What You Should Know About Quitting Marijuana

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Marijuana use can become problematic for certain users. In fact, approximately 9% of adults who use marijuana become addicted.1
For those who have trouble quitting on their own, professional treatment can help. It’s important to examine the benefits of quitting as well as the reasons why you want to quit.

Treatment Center and Recovery Program Options

It is possible to quit using marijuana your own. However, those with severe and/or long-standing addictions may have a better chance of long-term success by enrolling in a formal substance abuse treatment program.

There are several different treatment options for marijuana addiction. The right treatment program depends on a number of factors, including how long you have been using marijuana and at what intensity, and whether you also have other mental or physical health issues.

Treatment options include:

  • Outpatient treatment, in which you continue to live at home but go to a treatment center. Outpatient marijuana rehab ranges from as little as 1 hour a week of individual counseling, to several hours a week of combined individual and group counseling, to intensive day treatment programs, where you go to treatment every day for up to 8 hours.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment, where you live at the marijuana rehab center for a length of time ranging from a few weeks to several months. During the day, you will engage in treatment-related activities, such as individual therapy, group therapy, drug education and relapse prevention plan development.
  • Individual therapy, in which you meet regularly with an addiction counselor on an individual basis. Treatment generally includes addressing the roots of your drug use, creating a relapse prevention plan and assessing and treating any co-occurring mental health conditions.
  • Group counseling, which includes a group of people who are working to quit marijuana or other drug use. Several different types of groups are used in substance abuse treatment, including psycho-educational groups, skills development groups and support groups.
  • 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous, offer support from peers who are in various stages of recovery. Participation in 12-step meetings is encouraged as part of many treatment programs and is an integral component of many aftercare plans.

Using Aftercare to Stay Clean

Following treatment, a solid aftercare plan can be beneficial for lasting sobriety. The components of an aftercare plan vary. But a good aftercare plan should address all the areas of your life that were affected by your addiction.

Aftercare may include:

  • Individual therapy to address co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Family therapy to address family interactions that contributed to your addiction.
  • Group counseling, which may include skills development to cope with everyday life stressors.
  • Random drug and alcohol testing, as this accountability can help prevent a relapse.
  • Sober living resources, such as transitional housing programs for recovering addicts.
  • Vocational and career support, including vocational training and job-search support.
  • Participation in a support group, such as a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects

After you stop using marijuana, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. The longer you used marijuana, and the higher the intensity of your marijuana use, the higher the likelihood that you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

It is not dangerous to quit marijuana suddenly. However, the withdrawal symptoms may be more intense than those seen in people who gradually decrease their use.

man depressed from marijuana withdrawal symptoms

Mental symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Craving for marijuana.
  • Irritability.
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Feeling angry.
  • Feeling bored or restless.
  • Difficulty sleeping, and tiredness during the day.2, 3

Physical symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Sweatiness.
  • Shakiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Decreased or increased appetite.
  • Weight gain.2, 3

Although withdrawing from marijuana can be uncomfortable, it is not life-threatening. Medically supervised detoxification, which includes medications and supervision from a health care professional, can be helpful to avoid relapse in the face of withdrawal. But it is not necessary in every case.

Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms begin within 1 to 3 days and peak after about 2 to 6 days.

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 1 to 3 days after the last use of marijuana, peak about 2 to 6 days after the last use and subside in about 2 weeks. The exception to this is sleep disturbance, which may last longer, possibly due to sleep issues being a problem before marijuana initiation.3, 4

While withdrawal symptoms usually subside within 2 weeks after quitting, some marijuana users experience withdrawal symptoms for up to a year after quitting.3, 4


Benefits of Quitting

You may notice many benefits after quitting marijuana. Several of these are the opposite of the negative effects of using the drug. You will see some of these benefits immediately, while others may take up to a couple months.

Treatment may help you recognize these benefits more fully, especially if you had problems in any of these areas before you started using.

Benefits of Stopping Marijuana Use
  • More money, due to not spending it on marijuana
  • More energy and motivation
  • Improved focus, concentration and memory
  • Improved educational success
  • Improved lung health
  • More balanced mood – marijuana has been linked with depression, anxiety, psychosis and suicidal thoughts
  • Renewed interest and joy in activities, due to drug dependence no longer dictating your decisions and feelings of happiness
  • Better sleep
  • Improved relationships, due to not having to hide marijuana use from friends and family, or avoid situations in which marijuana use isn’t possible 1

Tips for Quitting

If you don’t think you can quit marijuana use on your own, or if you’ve tried to quit before and relapsed, you would probably benefit from seeking professional help at a treatment center.

You may find the following tips helpful as you begin any type of recovery process for marijuana addiction:

  • Write down goals and stick to them.
  • Get rid of anything that reminds you of using marijuana, including all paraphernalia.
  • Make a list of the pros and cons of both using marijuana and of quitting.
  • Write down the reasons you want to quit and refer to them every day.
  • Find new activities to get involved in.
  • Avoid friends who use marijuana.
  • Make new sober friends or rekindle old friendships with people who don’t use marijuana.
  • Join a support group such as Marijuana Anonymous.
  • If you “self-medicate” for mental health symptoms, consider seeing a therapist or psychiatrist to treat these underlying mental health symptoms.


Help an Addict

If someone you know is addicted to marijuana, your support can help him or her quit. When approaching the person about your concerns, your conversation will be most productive if you follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure that both you and the person who uses marijuana are sober when initiating the conversation.
  • Approach him or her in a private place when you will have enough time to talk.
  • Make it clear that you are coming from a caring and loving place and want to help.
  • Don’t be confrontational, judgmental, angry or threatening. These approaches are likely to make the marijuana user defensive and angry, and will not lead to a productive conversation.
  • Be ready to point out specific observations and how the person’s use has affected you.
  • Use “I” messages rather than blaming.
  • Encourage the person to seek treatment and have a list of resources ready to give to them.

Find a Rehab Program

If you have a problem with marijuana or know someone who does, now is the time to get help.

Browse the state directory on our homepage to find treatment facilities near you.

Sources

[1]. National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2015). Marijuana: Research Report Series.

[2]. NIDA for Teens. (2015). Marijuana Withdrawal is Real.

[3]. Levin KH, Copersino ML, Heishman SJ, et al. (2010.) Cannabis withdrawal symptoms in non-treatment-seeking adult cannabis smokers. Drug Alcohol Depend., 111,120-127.

[4]. Budney AJ, Moore BA, Vandrey RG, Hughes JR. (2003.) The time course and significance of cannabis withdrawal. J Abnorm Psychol.,112,393-402.

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Last updated on December 7, 2018
2018-12-07T21:30:51+00:00