Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Marijuana Withdrawal Revisited


Is cannabis addictive?

See also Marijuana Withdrawal


Until recently, there was very little evidence in animal models for marijuana tolerance and withdrawal, the classic symptoms of addiction. For at least four decades, million of Americans have used marijuana without clear evidence of a withdrawal syndrome. Most recreational marijuana users find that too much pot in one day makes them lethargic and uncomfortable. Self-proclaimed marijuana addicts, on the other hand, report that pot energizes them, calms them down when they are nervous, or otherwise allows them to function normally. They feel lethargic and uncomfortable without it. Heavy marijuana users claim that tolerance does build. And when they withdraw from use, they report strong cravings.

While the scientific evidence weighed in against the contention that marijuana is addictive, there were a few researchers who were willing to concede the possibility. “Probably not, for most people,” a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Chemical Dependency Program told me in the late 1990s. “But there may be some small percentage of people who are on the same wavelength with it chemically, and who end up in some way hooked to it physically. It’s a complicated molecule.”

The difference between animal models and humans may be the difference between pure THC and naturally grown marijuana. Despite the fact that rats and monkeys find whopping doses of synthesized THC aversive in the lab, psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel, in his book Intoxication, has documented numerous instances of rodents feeding happily on wild marijuana plants in the field. There are apparently other components in the psychoactive mix that makes marijuana what it is. When the lab version of THC is hundreds of times more potent that the genuine article, it is hard to know exactly what the research is telling us.

Some of the mystery of cannabis was resolved after researchers demonstrated that marijuana definitely increased dopamine activity in the ventral tegmental area of the brain. Some of the effects of pot are produced the old-fashioned way—by means of neurotransmitter alterations along the limbic system’s reward pathway.

A report prepared for Australia’s National Task Force on Cannabis put the matter straightforwardly:

There is good experimental evidence that chronic heavy cannabis users can develop tolerance to its subjective and cardiovascular effects, and there is suggestive evidence that some users may experience a withdrawal syndrome on the abrupt cessation of cannabis use. There is clinical and epidemiological evidence that some heavy cannabis users experience problems in controlling their cannabis use, and continue to use the drug despite experiencing adverse personal consequences of use.

The U.S. government’s essentially unchanged opposition to marijuana research has meant that, until quite recently, precious few dollars were available for pot research. This official recalcitrance is one of the reasons for the belated recognition and characterization of marijuana’s distinct withdrawal syndrome.

To pluck one statistic out of many, representing estimates made in the late 1990s, more than 11 million Americans smoked marijuana regularly in the NIDA-sponsored “National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.” What NIDA has learned about cannabis addiction, according to the principal investigator of a recent NIDA study, was that “we had no difficulty recruiting dozens of people between the ages of 30 and 55 who have smoked marijuana at least 5,000 times. A simple ad in the paper generated hundreds of phone calls from such people” (This would be roughly equivalent to 14 years of daily pot smoking).

There now exists a nice body of clinical trials showing that mice and dogs show evidence of cannabis withdrawal. (For THC-addicted dogs, it is the abnormal number of wet-dog shakes that give them away.) Today, scientists have a much better picture of the jobs performed by anandamide, the body’s own form of THC. This knowledge helps explain a wide range of THC withdrawal symptoms. Among the endogenous tasks performed by anandamide are pain control, memory blocking, appetite enhancement, the suckling reflex, lowering of blood pressure during shock, and the regulation of certain immune responses.

These functions shed light on common hallmarks of cannabis withdrawal, such as anxiety, chills, sweats, flu-like physical symptoms, and decreased appetite. At Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, where a great deal of NIDA-funded research takes place, researchers have found that abrupt marijuana withdrawal leads to symptoms similar to depression and nicotine withdrawal.

In a 2003 research report entitled “Nefazodone Decreases Anxiety During Marijuana Withdrawal in Humans,” published in Psychopharmacology, researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute used Serzone (nefazodone) to decrease some symptoms of marijuana withdrawal in human subjects who had been regularly smoking six joints of pot per day. Anxiety and muscular discomfort were reduced, but Serzone had no effect on other symptoms, like irritability and sleep problems. The drug did not alter the perceived effects of marijuana intoxication (the SSRIs didn’t, either). Serzone is another antidepressant, a modest inhibitor of serotonin and norepinephrine, but its mechanism of action is ill defined. It is not in the SSRI or tricyclic families.

To date, there is no effective anti-craving medication approved for use against the marijuana withdrawal syndrome, for addiction-prone individuals unlucky enough to suffer from it.

For more, see earlier posts:

Marijuana Withdrawal

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Photo credit: 2nd International Cannabis and Mental Health Conference Programme

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110 comments:

daksya said...

Better than an anti-craving agent would be one that attentuated withdrawal. In rats, lithium did the trick, as did oxytocin. In humans, it worked in 4 or 5 out of 9 subjects despite lower plasma levels relative to the rat study.

Dirk Hanson said...

daksya:

Thanks for the citations on lithium for marijuana withdrawal.

Question: Even if you had medical help for withdrawal, isn't continued craving after withdrawal a problem that could cause relapse?

daksya said...

That depends on what one thinks are the reasons for addicts to keep using drugs. This review makes a good case for negative reinforcement, especially for the potency of craving. So, an agent that prevented withdrawal, would, at the very least, strongly reduce the severity of dependence.

Ultimately it comes down to political inclinations. If one's position is that any drug use is inimical, then, yes, what's required is an anti-craving agent that does its work within limited administrations (else you're replacing one drug with another). But if, as I think, it's certain patterns of drug use behavior that are malignant, then successfully tackling withdrawal and tolerance will help get rid of such patterns of drug use.

BTW, if you haven't already, you should check out DrugWarRant.com

Dirk Hanson said...

Nice site you have there--keep up the good work.

I do disagree with the contention that negative reinforcement sufficiently accounts for all withdrawal symptoms and craving. People with strong addictive propensities take drugs because their bodies are telling them something is wrong--often well before any exposure to drugs of abuse. Some people are, so to speak, "born to smoke," although the negative reinforcement of abstinence certainly contributes to the problem.

daksya said...

I do disagree with the contention that negative reinforcement sufficiently accounts for all withdrawal symptoms and craving.

Negative reinforcement doesn't account for any of the withdrawal symptoms; it accounts, I believe, for most of the craving within a drug-addicted individual.

People with strong addictive propensities take drugs because their bodies are telling them something is wrong

That's negative reinforcement

often well before any exposure to drugs of abuse.

Now, you're talking about drug initiation, and there are a variety of motives for drug use, including stress and depression.

Some people are, so to speak, "born to smoke,"

If the endogenous biochemistry of these people drives them to use drugs, then there can't be, in fact, an anti-craving agent unless it suitably alters that biochemistry with a few doses. Otherwise, you are simply replacing one drug with another. So, something that tackles withdrawal and tolerance will enable these individuals to control their drug use much better, whereas an anti-craving agent won't really be much help.

P.S. Drug WarRant isn't my site.

Dirk Hanson said...

If the endogenous biochemistry of these people drives them to use drugs, then there can't be, in fact, an anti-craving agent unless it suitably alters that biochemistry with a few doses. Otherwise, you are simply replacing one drug with another.

-------
Yes: You are replacing the use of an addictive drug with a preventative, non-addictive maintenance medication. Sort of like pills for high blood pressure or diabetes. Seems like an improvement to me.

Drugs for drug addicton--fighting fire with fire--is the future of addiction treatment, in my opinion.

You seem to be discounting the fact that, regardless of set, setting, mood, class, race or poverty, certain people will become addicted to addictive drugs, and certain people won't. The sociological approach to sorting out those two groups is being largely abandoned, in part because of sophisticated twins studies showing how little effect these outside influences have on the onset and course of addiction.

daksya said...

You are replacing the use of an addictive drug with a preventative, non-addictive maintenance medication.

Are you using "addictive" to mean 'mind-altering'?

If not, then it's a distinction without any real difference.

And if so, then that's a political preference, over which we disagree.

Dirk Hanson said...

daksya asks:

"Are you using "addictive" to mean 'mind-altering'?

If not, then it's a distinction without any real difference."
----------------

No, I'm using "addictive" to mean "addictive." Or is addiction to any mind-altering drug a concept with which you disagree?

Addictive mind-altering drugs: cocaine, heroin, speed, alcohol, etc.

Non-addictive mind-altering drugs: LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, Prozac, MDMA, etc.

daksya said...

Then I don't see how your anti-craving agent (ACA) is non-addictive.

As I understand it, per your scenario, when a person who is "born to smoke" takes up pot & then gets addicted to it. Decides to quit, and so takes up ACA on a maintenance basis as you envision. Then what happens if said person wants to quit ACA? If they do, their internal chemistry resumes and they are again left with the craving for something to alleviate that internal chemistry. That's the same pattern that the original drug produced.

If the ACA doesn't permanently alter their brain so as to reduce the need for any substance, then the ACA will simply substitute for whatever it's replacing. Then why object to the original addiction in the first place, unless it's for reasons other than its addictive nature per se, like health effects or social acceptance? It's also likely that any ACA suitable as a maintenance substitute will mimic the original drug's pharmacology to a considerable extent.

Dirk Hanson said...

"It's also likely that any ACA suitable as a maintenance substitute will mimic the original drug's pharmacology to a considerable extent."
------------------

That's a very real problem in the design of anti-craving drugs, no doubt about it. The methadone trap.

What comes to the rescue and disrupts your overall scenario is neural plasticity. Just as the brain had to adjust in the first place to the artificial flood of "feel-good" neurotransmission, so an effective anti-craving drug will help create the time away from the drug that allows the brain to retrain itself to function effectively without the addictive substance. And here, of course, a bunch of cognitive and social factors do come into play, even though relapse itself is primarily a biological imperative triggered by deep survival structures in the brain.

Anyway, does all this mean we end up merely back on square one? Abstinent but ready to resume use due to negative reinforcement? Sometimes. But in other cases, such as Zyban/Wellbutrin for nicotine craving, the outcomes have been quite good: a bunch of former smokers, and nobody addicted to Zyban in its place.

daksya said...

so an effective anti-craving drug will help create the time away from the drug that allows the brain to retrain itself to function effectively without the addictive substance.

Yeah, but your brain is adapting itself to function with the ACA present in its stead. It still has exogenous interference.

As for Zyban (bupropion), this trial shows continuous year long abstinence at 14.6% in the Zyban group v.s. 10.3% in the placebo group, so a very moderate rate of success. Even with the best treatment in that comparison trial, 76% don't achieve long abstinence, and 10% of that could be attributed to the placebo effect.

Chris Jones said...

Thank you for your article on marijuana withdrawal. It is very timely and helpful. I do experience the anxiety noted. The first 7 days are almost unbearable but I find that Tramacet helps. I can get through the day okay but the evening is roughest. 1 Tramacet at 6 pm helps with the worst cravings and allows for a decent night of sleep.

Morte Cerebrale said...

Hmm, informative site, its nice to read a fact-based scientific and critical page that overestimates my intelligence rather than just giving vague advice..
However, that being said, I notice theres a bit of non-pragmatic stuff on this and other sites on how to treat THC withdrawals. Some people doubt the very fact of pot addiction, and imply that its a symptom of some kind of lack of moral fiber. Some of those assertions on this excellent site are centered around as yet not fully complete biochemical knowledge, some based on more psychological or sociological reasoning.
As a health professional on my 7th day of abstaining, I am reminded of what I was taught "the best qualified expert on a patient's pain level IS that patient."
That so many people should have identical psychosomatic symptoms seems a little unlikely.
It also seems a little silly to me to question the mental "strength" of people who have had symptoms for many days and are prepared to keep on kicking the s**t..

Dirk Hanson said...

"That so many people should have identical psychosomatic symptoms seems a little unlikely."

It certainly seems unlikely to me--and to almost everybody who has ever posted here.

Dirk Hanson said...

"its nice to read a fact-based scientific and critical page that overestimates my intelligence"
-----
Yeah, well, nobody ever went broke OVERestimating the intelligence of the American.... no, wait, I got that wrong, how does that go....

Morte Cerebrale said...

Thanks for the cool responses Dirk!
I am now in day 15, and Einstein's
time-distortion when travelling at light speed is NOTHING compared to my throwing out my bong. Was it really 10 days ago I posted that comment?!?!? I really am completly blown away by that, it FEELS like a couple of months ago!! Its funny how those 10 days would have just flown by if I was still gurgling and coughing ALL my cash and a lot of life-experiences away.

Now I feel cocky enough to offer some sage advice!! It has been tough, but this time I'd only smoked for months, before I managed to live life instead.
Usually it been years, but I guess it must be a little like herion or something, 'cause it seemed like latent long-term abuse-effects reared its ugly head anyway. I still had(!) the sweat soaked bed, and beads of sweat on my forhead if I even thought about walking. And it felt like I was over-dosing on bad speed. What REALLY helped me personally, were those old-fashioned drowsiness-inducing anti-histamines, which my doctor put me on because they are far less addictive than benzo's. I am not saying that they are a cure for the sleepnessless, but that they HELPED, some. And I still have to treat them with respect, 'cause I can get addicted to anything..
ALSO, knowing that its the addiction talking, when the WHOLE WORLD SCREAMS at me that it demands that I toke up.
Because, I mean, JUST LOOK AT THE INHUMAN; IMPOSSIBLE-TO-DEAL-WITH-S**T I am expected to put up with!!
Sound familliar? Its horrible, that feeling. But it does ease off with time.
Cutting back on the coffee.
Oh, and exercise.. An incredibly boring and quite depressingly daunting concept when sitting in my chair, but it really works for a LOT of people. I dare say everyone actually.
Anyway, the fun of not handling any sort of problem without almost collapsing into self-pity and utter irritation is waiting for me outside. Along with the good, intense feeling of actually being in the here and now!

Anonymous said...

Great article. I am on day 3 of not smoking weed, and i must say i am completly misserable (as is my spelling). I am experincing head aches, stomach aches, i am much more "snappy" at people for things that shouldnt make me mad. The biggest thing for me though is the lack of sleep and the lack of desire to eat. I must admit i have smoked very heavily for the last 5 years. ( about 2 ounces a week). the cravings really hit me hard on day 2 and today(day 3), although i just went for a walk to calm myself down. I do not seem to have any desire to eat at all though. Havent consumed food in 30 hours now, but when i try to eat it just taste plain and i get full off very little. As for the sleeping, its 2 am so that tells you how thats going. i have slept a total of 2 hours the last 3 days, and thats when i crave the most, trying to fall asleep. Any suggestion or helpfull tips? Im more than open to them.

Morte Cerebrale said...

Mate, to be honest I'm pretty much in the same boat again, having relapsed after a house-fire and working too much...and I guess for no good reason at all, too. So, sitting in detox now ( I tend to eventually get to drinking a lot too ) and been here for 5 days. Climbing the walls, but at least I feel like I'm not as tempted to relapse, because here they expect me to be snappy and shitty.. 60 g's a week? You must be suffering man... Anyway, as stoopid as it might sound, the only thing that really helps me is two hours of exercise a day. It helps calm me and act more rational to people who dare look at me on the bus, lol. It helps get me knackered enough for a couple of hours of sweat-filled sleep, and it REALLY helps me eat ( aleiviates the "help, this bite of sandwich is expanding in my mouth" syndrome ). I tend to get out on my snowboard or mountainbike, because then the aggression can be directed at the mountain and not at innocent bystanders to the tragi-comedy of my day. Also, the old drowsiness-inducing anti-histamines ( taken by the mouthful, unfortunatly )
Anyway, thanks for the kind words, we gotta hang tough (aaaaarrrrggghhh!!!) because its going to get worse before it gets better. Day 10-14 is commenly accepted as the worst.. Maybe try to get to get some therapy? Thinking of you, and the holiday and things I can afford again soon..

Dirk Hanson said...

Anonymous and Morte pretty much lay out the usual suspects, withdrawal-wise. I don't have a brilliant idea for combatting the irritation and snappish behavior that is part of the deal--exercise, like Morte says, is probably as good a defense against anger/irritability as anything. And yes, food can taste like cardboard for awhile--an opportunity for some weight loss, if needed? Sleep is tough--the less sleep, the more irritable. Benydryl and other OTC allergy medicines make some people drowsy enough to bag it in for the night. If not, you might ask a doctor for a prescription for Desyrel, aka trazadone, an old, rarely used antidepressant that didn't work so well because it made people extremely sleepy. Its safety track record is good; it's been around for like forever.

Morte Cerebrale said...

Thank you, thank you kind sir. For both the reply and the suggestion. I will ask the nurse here about those (a rather dry lol) if the sleepy times still elude me.
The staff at this detox-center are really recommending a ADHD appraisal for me, something that quite a few people have mentioned to me. And I'm getting to think maybe theyve got a point. Just because its an over-diagnosed thing doesnt mean that it doesnt pertain to me, I guess... And I've noticed that a LOT of people who are constant tokers are pretty hyper, and/or "sensation seekers". Any thoughts on that, Dirk, or anyone?

Dirk Hanson said...

I don't know about a connection between ADHD and pot smoking, but it's possible that weed functions a little like ritalin for such people--it helps them focus. The "sensation seeker" part fits directly into some earlier research indicating that addicted people have high risk/low arousal metabolisms. Meaning that the ordinary mood lifters of the day that ordinary people respond to just don't pack enough punch for low serotonin/low dopamine addicts. A normal person walks into a busy, smoke filled gambling casino at 2 o'clock in the morning, let's say, and their reaction is often "ugh, I'm going to bed." Whereas an addict is likely to walk into the same casino setting and smile and say,"my kinda people." Addicts skydive, drive fast, injure themselves more often, etc.

Anonymous said...

Help! I need help diagnosing my symptoms. I am a daily smoker for many years and quit cold turkey a week ago for a job. I have chills, nausea, vommitting, muscle aches, feel lathargic, anxiety, moody and just plain like crap. I have quit once before during my pregnancy and NEVER had any symptoms. What gives? What worries me is the muscle aching.

I am tempted to go to the doctor because I am convinced there is no way withdrawls can be this bad from marijuana.

Please help ...

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, one more thing, I was the last post ....

I spent a hundred bucks on some detox pills that you take for a week. I am wondering if I take those and get all this crap out of me if I will feel better?

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is currently experiencing extremly bad withdrawl symptoms. I've read all the information you have posted and have taken all the advice you have given(he's loving the exercise lol). I've been giving him gravol(dimenhydrinate) to help him sleep and combat the nausea. I was wondering how long these symptoms will last? He's been smoking 5 years approx 1/4 oz per week. Any advice yo could offer would be much appreciated.

Dirk Hanson said...

I wish there was a totally reliable and consistent answer to that question. Based on posts here and at other pot withdrawal sites on my blog, I would say that 90 per cent of people appear to fall in the 3 weeks to 3 months range when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. An unlucky few report having significant withdrawal effects for 6 months or more.

Come to think of it, that's not so different from the time line for most people when they quit smoking cigarettes.

Andrew said...

This is all completely brilliant, and rational. Thanks to everyone and esp. to the blogger, for *telling the truth*.

Anonymous said...

That was a good exchange at the top of this comment section with daksya and Dirk. This blog is fantastic, the best I have found on the web. I smoked daily for 20 years. I am 40 now. I began when I was 15. I quit March 3rd, 2009 so I am about 80 days in. I had tried many times before. Always unsucessful except 3 years ago and 10 years ago I went for 6 months each time.

I can confirm all of the withdrawl symptoms reported and add one that I have yet to find on this site. Confirming irritability, insomnia, excessive phlegm, cravings, sweating, restlessness, mild anxiety, boredom, depression, and so on. The vivid and intense dreaming/nightmares (not widely reported) seem to be the main concern I have now at this stage of my withdrawl (80 days). As I understand it, pot keeps you from entering the REM stage of sleeping (the deepest level of sleep) and/or keeps you from remembering any dreaming you have done. It is because your body/mind is not used to this stage that it comes roaring back with a vengence. I am sure it does not help that I live a stressful life. Although a very "functional addict", my business causes me great stress. The dreaming is so intense, I can wake up with nervous shakes and even palpitations from the adrenaline. I also go back to sleep and right back to the same dream, many times to replay it or to find a variance of the same topics. In the dreams, I am many times aware that I am dreaming but can't wake up out of them. Very vivid, very intense, even after I wake up it takes me a little while to reconcile that they were dreams and not reality. Please comment if anybody else is experiencing this.

