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Does Marijuana Cause Withdrawal?

When most people hear the word withdrawal, they picture heroin addicts or alcoholics writhing in pain on a dirty mattress or in a fancy rehabilitation center. But can cannabis cause withdrawal as well? Many regular marijuana consumers claim that unlike opioids, you can quit cannabis cold turkey without suffering from any withdrawal symptoms. While it is true that stopping marijuana use won’t leave you staring down the barrel of potentially lethal delirium tremens, the science suggests that cannabis cessation can have some potentially unpleasant effects.

What Does Marijuana Withdrawal Look Like? 

Does Marijuana Cause Withdrawal?

People decide to stop using marijuana for a myriad of different reasons. Sometimes they need to pass a drug test for a job. Sometimes people want to take a tolerance break so that when they do decide to start smoking again, it will be more effective. When a person makes the decision to put down the bong and stop rolling blunts, what exactly can they expect in the way of withdrawal symptoms? 

According to German scientists, the most likely symptoms people can face are: 

  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Insomnia or problems with sleep 
  • Nausea 
  • Increased levels of pain 
  • Restlessness 
  • The desire to consume cannabis 

A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that these symptoms tend not to be very severe, especially when compared to opiate and alcohol symptoms that can actually prove to be fatal.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms won’t kill you, and they won’t leave scratching at yourself in a pool of your own sweat. In fact, marijuana withdrawal is so mild that it may be difficult to notice for some people. Still, symptoms can be uncomfortable enough to dissuade users from continuing to abstain from marijuana consumption.  

Does Everyone Get Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms? 

If you’re a cannabis consumer who spends time with other marijuana users, you’ve likely heard anecdotes from people who have been able to quit marijuana without experiencing any adverse reaction. Your buddies aren’t lying to you; it’s very likely they had no trouble putting down the pipe. Not everyone who quits using marijuana will experience withdrawal symptoms. The number is somewhere between 35% and 75% of quitters. The research also suggests that women are more likely to experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms than men -- with complaints of physical ailments such as cramping, nausea. 

How Long Do Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Typically Last?  

Every individual’s cessation attempts are going to look different. The length of time it takes withdrawal symptoms to begin, and end, are going to vary person to person. Factors such as weight, constitution, and regularity of usage prior to quitting will all play a part in determining the duration of symptoms as well as severity.
For the most part, however, users can expect to start noticing signs of cannabis withdrawal within one week of first stopping use. These symptoms typically hit a peak around ten to twenty days from the beginning of cessation, and begin to decline in severity. Generally, within one month of steady abstinence, a human brain’s cannabinoid receptors will return to normal and all withdrawal symptoms will end.  

What To Do If Experiencing Cannabis Withdrawal 

Changing your habits can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you get through the withdrawal symptoms without backsliding.
  • If you’re a heavy marijuana smoker getting ready to take a break, it might behoove you to try tapering down first. Start by slowly smoking less each day until you eventually remove it altogether. This can help the transition to cannabis sobriety feel less dramatic on your body. 
  • Try finding a new hobby. Use the time you used to spend consuming marijuana to learn a new skill or devote yourself to a craft. This can help take your mind off the potentially uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. 
  • Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet. Proper hydration will help support your body as it adjusts to functioning with the aid of cannabinoids. A diet chock-full of healthy fruits and vegetables will provide your body with energy that will combat the lethargy and other symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. 
Let your friends know that you’re taking a break. A large part of quitting marijuana is psychological. If you constantly have to deal with your buddies offering you dabs, it’s going to be more challenging to remain on the wagon.
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