawal, common symptoms, and how to get help.
What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal?
Marijuana withdrawal is characterized by disturbances in mood, sleep, and appetite.5 People with marijuana use disorders may experience these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms in the days and weeks after they stop using marijuana.5
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is also one of the criteria for cannabis use disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition).2
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Marijuana dependence and withdrawal have been a topic of controversy for years. However, research studies, strongly suggest the presence of withdrawal symptoms in chronic and heavy marijuana users.5, 8
The following is a list of symptoms that may be experienced by those going through marijuana withdrawal:5, 6, 8
- Insomnia or sleep disturbance
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Change in appetite
- Cravings for marijuana
- Elevated heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana can make it difficult to quit using and may also contribute to relapse, or the return to marijuana use after a period of abstinence.8
The number of symptoms experienced, and their severity will depend upon the length of time a person has been using marijuana and the amount used.8 The symptoms are seldom severe enough to warrant medical care or medication.8
Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
The onset of marijuana withdrawal symptoms generally occurs within 24 hours after a person stops using marijuana.8 The symptoms typically peak within 1 week and dissipate within after about 2 weeks.8
Each person will react to marijuana withdrawal differently. One person may experience severe withdrawal symptoms for weeks, while another may not have any symptoms at all. Factors that may affect marijuana withdrawal timeline include:8
- How long a person has used marijuana.
- How much marijuana do they use?
- How often do they use marijuana?
- Polysubstance use.
- Co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety.
- Physical health.
- Pre-existing medical complications.
If you are ready to quit using marijuana or marijuana substances like edibles, you may find it difficult to stop, especially if you’ve become physically dependent.5 Many people may try to quit using marijuana or other substances cold turkey without success. Trying to quit on your own or cold turkey could also put you at risk of potentially uncomfortable symptoms or medical complications.5
To help ease some of the uncomfortable marijuana withdrawal symptoms, and ensure your safety throughout the detox process, detoxing under supervision may be the most appropriate option.8
Detoxification is often the first phase of a person’s recovery in which a person is ridding their body of marijuana.8 Detox can take place in various settings and levels of intensity depending on your substance use and other physical or mental health needs.
American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction and Withdrawal
If you believe that you or a loved one may have developed a dependence on marijuana, there are various levels of treatment available. One type of treatment isn’t superior to another; it all depends on your needs and life situation. Treatment for marijuana withdrawal may be done in the initial phase of treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility.
Seeking professional help can make the detoxification period more comfortable and reduce the likelihood of relapse.9 Below is an explanation of each level of care and what you can expect to get from each:
- Inpatient rehab facility: Inpatient treatment centers provide 24-hour supervision for the duration of your stay at the facility. The length of the program varies from 28 days to several months. Services often include detox and individual, family, and group therapy. Additional services, such as nutritional counseling, yoga, art therapy, meditation, and recreational therapy, may also be included.9
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHP): Partial hospitalization programs are intensive outpatient programs that are held at hospitals or other facilities with access to medical services. Mutual support groups are often run by therapists who specialize in substance abuse treatment and mental health. Medication may be administered to help with co-occurring mental health disorders.9
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOP): This form of outpatient treatment will, in general, be conducted over the course of half the day or less and may not provide medication management or other more intensive services. You will usually need to have a physician manage any medications you may be taking.
Other outpatient programs include individual therapy, group counseling, and support groups.
Therapy to Help with Marijuana Addiction
Behavioral therapy is often used in addiction treatment and may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This form of therapy addresses thoughts and behaviors that lead to substance abuse. A therapist helps the user learn how to replace dysfunctional thoughts with healthier ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that will contribute to abstinence.
- Motivational interviewing usually consists of a few sessions to enhance motivation for change by tapping into a user’s internal resources.
- Contingency management: This form of therapy consists of monitoring an identified behavior and providing rewards to either eliminate or increase the identified behavior (typically abstinence).
Learn About Marijuana Addiction and Get Help
Quitting marijuana or any substance may feel overwhelming, but American Addiction Centers (AAC) is here to help. Our compassionate admissions navigators are available 24/7 by calling . They can help you understand treatment options and get the support you need to move through marijuana withdrawal and continue your recovery.
To learn more about marijuana addiction and treatment, check out our other articles: