When an individual abruptly stops using marijuana, uncomfortable side effects can occur. These are symptoms of withdrawal. Defined by the American Psychological Association, withdrawal is a syndrome that develops after cessation of prolonged, heavy consumption of a substance, with symptoms varying by substance but generally including physiological, behavioral, and cognitive manifestations.
Withdrawal symptoms differ based on the substance of abuse, with some manifesting mild withdrawal symptoms while others yield painful and dangerous symptoms. Regardless of the substance that has been abused, withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, which is why it is highly recommended to seek a professional detox clinic to assist in the process. Clinicians at these facilities will monitor the withdrawal process and ensure the individual feels safe and supported.
The length of marijuana withdrawals depends on the level of dependency and the amount of the drug consumed regularly. Generally, the withdrawal symptoms will begin the initial week of abstinence and last for around two to three weeks.
Marijuana Addiction Explained
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has the capacity to cause dependence in certain people. Dependence is an enduring problem that is depicted by an uncontrollable utilization of a substance no matter the unfavorable results. The principal ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the substance’s psychological impacts.
When marijuana is ingested, THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which can result in a euphoric “high” feeling connected with marijuana use. Addiction to marijuana builds up gradually, as the brain adjusts to the presence of THC. With repeated consumption, the brain may become dependent on the drug to perform normally. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken, such as irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.
Research has shown that there is a combination of genetic, environmental, and personal factors that contribute to the development of marijuana addiction. Genetics play an important role in addiction, and those with a family history of addiction are more at risk than others. Additionally, marijuana use during adolescence has been shown to increase the risk of addiction due to the still-developing brain. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with marijuana use so that proper prevention can be implemented.
How Long Does it Take to Withdraw From Marijuana?
The length of marijuana withdrawal depends on the length of the addiction and the quantity of the drug regularly used. Those who have abused marijuana for a short time, or only used very little, may have a significantly shorter withdrawal period and display relatively mild symptoms.
In contrast, those who have struggled with marijuana abuse for an extended amount of time, or in large quantities, may experience an extended withdrawal stage and more dangerous symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms typically show up within the first week after use and last for 10-20 days. Rarely, marijuana withdrawal can last for over a month.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal vary based on the length of the addiction. For the average individual, symptoms appear within the first week and last approximately 10-20 days. If the marijuana addiction is severe, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
Sweating is common when going through withdrawal. This is the physical body’s way of ridding itself of all remaining traces of the substance.
An individual withdrawing from this highly addictive opioid is likely to experience increased levels of anxiety, restlessness, and agitation. As the body adapts to the absence of marijuana, the individual will gradually become hyper-alert and often have trouble sleeping.
Loss of appetite
Marijuana typically increases appetite when used. Once dependency develops, an individual may require marijuana in order to feel hungry at all; therefore, quitting marijuana typically causes an initial loss in appetite followed by weight loss.
Because the physical body becomes dependent on the presence of THC, an active component in marijuana, the brain takes time to adapt to this absence. As a depressant, marijuana has sedative qualities and is often used to help individuals fall and stay asleep. Once use is stopped, an individual will likely have trouble sleeping.
Marijuana abuse causes a chemical alteration within the brain. Once withdrawal begins, the individual may feel depressed as marijuana is no longer altering neurotransmitter activity as was once frequently occurring.
Due to the severity of some of these symptoms and the potential for life-threatening side effects, clinical supervision within a professional detox facility is highly recommended.
How Do I Quit Using Marijuana?
There are several different ways to quit using marijuana, and the best approach will vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Here are a few common methods:
Rehab centers are an important part of recovery from addiction, offering a structured and supportive environment to help individuals through the difficult process of detoxification. Many rehab centers offer counseling, therapy, and support groups to help individuals gain insight into their addiction and come up with strategies to cope without drugs or alcohol. Rehab is a fundamental step in overcoming addiction, and those who take the time to go through this process often have the best outcomes.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders. It involves the use of FDA-approved medications to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications are often used in conjunction with therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step facilitation, and motivational interviewing to increase the chances of a successful recovery. MAT has been proven to be effective in decreasing substance abuse, reducing relapse rates, and even promoting long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Gradually Reduce Use
Gradual reduction is an effective method for long-term marijuana users to eventually quit the drug altogether. This approach is useful because it allows individuals to slowly reduce their marijuana usage over time in order to minimize or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Gradual reduction is also advantageous due to its flexibility, allowing individuals to adjust the method depending on their own personal needs and preferences. Ultimately, the gradual reduction can be a helpful strategy for those looking to stop using marijuana altogether.
Behavioral therapy is a common approach used to treat marijuana addiction. This method involves working with a therapist or counselor to identify and change the behaviors and thought patterns that led to marijuana use. This approach helps individuals gain insight into how their emotions and thoughts contribute to their substance use, as well as helps them develop healthier coping skills. Behavioral therapy can be particularly effective for those who have underlying psychological or emotional issues that contribute to their addiction, as it provides an opportunity for them to explore these issues in a safe and supportive environment.
Asheville Recovery Center Can Help
It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction or withdrawal. The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone.
While we do not have a detox facility, we can refer you to a quality clinic where experts can supervise your withdrawal phase. Upon successfully completing the detox process, we will work with you to formulate a custom treatment plan designed to fit your individual needs. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.