What to expect when you quit smoking weed, and how to cope

Published Nov 12, 2020 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Елена Шитикова

There are far too many misconceptions surrounding the use of cannabis, and the one we’re going to focus on here today is in relation to how it might feel if a consumer was suddenly to quit smoking or using cannabinoid laden products cold turkey. After all, cannabis isn’t supposed to be addictive, is it? The truth is that cannabis withdrawal is a very real thing, but to understand it, you’ll need to start with what it actually means to be addicted.

Is marijuana addictive?

For all intents and purposes, most experts will tell you that cannabis itself isn’t addictive in the same sense as other more dangerous drugs such as opiates or heroin, but it is clear that consumers can become reliant on the effects and sensations that come from using it. As a result of this dependency, which is typically built over an extended period of time, there is always the possibility that symptoms of withdrawal could appear after an abrupt halt in its use.

Does everyone experience marijuana withdrawal?

The interesting thing about marijuana withdrawal is that not everyone has to go through it, which is the main reason why so many believe that it’s close to impossible to become addicted to it. The theory is that the symptoms of withdrawal are simply issues that are resurfacing because a self-medicating consumer suddenly doesn’t have their medicine, but we have yet to verify this with clinical or peer-reviewed research.

Interesting facts

For the moment, we aren’t entirely sure why some people experience the effect of marijuana withdrawal while others seem to be able to quit smoking, vaping, or eating it on a whim with very few repercussions, but there are some really interesting things that we have learned about this phenomenon through our research over the years.

  • Occasional consumers almost never experience marijuana withdrawal

  • Withdrawal symptoms will vary greatly from one person to the next, with some able to continue with day to day activities and others left rendered incapacitated because of the severity of the issue

  • There is no way to know for sure whether or not you will experience marijuana withdrawal, because it could happen at any time, even if you’ve quit smoking or using cannabis with ease in the past

  • Some people should seek the help of a medical professional to go through withdrawals

  • Cannabis withdrawals are of no danger to your health, and though you might not feel the best while you endure the discomfort, you can rest assured that you will survive the process

  • Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can last for anywhere from a few hours to several days

Signs and symptoms of withdrawal

As we mentioned before, the severity and the number of symptoms that you might experience could differ greatly from other individual experiences, so it is impossible to say for sure what will happen if you are unfortunate enough to experience withdrawal from cannabis, but after many years of documenting adverse reactions from users themselves, we have a pretty good idea of what’s possible.

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Body aches and pains
  • Frequent urination
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Depression

These, of course, may or may not all apply to you, but if you’ve recently quit smoking and felt any of the above symptoms, then it is safe to say that you’ve experienced marijuana withdrawal.

How to cope with quitting

Everyone deals with this transition differently, but with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can do this!

1. Talk yourself up

It might be hard to imagine going without the tingly sensations that you’ve come to know and love, which is why it’s important to go easy on yourself when you experience minor setbacks. A small puff here or there isn’t enough to put you back to square one.

2. Seek the guidance of a medical professional

If you do go through marijuana withdrawal symptoms, then it can help to have the assistance of a qualified doctor to help, be it to prescribe something to reduce discomfort or by directing you to other helpful resources and supports.

3. Stay hydrated

Drink all of the water that you can to reduce the potential of headaches and to keep your energy levels up. It can also help to push the remaining cannabinoids from your system quicker, making the uncomfortable period fly by much faster.

4. Keep busy

Pick up a hobby, read a good book, or start up a garden. It really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it keeps your mind occupied and hands full so that you aren’t tempted to spark one up.

5. Eat healthily

Very few of us eat balanced meals, to begin with, but when you’re going through something that can be challenging for the body to adjust to, it is more important than ever that you pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. So, stick to foods with high proteins and low sugars to help you to feel better.

If it’s too hard, then you might want to consider microdosing

We can’t all afford to take a week off work to feel ill, and in some cases, the benefit is not worth the outright devastation to the system that can be induced by quitting, which is why we highly recommend microdosing instead. Seeing as most people choose to quit because it’s getting too expensive, or because the effects are interfering with their lives or productivity, microdosing can offer a viable solution that can take the edge off without the potency.

No matter what you choose to do, quitting cannabis can be really hard to do, so it’s best to take all of the advice that you can get to make the transition smoother, and don’t forget to give yourself credit for trying, because, in the end, your mindset will have a great influence over whether you succeed or fail with your plan. So, stay strong, take time for self-care, and do whatever you feel that you have to do to get through this.

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