Most of the other symptoms have subsided entirely and did within the first 30 days. I believe the intense dreaming can last 6 months+. Exercise absolutely helps me. Fast walking daily for 45 minutes or so. This gives me some joy to go into the outdoors, makes me tired, makes me hungry, (after a good cool off period) and gives me a nice injection of natural high from the dopamine and other chemicals produed from exercise. It seems to make any depression ease and feel good about myself and life.

tim part 1

Anonymous said...

tim part 2:

As an all day pot smoker I was the most apathetic (other than my biz) person you could find. I never wanted to do anything or go anywhere unless it involved and permitted me to smoke every hour. My life revolved around it. If I traveled, I had to smuggle it and enough to get through. I spent $1000 or more a month on it. 2+ ounces of the high end stuff. Although I was motivated in business, everything else was a complete waste of time unless I could be smoking. What a sad exisitence.

I have read that your attention span is permanaently ruined after chronic smoking. Dirk, have you found this to be true? I still find it hard but less so, to want to concentrate on one thing for a long period of time. It was much worse when I was still smoking.

After the first time I quit for six months, 10 years or so ago, I just miseed it so much, life wasnt fun, I started again. The same thing happened 3 years ago or so. I was overdoing my business and neglecting everything else. I missed it, I started. Always with the "only on the weekend", or "only in the evenings" intention but us OCD-obsessive-compulsive personalities don't stand a chance. I do know people who can moderate, I can't.

So why did I quit? Health, family, try to live a "here and now" life. I was wheezing, and coughing up phlegm all the time, surely lung disease was next. My kids are 17 and 14 and I hope to find the patience and desire to spend time with them, my marriage has held on , but things are not very good. Perhaps it's too late? Either way I am on the edge, even though most of the withdrwal symtoms are gone, I still miss it, still crave it at times, especially on the weekends when I have time to kill. I am not sure if I will make it. I like saying that when I am 60, I will go back to it once I can afford to die from it and my life is played out at that point. How awful.

How do I get over the 6 month hump?

I hope what I have written here is helpful to others. I hope others can comment and give me some help.

Tim

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for the detailed post. And thanks for the kind words about the blog.

Surely there is some sort of rebound effect involved in the intense dreaming. On the other hand, I have found myself wondering whether an ordinary person's relatively normal cycle of dreams and nightmares might be experienced more intensely by a chronically dream-suppressed pot smoker. Just thinking out loud.

As for permanently ruining one's attention span through overuse: To me, the brain seems so plastic in its ability to change and compensate and heal that I'm wary of calling ANY kind of change permanent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think you are correct that after being dream supressed for so long, I (x-pot smokers) have to get used to the new found cognition of dreaming. Many of the dreams include usage and posession of pot which always cause me to feel guilty and upset with myself within the dream, evidence that I really want to quit and stay off.

On the attention deficit situation, I also agree. Quite bad for me as a chronic user, less now that I quit. The brain is powerful and plastic and can adapt with time. I am glad you see this and it relieves me to hear it from somebody of knowledge as yourself.

Are you still drug free? (assuming you were a user) That site drugwarrant.com seems toa advocate cannabis usage and it's legalization. How do you feel about that? If moderated use is achievable for some, do you think it is as acceptable?

Tim

Dirk Hanson said...

As someone who has been an AA member, I prefer to stay short on the personal specifics. And hey, I post here under my own name! :-)

I am in favor of some form of legalization as an alternative to the current legal clusterfuck over cannabis. After all, we know that at least 10% of drinkers become alcoholics, but this does not stop us from making it legally available.

I believe in harm reduction strategies and an end to the drug war, so called.

Anonymous said...

yes, understandable on the personal stuff. Just wanted to know if the blogster can personally relate.

I assume then your books don't go there either.

From your answers, now that I have read the main blog 400+ responses I can see you relate well either way.

What % of cannabis users become chronic users or past the socially acceptable point? Here and in places where it is legal?

If it becomes legal, it would still be bad for me, I would be in that x% of abusers. In fact selfishly, I hope it does not, as it would tempt me greatly. To really make a neutral opinion, I would have to learn more about the movement and it's implications.

Can you elaborate a little more on what you mean by harm reduction strategies?

Tim

Dirk Hanson said...

Not to worry; the blogster can personally relate.

Re Harm Reduction--the short answer is, Drug wars never work. No amount of Viet Nam-style escalation or sheer military firepower is capable of preventing people from getting their hands on illegal drugs. Moreover, current youth programs treat all young people as if they are at equal risk. Harm Reduction strategies involve the view of drug use as a social and medical issue, not a legal and moral one.

Anonymous said...

I have been an off and on user for about 5 years now. just recently i had went back to smoking weed after a year of quitting. then one particular day i smoked a unusually large amount of weed and i was using blunts. i shared 2 blunts with a group of friends and then i smoked again when i got home with my lady. then one of my peoples came over and we smoked another blunt. unknowing to me at the time, he brought over some purple haze and i loaded the blunt like it was regular weed. so immediately after getting high with him my heart rate skyrocketed to the point where i thought i was having a heart attack. i vomited up everything that was in my stomach and i could barely breathe. its been a little over 2 weeks and i have had so much trouble breathing and sometimes when i go to sleep i wake up all shocked and scared like i was one of those mummies returning from the dead....this morning, my heart rate skyrocketed two times shortly after one of my sleeping episodes and i was worried that it had something to do with my heart itself and not withdrawal. but i went to the doctor last weak and had an ekg and they told me hy heart was fine. so right now i am trying to find answers because i keep having the urge to use the bathroom 10 to 25 min. apart. what the boss is goin on?!?!?!

Dirk Hanson said...

I don't know if this is what happened to you, but one of the strangest and little-discussed pot effects is really an odd one: Sometimes, after smoking regularly for years, a smoker will get really high and for some unknown reason, he or she has a full-blown anxiety attack as a result. And from that point on, they stop smoking, because a reliable recreational drug now induces nasty panic attacks. I've never seen this particular toking phenomenon addressed, let alone explained. But I personally know three people to whom this has happened.

Anonymous said...

That is EXACTLY what is goin on. i have tried to get to sleep and its like every time i do try to go to sleep that my mind and body jumps out of sleep. i was thinkin that maybe it was a stressed induced panic attack, but i wasnt too sure....is there any way that i can fix the problem so i can go to sleep, of do i have to deal with this until the weed gets out of my system?

Dirk Hanson said...

I'm no doctor, but if you have panic attacks and serious trouble sleeping, you might consider talking to a physician about possible short-term treatment options.

Anonymous said...

First of great site.

I've been a moderate marijuana smoker for 7 years. On regards to panic attacks and smoking marijuana, I've had them and they suck. This was at a very stressful time for me and marijuana made things much worse. I had Depersonalization/Derealization brought on during an episode of opiate withdrawals. But, I think it has a lot to do with your mental state, setting and type of marijuana. I would recommend indica over sativa, as these to have significantly different effects.

Dirk Hanson said...

" I would recommend indica over sativa, as these have significantly different effects."

And about half of smokers would recommend sativa over indica. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Really, I think if you go on some of the boards focused only on marijuana, you'd find that at least 90% of them agree with me. People post question related to marijuana panic attacks daily there, i know because I was one of them.
50-50? Where'd you get that pertaining to anxiety?

Dirk Hanson said...

I was just pointing out that arguments about indica vs. sativa are sort of like red vs. white wine. Everybody has their favorite. A lot of the top strains are mixtures of both as you are no doubt aware. I wasn't aware that most smokers feel sativa is more prone to causing anxiety. Do other posters agree?

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed this blog, I appreciate the intelligence of some of the posters, and identify with almost every entry in this list. I think we are all looking for encouragement and answers to make it easy, just like smoking a joint will make it easier to deal with your stress... hmm.

Other than daily moderate marijuana use for the past 4 years, I am an exceptionally healthy female, aged 26. I exercise regularly, practice relaxation techniques like Yoga, and lead a rewarding career as an Entrepreneur. I have little emotional stress in my life that would lead me to resort to marijuana use to 'escape', but tend to use it in social situations. About a month ago, I decided to quit cold turkey. It was simply a positive, definite choice. I have absolutely experienced all of the possible withdrawal symptoms mentioned in previous posts, but only for the first week or so. I am now still feeling a bit 'blah' if you will, or mild depression/lethargy/demotivation. I have not resorted to any kind of OTC option to control my symptoms, but simply accepted that my body must rid itself of the toxins I have flooded into it over the past few years.

Like any addiction, however extreme or benign, it all comes down to mental commitment and a positive reason for quitting! Like anything in life, if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, you will. If you doubt yourself, you are accepting the possibility that an external substance has more power over your body than your mind does - which is not true. If you want to quit, do it. Yes, you may experience some discomfort, but absolutely no growth can ever be achieved without moving past your comfort zones. You can do it!

Joe said...

I have been smoking pot for 7 to 8 years and have tried to quit numerous times. Now I am quitting againthis is day 6 of no pot and I am experiencing all the withdrawls mentioned here I used to smoke about 2oz of pot a week. It has seriously affected my life such as losing jobs, my gf/fiancee dumping me because I would take money and blow it that crap and then lie to her about it so we would not fight. I could not think straight or anything. This is a little note for people using pot please stop it affects way more than just a good feeling it mess's up your home life work life because everything revolves around you just trying to get that high and to me now being at rock bottom it is not worth the feeling you get out of it. thank you for letting me vent on your site

Kevin said...

"I don't know if this is what happened to you, but one of the strangest and little-discussed pot effects is really an odd one: Sometimes, after smoking regularly for years, a smoker will get really high and for some unknown reason, he or she has a full-blown anxiety attack as a result. And from that point on, they stop smoking, because a reliable recreational drug now induces nasty panic attacks. I've never seen this particular toking phenomenon addressed, let alone explained. But I personally know three people to whom this has happened."

this is the same exact experience I had 5 days ago at night. After smoking I had the worst panic attack of my life out of know where that put me in a state of shock. I didn't know it was the pot, but the next day I decided to quit. Now IM on day 5 and it's getting better but still very rough. I was smokng medical weed and hash at it's finest, boy is my brain doing some major rewiring right now!! Great blog.

Anonymous said...

This is the best blog I've read about this subject - thank you. I've been smoking daily (about 3 joints a night) for 26 years and have now suddenly stopped mainly due to lack of availability. If I could score I would but the towns dry as a desert. I'm now on day 6 and have experienced all what other posters have said. For me, Its the wild wacky intense dreams that freak me out. I can't sleep for more than 3-4 hours and often wake sweating. Pillows, sheets damp. I have to get up for an hour and do something to cool down (watch tv, surf net) before being able to return to sleep - but the second sleep is never really a proper sleep, more a case of just lying there drifting in and out of consciousness until I just can't sleep anymore, so i get up. It means i get to work earlier than I've ever got to work before and i find by keeping busy i alleviate the boredom. The evenings are worse as this is the time i would normally smoke and i'm climbing the walls with boredom. I've found my cigarette smoking has increased almost double and I've started drinking again (been sober for 3 years) trying to knock myself out like i used to with weed. This is really tough. However after reading the comments here and now going 6 days I'm thinking hey, i might as well give up. My dealers are saying nothing around for at least another week, however i don't understand how my fellow smokers are not suffering like i am so i only guess they got secret supplies and won't share with me as they know there's nothing around. I'm being forced to give up. Although, i guess i do want to give up but just can't face the massive hurdles I've got to go through. I've lost my lady because of it. I've spent thousands. I've been putting chores and diy projects off for years due to lack of motivation. Yet my business life has been highly succesful but then i'm in the music business so it kind of explains how i've got to this point in my life. I now realise the reason i smoked was due to boredom. I'm shocked that other posters are saying their still having the weird dreams after 6 months - for me as a daily smoker for 26 years how long am I going to have the weird dreams for? Its enough to make you want to smoke but I realise that this can't go on any longer and I must quit. It aint easy I can tell you but after the first 2-3 days of pure hell it does start to get a bit easier. Whether I can do this (I'm single with no emotional support from anyone) I just don't know but I guess the lack of availability will force me to give up. Good luck to ALL of you trying to stop - I do know what your going through and its hell. Lack of appetite and enthusiasm. Constant cigarette smoking and increased alcohol consumption. I know I'm annoying my friends with constant phone calls asking if anyone can help me out with some weed - they all say NO, maybe next week. Grrrr it aint easy man but as one friend said - if you do smoke again you only got to go through all of this again in the future so better to get it over and done with now. Thanks for reading - you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

I found that I was experiencing actual withdrawal symptoms only hours after the last toke. Because of this, I developed an anxiety problem that co-existed with my addiction to pot. I'm 41 and have been smoking since I was 15. I've had terrible panic attacks while under the influence and completely sober, all of my problems I'm sure were caused by my addiction to weed.
I decided to finally quit because my life began to fall apart. I was having fear issues and becoming agoraphobic, not to mention having memory and learning problems. And let's not forget the paranoia!
I'm 2 weeks in and have been experiencing all the major withdrawal symptoms:night sweats, anxiety, depression,insomnia and strange dreams/nightmares. The first few days I couldn't eat very much. All the things I loved before (music, art, movies, etc.) I seem to have no interest in anymore.
The worst thing I'm experiencing has got to be the anxiety. At times I feel as if I'm in some other world; a miserable place that seems fueled by nervousness, hopelessness and fear. Since I was already experiencing panic and anxiety before quitting, I hope quitting for good will in time rid me of this problem.
I'm one of the long time users Dirk described as experiencing anxiety from pot and then deciding to quit because of it.

Anonymous said...

i think most of the withdrawal effects are a result of repressing emotions. Most of us toke to feel better, , often times to take us from the past and bring us into the moment, or maybe to try for some insight into the future, some would be the other way around, not accepting the moment or seeing their potential and wanting things to be like they used to be. I think it depends on what you've dealt with in your life, how your life is going, and whether you're actually repressing things that you don't like to deal with or if you're only blazing for leisure. We'll abuse any substance if we're depressed.

Dirk Hanson said...

"i think most of the withdrawal effects are a result of repressing emotions."

Personally, I don't think so. But you have stated the hypothesis very clearly, I grant you that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the blog and all the posts. Its great to see im not alone. I have been a chronic user (oz a week) for the past 12 years since i was 16. How did i afford that at 16 ? selling it. Anyway I have tried to quit several times and the furthest i have made it is the 14 day mark a couple of times but i always relapse. I experience the same set of annoying withdrawal symtoms as previous posters, insomnia, night sweats, vivid dreams, feeling flu like sick, loss of appetite and depression. But the 1 sympptom that really always causes me to start up again is the extreme irritability..... with me it is very extreme, it reaches a point of violence and destruction. Everytime i try to quit i end up getting in fights or in extreme scenes out in public with me just freaking out on people. My wife usually cannot take it anymore and encourages me to start smoking again (she doesnt smoke). I have convinced myself that this is just how I am ( a phycotic freak ) and the marijuana has been my self medication to alleviate this and i need to find a replacement medication. I want to quit because it effects my motivation to run my business properly and my lungs are in bad shape, (have collapsed twice) and i just dont want that feeling anymore of being stoned all the time and being dependent on it. Whenever I smoke again after i have tried to quit... i immediately second guess everything i did or said during the "sober" withdrawal period... I look back over emails and send apologies to people because of how much of a dick i was. I feel paranoid and anxious about the consequences of things i did and said during my sober withdrawl period... The anxiety comes for me not during withdrawl but right after i start smoking again...but its not uncomfortable enough to cause me to stop. Its the lack of effort i put into my life and especially business that makes me want to stop the most. I dont really care about the dreams or any of the other withdrawl symptoms i can deal with those, I just need help with the extreme irritibality, it is bad enough to make keep smoking a much better option then trying to quit.... On one hand my business will fail and i will lack motivation but at least i wont be in jail or worse which is what will happen if i quit without tackling this irritability. Is it possible that the irritibility will get better over time if i make it past 2 weeks somehow (maybe detox, havent tried that) ? Or do i need to find a prescription to deal with it. Could i be right about it being an underlying issue that i have actually been treating with the cannabis ? Or is it caused by withdrawal but for whatever reason this symptom is more extreme for me? This is the question i am struggling to answer today. I do travel alot with work and am too paranoid to smuggle or look for pot in places i go to, so these irritable fits often happen at very inoppurtune times when i could get locked up abroad because of it.

Dirk Hanson said...

"Is it possible that the irritibility will get better over time if i make it past 2 weeks somehow (maybe detox, havent tried that) ? Or do i need to find a prescription to deal with it.... I do travel alot with work and am too paranoid to smuggle or look for pot in places i go to, so these irritable fits often happen at very inoppurtune times when i could get locked up abroad because of it. "

----------------------------

--The irritability lessens with time, but can be a real problem, that's for sure. I'm no doctor, so can't advise on prescription drugs, but I do advise people to talk to their doctors, if they have one they get along with.

--A lot of people have chosen to give it up because of travel paranoia--you either have to smuggle, or buy risky, or go without. Not a good option in the bunch.

Andre said...

Hi, I didn't think I would eventually post here but it's 4:20am here and I can't sleep.
First of all I would like to thank Dirk for all the information you have posted on this blog. Keep up the good work. Some people really appreciate it (myself included).

Second, I would like to address all those kids that say that people who get addicted to weed (Myself included once again) are weak minded. I believe you are the ones who are weak minded and cannot conceive of the idea that every mind is different nor do you know what the "mind" truly is. I can't say that I am "old" but I certainly am older than most of you.

I've been smoking since I was 13, smoking daily since I was about 15 and I am now almost 23. For a long time I've thought I wasn't addicted, that's until about 2 years ago where I started to realize weed was really dragging me down, but the thing is that once you realize it, it's already too late, it has a grip on you.

That grip might not be that strong, but letting go is like saying goodbye to a good friend or breaking up with your girlfriend, it really is. You love mary-jane but you know you could do better with your life and you don't want to waste anymore time hanging out with someone who is bringing you down.

When I was a kid, people around me thought I was a genius, my teachers said that I was the smartest kid in class and that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. I still believe I am a very smart individual but weed has slowed my progress down to a crawl and now I'm feeling depressed because of all the time and opportunities that have passed by.

There are 2 major events that hurt me inside the most.

One of them was when my grandfather died. Weed made me into such a coward. Not a coward in the sense that I would run away from a fight. Believe me, I have anger issues so a fight would be the last thing I would run away from. But it was too scared of dealing with things that are real and social situations and such. I ended up not going to see my grandfather on his death bed. I will never forgive myself for this. Never.

The second thing was one time where my father came home with his boss' corvette and asked me to take a ride with him. I declined, because it was an opportunity for me to be home alone and get high. I will never forgive myself for this either. Instead of spending quality time with someone whom I love and loves me more than anything in the world, I got high.

I'm not saying weed is the thing to blame here, I'm the one who made these decisions, but believe me, they were all influenced by this drug. They are not the only issues I have with this drug, but they are the ones that I will never forget.

There is one thing that people don't seem to take into account, or maybe it's just my personal experience. I know alot more people who drink alcohol than people who smoke weed, yet I know alot more people who have problems with weed (and don't realize it, yet) than people who have problems with alcohol.

I am now on day 12 of quitting. I found this site on day 2, looking for withdrawal symptoms and I can say that I have had most if not all of them. They aren't that bad tho, but they're definitely there. Some days I feel better than ever, and some days I have irrational anxiety and depression and the feeling that things will never get better and that I should just smoke weed. Tho I can't really call them cravings because I never find myself thinking "maaan I wish I had some weed right now". It's much more subtle.

Some things might've escaped me in this post, I will post again if I ever feel like there is something I left out.

To all the "kids" screaming out "PROPAGANDA" I say, tell me about it in 5-10 years.

To those who say "Heyyy I'm an adult and weed has helped me greatly". Good for you, but this blog was never for you. It's for people who want or need to quit.

Andre said...

(my post was too long so I had to post it in 2 parts, this is the second part.)


Thanks again Dirk, this blog has helped me understand what I was and still am about to go through. I will not quit the fight.

Oh, I almost forgot about the good quitting has done to me. When I was younger my mind was as sharp as a knife but over the years it got duller and duller. I had actually forgotten how smart I was and who I actually was but it's only been 12 days and I feel like almost everything came back to what it used to be, on the days that I feel great that is. There are some days where I just feel irritable and depressed and my mind feels just as cloudy as before but I know that after a while this mist will go away forever.

Sorry for the long post and sorry if my english is bad.

Dirk Hanson said...

"To all the "kids" screaming out "PROPAGANDA" I say, tell me about it in 5-10 years."

