Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction
Table of Contents
- Marijuana Withdrawal
- What is Marijuana?
- Is Marijuana Addictive?
- Marijuana Withdrawal
- What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal?
- What Is the Withdrawal Timeline?
- Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
- Are Withdrawal Symptoms Dangerous?
- Treating Marijuana Withdrawal
- Treatment Options
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. Questions such as, is this drug as harmless as it seems? Will I become addicted to marijuana use and how can regular marijuana use affect me? And following an active addiction, what is the withdrawal process like?
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, is a psychoactive drug, derived from the cannabis plant. Using the dried flowers of the plant, the drug is ingested or inhaled. 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.
Learn more about Marijuana addiction
Is Marijuana Addictive?
When it comes to marijuana use, few people expect to develop an addiction to it. However, approximately 30% of those who use marijuana become dependent on it. Addiction and marijuana dependence are especially common amongst teenagers who use the substance. Once dependent on marijuana slowing down use or quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms.
In those who use marijuana frequently or intensely, stopping or slowing down withdrawal is common. Although withdrawal from weed is not particularly risky, symptoms can be challenging to cope with. Other factors such as age and comorbidities can affect the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal?
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, withdrawal symptoms will present themselves.
What Is the Withdrawal Timeline?
The weed withdrawal timeline will begin after one or two days without use. Symptoms tend to peak within two to six days after stopping use. After two weeks symptoms will usually fade and not be as intense. However, some people in recovery report symptoms up to a few months later.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Research has shown that those who frequently and heavily use marijuana will report weed withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can range in intensity.
Some common symptoms are:
Early in the withdrawal process, many people report mood fluctuations. This can manifest as irritability, depression, or anxiety. During this time people may experience excessive worrying and intrusive thoughts. For many people, marijuana may have been a way of coping with mood symptoms, and now that they are no longer using these symptoms can return. With the removal of marijuana, 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 Symptoms
Approximately 70% of marijuana users report sleep disturbances upon quitting. Sleep insomnia and vivid, possibly disturbing dreams are common after stopping marijuana use. It seems that marijuana affects the stages of sleep, causing increased REM sleep. This can affect one’s sleep pattern when no longer using.
GI disturbances are a common withdrawal symptom experienced by many. Symptoms can range from loss of appetite to nausea or food aversion. Some experience stomach pains as well and even vomiting or diarrhea.
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 use is stopped.
This symptom is experienced by many and passes with time. Its sensation is compared to a hazy feeling that drifts over the mind. This occurs since intense use of marijuana affects the higher levels of functioning in the brain. This includes planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and risk-taking. While it can be frustrating to experience brain fog, studies show that brain 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, the effect is the opposite which causes an increase in sex drive once marijuana use is stopped. 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 relapse in some. While cravings can be intense, rewiring the brain through therapy can help create new pathways so appetites are not overwhelming.
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 after stopping marijuana.
Additional Physical Symptoms
The physical symptoms associated with marijuana withdrawal tend to be less intense than the psychological symptoms. They also tend to lass shorter.
Some common physical symptoms include.
- Stomach pain
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss or gain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Body Temperature Changes
Are 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 be more severe if someone has co-occurring psychiatric or medical comorbidities.
Treating Marijuana Withdrawal
Marijuana treatment will usually depend on several factors.
- Do comorbidities exist?
- How severe are symptoms?
- How often and how much marijuana was used?
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.
Some treatment options include.
- Support groups
- Outpatient therapy
- Rehab or Detox center
Another important point to mention is that marijuana can be laced with fentanyl and other drugs. Using laced weed regularly makes the user develop tolerance, dependence and addiction to the added substances too, strengthening the withdrawal symptoms.
Using behavior therapy, it is possible to regain functioning in the brain. While cravings may continue, they can be managed as well. It takes effort and perseverance to overcome an addiction to any substance, but it is possible. Treatment is possible! Call Avenues now and take the first step towards recovery.
What is marijuana? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
What is cannabis (marijuana) use scope in the United States? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms (verywellmind.com)
Drug Fact Sheet: Marijuana/Cannabis (dea.gov)
Marijuana Addiction Statistics : Usage & Abuse Rates (drugabusestatistics.org)