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Detoxing from Marijuana

Marijuana detox can be challenging with symptoms like anxiety and cravings. The process often takes up to a month, with discomfort peaking in the first few weeks. Medical supervision can help manage symptoms and prevent relapse.

Struggling with Marijuana Addiction? Get Help Now

Marijuana detox can be a lengthy process. It isn’t as intensive as detox from other drugs, like opioids, but it can still be uncomfortable and difficult. 

It’s rarely life-threatening, so you can try to detox from marijuana at home. But people who try to quit on their own often relapse. And if you do, you may become less likely to try sobriety again.

Marijuana Dependency

Almost 20% of all Americans have used marijuana at least once. As states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, many people believe the drug isn’t dangerous.

Unfortunately, regular users can become physically dependent. When they do, they can feel ill if they try to kick a pot habit. Researchers say close to half of regular users experience cannabis withdrawal when they try to quit. Even people who use marijuana products for pain (rather than to get high) can develop withdrawal symptoms when they quit suddenly.

Are You Dependent on Marijuana?

You use marijuana almost every day, and you’ve done so for years. Each hit you take changes your brain, and in time, your cells won’t work properly without marijuana’s presence. Physical dependence is common among regular pot users. 

You could be physically dependent on marijuana if you meet the following criteria:

  • You need more. Tiny doses no longer deliver the response you want. You use more in one sitting or shorten the time between hits. 
  • You crave marijuana. When you’re not using marijuana, you think about it. You’re always planning when you can get more or use it. 
  • You feel uncomfortable. When you’re not using, or it’s been a long time since your last hit, you feel physically or mentally ill. 

Physical dependence is not the same as addiction. People who are addicted have a second set of symptoms involving their habits. Someone like this will do the following:

  • Use marijuana in high-risk situations, such as before driving.
  • Keep using marijuana even when it causes problems in their relationships.
  • Give up other activities in favor of using weed. 

Someone with a physical dependence can develop an addiction in time. The key is to stop using marijuana before more problems start. 

What Happens if You Quit?

Long-time users develop withdrawal symptoms within about two days of quitting marijuana. It can take almost a month for your brain cells to return to normal.

A marijuana withdrawal timeline often looks like this:

      Week 1: Physical symptoms of withdrawal appear and intensify.

      Week 2: Physical symptoms fade, and mental issues arise.

      Week 3: Mental health issues persist, and cravings begin.

      Week 4: Mental health issues lessen, and cravings fade.

Marijuana withdrawal timelines can be extremely variable. The drug hits your system quickly if you smoke it, but it persists longer if you ingest it. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can stay in a long-time user’s body for an incredibly long time. Researchers say THC’s half-life in infrequent users is 1.3 days, but the half-life in frequent users is up to 13 days.

If you’re a long-time user, your withdrawal symptoms could start later and last longer. Never assume that you don’t need help because you feel fine within the first few days.

Common Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can be mental and physical. Both are distressing. People who have them may feel so impaired that they’re unable to go to work, attend class, or otherwise enjoy their lives.

Common cannabis withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anorexia
  • Poor sleep
  • Abdominal pain
  • Night sweats
  • Tremors
  • Drug cravings

About 10% of people who move through marijuana detox experience worsening changes in their mood, energy level, and appetite if they return to cannabis use. Staying sober after detox is vital, as it’s the only way your brain cells can heal.

Should You Get Help in Quitting Marijuana?

Since withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, it’s tempting to move through the detox process at home. This can be a risky choice. 

People who detox at home may experience the following:

  • Relapse: Many people use marijuana to ease anxiety and depression. If these symptoms appear during your at-home detox, you might be tempted to turn back to drug use. A relapse extends your recovery time and could make your next attempt at relapse even harder.
  • Distress: Your anxiety and restlessness could peak, making the process very stressful.  
  • Dehydration: You may eat and drink less when you don’t feel well, and this could leave you feeling weak and shaky. Prolonged dehydration is extremely hard on organs like your kidneys. 

During medically supervised withdrawal, your team can use medications for nausea, anxiety, and insomnia. When your symptoms are less overwhelming, you’re more likely to finish the detox process. Your team can support you and encourage you so you’re less likely to drop out of detox early. 

Marijuana & Your Body: Can You Detox Quicker?

No one wants to spend weeks or months feeling uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there’s no way for doctors to flush marijuana out of your body faster. 

Marijuana molecules can be stored in fat cells deep within your body. You’ll need time for your organs to process the toxins. And your brain cells need time to adjust to a life without marijuana. 

Your doctors can keep you calm and comfortable in a medically supervised withdrawal program. You’ll be more likely to finish the healing process as you won’t be desperate for relief. But even doctors can’t make withdrawal happen faster. 

3 Ways to Prevent Marijuana Dependence

The best way to shorten a marijuana withdrawal timeline is to avoid getting hooked in the first place. These three strategies may help.

1. Take Time Off

Don’t use marijuana every day. Dedicate at least one day each week to sobriety. These short breaks can help your brain cells to heal. 

Pay attention to how you feel on your sober days. You may find that you’d like to curb your use even more. 

2. Cut Back Your Use

Each time you load up your pipe or pick out a gummy, take a little bit less. Cut back your marijuana use slowly in a tapering fashion. You’ll give your brain cells time to adjust in a slow and controlled manner.

Once you’re using no marijuana at all, think about whether you should start again. You may find that a sober life works better for you. 

3. Delay Drug Use

If you’re younger than 18 and haven’t started marijuana yet, this advice is for you. People who start using pot before they are 18 years old are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana problem than those who started later. 

Put off your first hit for as long as you can. 

Get Help for Marijuana Addiction

Of people who use marijuana, approximately 3 in 10 have a marijuana use disorder. If you’re one of them, you can get better. That’s true even if you’ve tried to quit in the past and failed. 

Most people entering marijuana misuse treatment programs have tried to quit more than six times. What they couldn’t do alone, they can do with help. 

A treatment program offers wraparound support so you can address both the physical and emotional side of marijuana abuse. If you need help to quit using marijuana, enroll in treatment today.

Updated March 25, 2024
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