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Are Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Real?

by | Last updated Oct 5, 2020 at 9:35AM | Published on Sep 23, 2020 | Drug Addiction, Marijuana Addiction

Are Marijuana Symptoms Real

Many states legalize marijuana across the nation; some don’t categorize marijuana has a dangerous drug anymore. However, there’s a misconception that marijuana is not addictive. Thus, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are nonexistent. In reality, marijuana can be addictive, and when people quit, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 10 people who use cannabis will become addicted. The number would jump to 1 in 6 if they started using marijuana before the age of 18.

Of course, someone who smokes marijuana a handful of times may not experience symptoms at all. For those who use marijuana regularly, even for medical reasons, it may be a different story. Withdrawal from regular marijuana use can lead to mood swings, sleep disturbances, and other symptoms.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Like with any other substances, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and these vary tremendously from person to person. Sometimes known as withdrawal syndrome, the onset of negative symptoms can be physical, emotional, and behavioral occurs after someone stops using drugs.

While marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous per se, they’re very uncomfortable. The longer someone used marijuana, the more likely they’re to experience some or several symptoms, including physical and psychological symptoms:

  • Diminished appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Difficulties focusing
  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Depression
  • Stomach problems 

People believe marijuana is not addictive. While it isn’t as addictive as opioids, alcohol, cocaine, or heroin, it can still lead to addiction. When someone stops smoking marijuana, the brain has to readjust to not having a supply of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. When you regularly smoke marijuana, your brain develops a tolerance for it.

As your brain and body become adjusted to this new normal, you experience unpleasant physical symptoms. The problem arises when people can’t manage these symptoms and start smoking again to get a reprieve. Eventually, it becomes an addictive cycle that doesn’t seem to stop. 

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline

Like other substances, marijuana withdrawal follows somewhat of a timeline. While the timeline for when someone experiences these symptoms varies from person to person, overall, people should expect:

  • Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can start anywhere between 72 hours after the last use or sometimes a week after
  • Withdrawal symptoms peak by day ten after discontinued marijuana use
  • After the peak, people begin a steady decline in the severity of symptoms for at least 20 days

However, these symptoms can quickly return if someone starts smoking marijuana again and then tries to quit. The actual length and severity of symptoms will depend on age, weight, and the amount or frequency of marijuana use. 

In some cases, people might experience mild depression, intermittent cravings, mood swings, and lethargy for weeks after quitting marijuana. 

Although the withdrawal process of marijuana is not considered to be life-threatening, it’s quite unpleasant. During this period, people are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts, engage in poor judgment, and be prone to more accidents. This is why, when someone decides to quit marijuana or any other addictive substance, seeking medical advice is always recommended. 

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Treatment

There isn’t a medication explicitly approved to treat marijuana withdrawal symptoms. However, many drugs and treatment options can help ease most withdrawal symptoms. These medications are often administered under medical supervision, usually at an addiction center or detox facility. The most common medicines for cannabis withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Ambien (zolpidem) can help with sleep difficulties during withdrawal
  • BuSpar (buspirone) for addressing anxiety and irritability signs
  • Neurontin (gabapentin) can also help with sleep issues
  • FAAH inhibitors help break down the ingredients of cannabis in the system
  • Allosteric modulators help reduce cannabis cravings during withdrawal

In addition to these drugs, detox facilities might also administer antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mild analgesics, and other solutions to control the symptoms. Of course, these medications are here to help assist with withdrawal from marijuana. They’re often administered by a medically-supervised team that can assist someone struggling with withdrawal. The idea or withdrawal treatment is to ease the symptoms and help patients get ready for rehabilitation. 

Is It Time to Seek Help?

There’s no doubt marijuana addiction can be challenging to fight, especially with the substance becoming legal in so many states. But it isn’t impossible. Anyone who chooses to quit marijuana needs to find the right support system to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Thus, finding a partial hospitalization program (PHP) that monitors the detox process is paramount for a controlled and supervised scenario. 

Many addiction treatment centers count with addiction specialists that can guide people through their recovery. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug rehab programs include:

Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at the rehab center, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process. 

Intensive Outpatient Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need. 

Group Therapy: Recovering addicts need to build a healthy support system that encourages their recovery and sobriety. A support group gives them a safe space to foster these relationships and continue working through their recovery after leaving inpatient treatment programs. 

Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention. They’re also a great place to work on their mental health and have access to substance abuse treatment as they step into the early days of recovery.

Get Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorders, ask for help immediately. Please, call Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.

We offer unique and personalized treatment plans because we believe no two addictions are alike. The journey towards recovery is a long one, but together and with your family and friends’ support, we’ll make it. Whether you or a loved one is thinking about starting addiction treatment, don’t delay it. Start your addiction treatment journey today. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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