You got that right. Another decade, and the thing will sort itself out, like it does with alcohol, and a few of the kids screaming "you're just a weak schmoo" will get their chance in the ring against addiction. In the meantime, have pity, remember we were all told repeatedly by all the experts that you could not get "hooked" on marijuana. So they're just parroting the truisms they're familiar with. It'll change.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I've been smoking about a quarter everyday for the past ten years depending on free time and wanted to know other peoples experience if it takes some people days, weeks, months for appetite to return back to normal because I'm two weeks in and food still tastes bad and forcing protein shakes to keep up with daily calories. Also lifting and keeping busy. I can tell I'm hungry and stomach empty but can't put anything down. Pizza, steak, anything that used to taste awesome tastes bad.. Hope appetite comes back soon. I went through the other symptoms, just insomnia and appetite left to deal with I hope. Hopefully to make it through with everyone trying to quit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, first of all I would like to say this is a great site and you all are writing things I can relate with. I have been smoking for 20+ years and have had a few short breaks in that time.About a year ago I went through a move and was having health problems so I decided to quit.After about 2 weeks I had my first panic attack.I think it was a combo of moving in a stressful environment, health issues and not smoking.I quit for maybe a month or so then every time I would smoke I would get anxiety.By the way I smoke the super strains so I think it is partially since my tolerance is so low now.Then asa summer rolled along i started using all day and night. I started getting bad blood sugar swings and eating way too much crap and my health was suffering. So now I am trying to stop again and let me say withdrawal sucks! Restless, irritable, boredom to name a few.One thing that I think needs to be addressed is brain chemicals. I take Tyrosine during the day now and that helps me motivate and I take 5htp sometimes at night to help me relax and sleep.I like the enteric coated 5htp and only take 50milligrams.5htp raises serotonin levels which become severely depleted in chronic users.When I smoke I feel like I get a seritonin boost and then later I crash and need another boost.When I'm out with my friedns and i take that first hit i would say"ah, back to normal" they would look at me weird but that hit would make me feel normal and not all down.I've noticed the 5htp gives me that normal feeling similar to that first hit.Anyhow I hope to be able to not smoke to the point where I don't even want it.I often wonder if I could get to the point of just smoking on occasion or giving it up completely.The stuff is so potent nowadays and I seem to get anxiety from it now so maybe quitting is best.Anyhow I'm on week 2 and I'm craving the herb! I have surgery scheduled for next week and I'm going crazy sober, but I think if I smoke it may make me think more negative.Good luck to everyone and we can get through this.

Dirk Hanson said...

"When I'm out with my friends and i take that first hit i would say"ah, back to normal" they would look at me weird"
----

In a nutshell, that is the difference between addiction and recreational use. Addicts smoke to feel NORMAL, and this is not an idea that makes any sense at all to "normal" people.

Dirk Hanson said...

PS--
I used to stand on the brink of a dark Lake Tahoe casino, full of brooding drinker and chain smokers at 2:00 in the morning, and say: "Ah, my kind of people."

Tristan said...

I must say, this thread has me both terrified and relieved. Like everyone else here, I am currently trying to kick the habit, (1 week in) and I am relieved that other people are and have experienced the INTENSE withdrawl symptoms that I am (anxiety, agitation, sweating, nausea, insomnia, etc). However, I am a bit nervous after reading the 6 week detox report above. I thought week 1 would be the worst... I am not looking forward to weeks 2-5.

I'm in my early twenties, and I've been "perma-stoned" for the passed 6 or 7 years basically. I have poor self discipline and was smoking from wake up to bed time on that potent cali green... needless to say there is enough THC in my system at this point to sedate a small elephant.

I am trying to quit cold turkey, but my question for Dirk or whoever may care to respond is:

Would "weening" myself off the drug, by substantially lowering dosage and frequency of use, effectively lower the THC levels in my system, help my body out of its dependency, and make the withdrawl symptoms less intense and debilitating?? Or is that just my brain doing anything it can to justify continuing to take the drug it loves so much??

Thanks again to all who have posted on this thread, its refreshing to see intelligent discourse on a subject that rarely gets the attention it deserves... and I am tremendously glad to know I'm not in this alone!

Dirk Hanson said...

"Would "weening" myself off the drug, by substantially lowering dosage and frequency of use, effectively lower the THC levels in my system"

-----
You can certainly give it a try, but tapering your way to abstinence doesn't have a very good track record for any addictive drug other than coffee. If you look at alcohol and cigarettes and cocaine, the tapering method has been pretty well discredited. It calls for even more self-discipline, in a way, than total abstinence.

Anonymous said...

Ativan completely eliminates all mild symptoms of marijana withdrawal. However it is not really neccessary. It is about the same as caffeine withdrawal or opiate withdrawal from DOCTOR PRESCRIBED opiates taken at the appropriate dosage...that is, the amount they give you when you break a bone or get a puncture wound or a back injury, taken for two to four weeks. It is not very strong. I find the only thing I miss in the long run is the beautiful piney taste. Everyone who smokes knows its all about the flavor, much like tobacco used to be, before they started making freebase nicotine the norm. The thing with pot is that usually the stronger it tastes the stronger it is in its physical effects. I found pot to be relaxing with tolerance effects much the same as coffee or alcohol... the first time you smoke it is overwhelming just like the first cup of coffee made you sweat profusely and creates a feeling that you have blabber like a toddler about anything and everything. After the first few times the effects change from psychadelic journey to just plain contentness and well being with that beautiful flavor being the kickoff. If you hate pot or you are afraid of it, or think its evil, then I feel bad for you because you are missing out on one of nature/God's greatest gifts to mankind. It is just the right strength where its effects are not overwhelming on consciousness or aweareness, although you are impaired. I have noticed that often I felt that I was waaaayyy more intoxicated than my behavior may suggest. You really can't tell when people are stoned, except the first few times, or if you know them very well. It does not affect behavior very much, it actually inhibits behavior more than it promotes extraordinary behavior. Most peopl who commit crimes are not high on pot; alcohol or cocaine maybe more of a factor there, as these substances produce unpredictable behavior, that others or yourself cannot predict.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim, nice copy and paste job. Someone has been copying and pasting a fake story about how marijuana ruined some guys life...I have seen the same story with the same facts and same tone on hundreds of sites. Its just propaganda, a copy and paste job. Pot is no worse than coffee or alcohol for most people...proof of this being that anti-pot groups have to make up these stories, because noone smokes pot then joins an anti-pot group...anyone who has tried pot knows that it isn't evil and doesn't make you do bad things and certainly doesn't ruin your life any more than any other recreational activity, like ATV riding for example. I would say McDonalds is worse for you, healthwise.

Tristan said...

"If you look at alcohol and cigarettes and cocaine, the tapering method has been pretty well discredited."

what about nicorette, the patch, and those approaches to quitting cigs?? this is more or less what gave me the idea. your thoughts?

Dirk Hanson said...

Good point. Patches/gums are indeed a form of nicotine tapering. I was thinking in terms of systematically cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked per day, until the number reaches and stays at zero per day. That particular approach is not, to my knowledge, very successful.

