Weed Withdrawal Symptoms, Causes and Timeline

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Weed Withdrawal Symptoms: Isn't the Drug Harmless?

As states across America move forward to legalize recreational marijuana use, many people are seeking more information about this seemingly harmless drug and its effects. Leading rehab provider Avenues Recovery addresses the questions on everyone’s minds:  Is this drug as innocuous as it seems?  How addictive is weed and how can regular use affect a person? Following an active addiction, what is the weed withdrawal process like, and what are weed withdrawal symptoms?

What is Weed?

Weed is the slang term for marijuana, a psychoactive drug derived from the cannabis plant. The drug is ingested or inhaled using the plant's dried flowers. The THC chemical in marijuana produces a “high” when it enters the body. Currently the most popular drug in America, 55 million Americans reported marijuana use this past year. It is especially popular amongst teenagers and young adults.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Few people expect to develop an addiction to marijuana. However, approximately 30% of those who use marijuana become dependent on it. Marijuana dependence and addiction are especially common among teenagers who use the substance. Once dependent on marijuana, slowing down use or quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Is Weed Withdrawal Common?

Weed withdrawal is common when those who frequently or intensely use weed stop or slow down their use of the drug. Although withdrawal from cannabis is not particularly risky, symptoms can be challenging to cope with. Other factors such as age and comorbidities can affect the intensity of cannabis withdrawal symptoms.

What Causes Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?

When marijuana enters the body, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors. This causes an interruption in normal neuron functioning. The change influences areas in the brain related to pleasure, thinking, and concentration.  When used regularly, the cannabinoid receptors become dulled and desensitized. Once marijuana is no longer used, they begin to repair and return to normal functioning. During this time of repair, marijuana withdrawal symptoms will present themselves.

What Is the Cannabis Withdrawal Timeline?

To know how long you can expect to be in withdrawal, we’ve outlined the cannabis withdrawal timeline below:

  • When does weed withdrawal start?
    Weed withdrawal begins after one or two days without use. 
  • When do weed withdrawal symptoms peak?
    Weed withdrawal symptoms tend to peak within two to six days after stopping use. 
  • How long do cannabis withdrawal symptoms last?
    After two weeks, cannabis withdrawal symptoms will usually fade and not be as intense. However, some people in recovery report symptoms up to a few months later.

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

Research has shown that those who frequently and heavily use marijuana will report withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can range in intensity, some of which are described below:

Mood Changes

Early in the withdrawal process, many people report mood fluctuations. This can manifest as irritability, depression, or anxiety. People may experience excessive worrying and intrusive thoughts after quitting weed. For many people, marijuana may have been a way of coping with mood symptoms, and now that they are no longer using the drug, these symptoms can return. With the quitting of marijuana use, a positive stimulus is removed, which can cause a spike in negative feelings. In most people, these symptoms will stop after a few weeks. However, if they persist for a month or longer, it is important to seek professional help.

Sleep Disturbance

Approximately 70% of marijuana users report sleep disturbances upon quitting. Sleep insomnia and vivid, possibly disturbing dreams are common after stopping weed use.  Many people also report having night sweats during weed withdrawal. It seems that marijuana affects the stages of sleep, causing increased REM sleep. This can affect one’s sleeping pattern when no longer using the drug.

Stomach Upset

Weed withdrawal and stomach issues are a common pairing. Symptoms can range from loss of appetite to nausea or food aversion. Other less prevalent weed withdrawal symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting.


Headaches can be a debilitating symptom of withdrawal that some experience. When marijuana is in the body, it interacts with many of the pain receptors in the brain. This can cause an increase in headaches once a person quits using the drug.

Brain Fog

Brain fog when quitting weed is experienced by many and passes with time. Its sensation is compared to a hazy feeling that drifts over the mind. This occurs because intense use of marijuana affects the higher levels of functioning in the brain, including planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and risk-taking. While it can be frustrating to experience brain fog after quitting weed, studies show that the fog does pass with time.

Changes in Libido

A change in libido is standard during withdrawal. Interestingly, some people report a decrease in libido while others report an increase. Since acute marijuana use is connected to increased sexual pleasure, it can affect one’s sex drive when stopped. However, in some people, marijuana use has the opposite effect, and stopping the use of the drug causes an increase in sex drive. This symptom will also pass with time once the brain readjusts.


Unlike other marijuana symptoms, cravings can last for a few months. This symptom can be challenging to cope with and causes a relapse in some. While cravings can be intense, rewiring the brain through therapy can help create new pathways so appetites are not overwhelming.

Productivity Loss

Loss of productivity is reported by many after quitting marijuana use. The symptoms usually fade after a few weeks. Reduced productivity can be a result of sleep deprivation caused by stopping marijuana.


Although rarer than the other symptoms listed here, some individuals have experienced marijuana withdrawal psychosis.

Additional Physical Symptoms

The physical marijuana withdrawal symptoms tend to be less intense than the psychological symptoms. They also tend to last shorter.

Some common physical symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shakiness
  • Body temperature changes

Are Weed Withdrawal Symptoms Dangerous?

There are no high risks associated with marijuana withdrawal. Symptoms, however, can be uncomfortable and challenging to manage. The withdrawal process can also be more severe if someone has co-occurring psychiatric or medical comorbidities.

Treating Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

Marijuana treatment will usually depend on several factors.

  • Do comorbidities exist?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • How much marijuana was used and how often?

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Treatment Options

The best treatment option will depend on the severity of withdrawal. Some individuals will be able to go through the withdrawal process at home, while others require a detox center. 

Unfortunately, marijuana can also be laced with other drugs. Fentanyl-laced weed is a growing problem in the USA, and a particularly dangerous one. Using laced weed regularly makes the user develop tolerance, dependence, and addiction to the added substances too, strengthening the withdrawal symptoms. Such people will require a more intensive rehab.

Some treatment options include:

  • Support groups
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Rehab or detox centers

Move Past Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

Through behavior therapy, it is possible to regain function in the brain. While cravings may continue, they can be managed as well. 

Some swear by taking certain supplements for weed withdrawal. These supplements help to overcome some of the most difficult weed withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia.

It takes effort and perseverance to overcome an addiction to any substance, but it is possible. A professional rehab provider such as Avenues Recovery will support you in your recovery and help you to make wise decisions, such as which foods to eat during weed withdrawal. 

Treatment is available. Recovery is within reach. Reach out to Avenues Recovery and take the first step toward lasting healing.


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