What Happens When You Stop Smoking Weed
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With the widespread legalization of recreational marijuana, more and more people are giving grass a try. But what many do not know is that overuse of the herb can cause problems when you eventually want to quit.
There is a lot of hype and claims that marijuana is not addictive leading to many people oversimplifying the ease with which you can detox from chronic marijuana use.
There is part truth to this theory; cannabis does not cause physiological dependence like what alcohol and other drugs do. That said, do not imagine that you will wake up one day and say “no more” after many years of use and that will be it. You will definitely need to put up a fight to cleanse yourself from weed, especially if you have been on it for a long time. Cannabis withdrawal is presently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental health disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5).
When you stop smoking weed, the first 72 hours can be hell on earth. Weed is lipophilic and gets stored in fat cells. Once your body is starved of weed, the fat cells will break down (lipolysis) to give up the THC that they are holding. The THC will give you a form of marijuana “high” that may cause irritability, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and extreme paranoia. These severe symptoms can persist for two weeks, depending on how long you have been using marijuana and other individual factors. In some extreme cases, the withdrawal symptoms may prolong for months, in this case, it is referred to as Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS).
What happens in Detoxing
Detoxing is the process through which your body gets rid of the toxins that it has accumulated over the years. For weed, the process is not just physical but also psychological. THC in weed has psychedelic properties and will alter one’s perceptions of reality over time. When one is detoxing from long term use of weed, their mind will need to readjust to a new reality, which may be a daunting process. On the other hand, physical symptoms may be present after prolonged use of marijuana. This may include any or all of the following:
This is a common symptom experienced by many chronic users after they quit pot. They may be prone to anger outbursts, being fidgety and may even resort to physical aggression. Speaking to a physician may help, should this persist for more than two weeks. Many rehabs are equipped to handle cannabis withdrawal symptoms adequately.
When THC is abruptly withdrawn from the body, the person may go into a state of paranoia as the body tries to readjust back to the pre-marijuana state. Tranquilizers such as benzodiazepines may be used in extreme cases. Otherwise, non-drug therapies are effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown great results too.
This is another symptom that occurs after prolonged use of pot. It may also be as a result of frustration when the mind and body are trying to readjust to the pre-marijuana state. Weed is a mood elevator and sudden withdrawal may result in depression.
When this happens, you may be tempted to going back for another joint. But remember that eventually, you will get back to the same point where you desire to quit, whatever reasons brought you to that point in the first place. It may be better to bite the bullet once and for all.
This is a frequent symptom when weed is stopped abruptly. This may also be accompanied by other symptoms related to sleep disorders such as having nightmares, sleepwalking etc.
Other symptoms associated with marijuana withdrawal include; changes in appetite, GI disturbances, weight changes, and fever and chills.
At the end of the day, symptoms will vary from one person to the other. Some people may battle symptoms for a few days and move on quite well after that, but a few others may need to seek help from trained therapists or drug rehabs. If you fall in the second category, do not hesitate to seek help.
- Drug Policy Alliance: Marijuana Legalization and Regulation. Retrieved from http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation
- Healthline: What to Expect from Marijuana Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/marijuana-withdrawal
- American Addiction Centers: Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS): An In-Depth Guide. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/post-acute-withdrawal-syndrome
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Is Marijuana Addictive? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive