If you are a heavy marijuana smoker, you will probably experience at least a few withdrawal symptoms when you quit. Don’t let this scare you – they aren’t too bad, and they will go away pretty quickly if you take care of yourself.
Most people report similar side effects:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Sleepiness during the day
- Lack of appetite
- Brain fog
This isn’t a complete list, but those are the most effects of quitting weed. In my experience, some of these symptoms can be avoided or at least greatly reduced. Others you just have to push through.
Now let’s get into specifics. The following is a list (in no particular order) of tips for getting through the withdrawal period as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Understand That You Do Have A Physical Addiction
Enough with this nonsense about cannabis being “just a psychological addiction.” Yes, it is mostly psychological, but there is obviously a physical component too given that THC and other cannabinoids actually get inhaled into your body and interact with your cells.
It’s helpful to keep this in mind. Some of the effects of stopping smoking weed are a sign that THC is leaving the body. Sweating at night is a prime example. So are headaches and muscle tension. These are unpleasant side effects, but when you consider that they are a sign that THC is actively leaving your system they are actually a good thing.
Lower Your Expectations (Temporarily)
Even if smoking weed is making you miserable, you shouldn’t expect to feel great immediately. A lot of people quit only to become discouraged when they don’t feel better, and maybe even feel worse.
Assume you will have at least 2 full days where you don’t feel like yourself. Most people have at least 3 or 4 days. Then you will start to feel much better, but there will still be lingering physical side effects for 2-3 weeks.
Don’t Let Physical Side Effects Trick You
The sneaky thing about THC withdrawal symptoms is that they have a way of convincing you that you really do need to get high. Even if your list of reasons for quitting is a mile long, there will come a point (usually in the first few days) when you question whether it’s even worth it.
This is just a trick that your mind is playing on you. Don’t let it fool you. If you smoke up now you will regret it immediately, and you’ll be back to square one.
Withdrawal Symptoms Will Go Away
Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. Your body will gradually adjust to not being bombarded with THC every day. For some, things will normalize within a few days, but it might take a few weeks for others.
It’s important to remember this, because us humans are notoriously bad at projecting how we will feel in the future. We tend to assume that the way we feel now will be the way we feel in the future. This is called “affective forecasting” and it’s a big reason why many people stay addicted.
Lay The Groundwork During The First Few Days
As I mentioned, the first few days are the most difficult. You’ll likely feel unmotivated and lethargic. However that does not mean you should mope around and be lazy. The first few days are critical to your long-term success, so you need to spend your time wisely.
It’s tempting to spend those days in bed watching Netflix, but that’s the wrong approach. This laziness could quickly form into a habit and go on indefinitely. After a while you will think that your life is pretty much the same without cannabis, and you might decide it makes no difference if you go back to smoking.
Instead you should lay the groundwork for your success. Exercise. Revamp your diet. Apply for new jobs. Even if you don’t feel like it. Doing this creates momentum that will only increase as the withdrawal symptoms pass and you start to feel better.
Stay In Motion
Don’t sit around after you quit. Stay in motion. Be busy from the moment you wake up until late into the night. Fill your days up with purposeful activities, even if you don’t feel like it.
The worst thing you can do is sit around and browse social media. That sort of complacence will quickly make you feel tired, depressed and anxious. Staying in motion is the best way to avoid feeling that way.
Don’t Worry About Sleep
Forget eight hours. You’ll get however much you get, and it will be fine. Go to bed only when you’re tired, whether that’s 9 pm or 2 am. Don’t spend hours laying in bed trying to fall asleep – that never works.
The paradox about sleep is that you’ll fall asleep much easier when you’re actually trying to stay awake. This obviously doesn’t mean you should drink coffee at night, but it does mean that you should be doing something that you want to stay awake for. Working on an important project should do the trick.
Even if you end up getting only 4 hours of sleep a night during the withdrawal phase, you still probably wake up feeling more rested than when you were smoking weed. Back when I got high before bed I would wake up feeling haggard 100% of the time, even if I got a full 8 hours of sleep.
When You Should Worry About Sleep
With that said, there are obviously situations when you should worry about lack of sleep. If you’re experiencing crippling insomnia then you should seek help. I can’t tell you where to draw the line- you have to use your best judgement. But it’s fairly uncommon to have truly severe or long-lasting insomnia when you quit cannabis. More likely you will just have some less-than-full-night’s sleep for an extended period. A small price to pay for freeing yourself from weed addiction.
Speed Up The Process
You do have some control over how long withdrawal takes. The key is to remove cannabinoids from your body as quickly as possible. This means making the most of your body’s natural detoxification methods. Eat plenty of fiber. Drink plenty of water. Exercise until you sweat buckets. Burn extra fat by lifting heavy weights. Not only will doing these things help speed up withdrawal, they are also great ways to boost your mood. A win-win.
Be Grateful For The Skill You Are Building
It’s tempting to look at all the people who aren’t addicted to cannabis and feel envious. But by overcoming your addiction, you will be making yourself tougher, more resilient, and more confident. You are rising to the challenge and becoming better in the process. Most people are undisciplined and complacent. The discipline you cultivate while quitting weed will be an valuable asset for the rest of your life.
Stay Off Forums
I think forums about quitting weed are generally a bad place to hang out when you’re trying to quit weed. The people who post on these forums do not represent everybody. A lot of them are just there to complain instead of deal with their issues. You will read about how awful it feels to quit weed, and how hopeless things are, and on and on. I always found forums discouraging and so I don’t recommend you spend time on them.
That said, I realize everybody is different. The right forum might be a source of support and encouragement from people going through the same thing as you. Maybe some day I will write a post on the best forums.
Should You See A Therapist During Withdrawal?
You should only see a therapist if there is something else in your life that you need help with. But if you see one because you’re feeling stressed about your weed habit and withdrawal symptoms then you are wasting your time. In my opinion, a therapist’s role should be in helping you cope with the life stressors that weed caused you to avoid.
Should You See A Doctor During Withdrawal?
It depends what for. If you are experiencing symptoms beyond the things I described above then by all means see a doctor. But if you see your doctor because you’re feeling sad about quitting weed, or because you’re not sleeping 8 hours, they might prescribe you medication even if it’s unnecessary.
I say unnecessary because some physicians will prescribe medication after spending only a few minutes with you, and getting only a limited glimpse of what’s going on in your life. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds might help, but they have their drawbacks. Antidepressants are often prescribed incorrectly (especially by non-psychiatrists) and have a mediocre success rate; anti-anxiety drugs might be effective in the short term but they are incredibly addictive.
Solve Your Own Problems!
As you can see, I don’t recommend professional help for the typical symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. You are capable of dealing with these issues. Don’t put the responsibility for quitting on someone else. Nobody knows you better than yourself, so it makes sense that you are the best one to consult when you encounter setbacks.
The withdrawal side effects of quitting weed are a nuisance, but they won’t seriously harm you. With a little preparation, perspective, and mental toughness you will get through it with few problems.