I'm guessing part of the difference is that the diffusion of nicotine into the bloodstream with patches and gums doesn't really give you the cigarette buzz you're looking for. It just keeps the cigarette jones from becoming overwhelming.

It's by no means a perfect solution, but especially in conjunction with Chantix or Zyban, does seem to work for plenty of smokers. Thanks for pointing that out. Whether there's any way of translating that specific case into some kind of THC taper, I can't tell you. Although it's not hard to speculate about some future form of marijuana patch or gum for people trying unsuccessfully to quit weed.

Anonymous said...

Wow...Am I glad I found this site and I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to post your experiences. It's made me feel much better.

I'm a 44 year old male and have been smoking pot daily for nearly 20 years. I am very active and have obtianed a national ranking in my age group for the sport I play. I am also financially successful as I own my own company. I wear a suit and tie everyday and if you met me the last thing you would think is that I am a dope smoker. This, I think has added to my addiction because for the last few years I been telling myself that If it was a problem how can I be having all this success? Well, it is a problem because I'm not really me. I'm the stoned me and I want to find the real me again.

This year has been the first time that I've started to hesitate about going on family vacations. Why? because I can't bring my pot with me. I can do okay for a day or two but then I start feeling like crap and on the verge of an angry tirade.

I've realized that my morning bong hit just made me feel like myself and that I needed to be high to funtion normally. This realization as made me call bullshit on the whole pot smoking thing. I'm hesitating going on a ski trip with my family because I can't bring my dope with me? Sad, weak and f'ed up.

I'm an intellectual person. I realize that many of you think that pot is not addictive and maybe it's not as addictive as other drugs but it sure has me in it's clutches.

It's been a week and I am having all of the symptoms that I read here. Which makes me feel better knowing that this is the cause of my depressed feelings, anxiety, angry outbursts etc... I wake up tired each morning from the crazy dreams. I'm actually enjoying the dreams! I never remember dreaming and now each night I go on a trip somewhere. Crazy.

Based on your posts I have started to drink lots of water and I'm going to find a sauna and get a massage later to try to sweat and work it out.

I'm comitted to getting through this but I am alone. Nobody knows that I smoked and nobody knows that I'm quitting so all I have is websites like this for support.

You can do it...I can do it.

Please keep posting, your helping more that you know.

Dirk Hanson said...

"I'm comitted to getting through this but I am alone. Nobody knows that I smoked and nobody knows that I'm quitting so all I have is websites like this for support."

----
Thanks for the post. Just as there are functional alcoholics, functional heroin addicts, there are functional secret pot addicts out there just like you. Lots of 'em, would be my guess.

Re family vacations: I know a guy who cut short his dream vacation in Greece and came back home because he couldn't manage to score on the island where he was staying.

What sometimes catches people by surprise is that part of withdrawal involves anger management--made doubly difficult if you're trying to do the quitting in secret, too.
-------

"I've realized that my morning bong hit just made me feel like myself and that I needed to be high to function normally."

Exactly. The core conundrum of drug addiction: taking drugs to feel normal.

My advice is to skip all the nonsense about whether or not pot is physically addictive. That is just sort of an outdated meme that's still around; it falls apart as soon as you start to examine it.

Anonymous said...

I too thank everyone for their posts. I have been smoking for twenty years or so. One or two times a night to relax and "enjoy." Two weeks ago, I had the bad, panic filled experience that was mentioned once or twice on this blog. I spent an awful night of high heart rate and anxiety. I could not stop telling myself that I would never sleep again. Fortunately, I can now see that for what it was. At the time, it was truly scary.

Since then, I quit smoking altogether and have experienced the anxiety/loss of appetite/hopelessness that most have mentioned on this blog. Now, I am mainly left with the insomnia and thus am tired. So very tired. However, I can get through my busy days. And the insomnia has started to ease, but I tend to want quick change, so this blog has helped me see that I must be patient. It also helped me realize that I am going through a real process and I am not nor will I forever be an angst-ridden/hopeless person. Thanks for the help.

Steve said...

There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis is addictive. It took me over 20 years to quit weed and I must have tried 50 times.

I suppose the big question is:- is it the drug or the person?
Why can some take it or leave it while some get hooked?

I would still rather see our towns in the UK filled with passive base heads, than violent drunks though.

Dirk Hanson said...

"Why can some take it or leave it while some get hooked?"

The essential question. I choose to go with the scientists who believe it is because of innate differences in susceptibility. Different metabolisms, different genes. At the extreme ends of the spectrum, you have people who are born to be addicts, and people who are born to be non-addictive.

Anonymous said...

I have only been smoking for a few years and I have been sober for about two weeks and I am experiencing horrible headaches everyday. Just wondering if this is a normal symptom of withdrawl from marijuana? I am not really experiencing any other intense symptoms of withdrawl. I do have anxiety but i had that before i ever started smoking.
As to those people who you say are "born to smoke"; marijuana use is in my blood. My father and mother, grandmother and grandfather smoked all of their lives. You said that these people who are born to smoke may feel like there was something wrong with their body before they started smoking. Well if that is true, then why is it so horrible for these people to continue smoking if it helps them feel normal? Are you suggesting that these people should just live in their misery? Why shouldn't they get the chance to feel just as good as every other person out there? And if smoking pot allows them to do that? I suffered from severe anxiety before i started smoking pot at age twenty. In my teenage years I had such severe panic attacks that i would pass out. and the anti-anxiety medication is horrible. it makes you feel completely numb. I thanked God when i found marijuana. it helped with my panic attacks while allowing me to experience a full range of human emotions. What is so wrong with that???

Dirk Hanson said...

"why is it so horrible for these people to continue smoking if it helps them feel normal? Are you suggesting that these people should just live in their misery?"
---------

If you are referring to me, I haven't suggested anything, let alone that people should live in misery.I'm not a doctor and I don't take any particular stance toward medical marijuana issues.

Headaches are less common, but not unheard of.

Anonymous said...

I am with my son who is fighting this quiting. I believe this is his day 3 he will have to write his final exam in a week time. I am just wondering if this time is good for him to focus for preparing for exams

Dirk Hanson said...

Hard to say. Quitting any addiction during a stressful period can be hard, but life is always stressful in one way or another. Excuses not to quit are easy to come by. But setting a realistic quit date that is not, say, 3 days before final exams is an option, too.

J said...

Great blog Im glad I stumbled upon it. Im on day 5 now abstaining from a 1/4oz a week habit, and still experiencing major hot/cold flashes and major night and day sweating. Anxiety and irritability is at an all time high and appetite is extremely low, the thought of food makes me nauseous. Lots of great data and info here. Makes me feel good to read this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have found this blog very interesting. I am 39, and have been smoking every day since I was 19, been an active grower and my life has revolved around the weed. However, I have recently moved back to the U.S. and my lack of connections has encouraged me to quit. I have only smoked once in the last 2 months, and have been having intense dreams and some depression, but what I noticed most of all is how tired I get. Every day around five o'clock I fall asleep for 60-90 minutes and wake up still tired, something which never happened when I used to smoke. I have quit before, in college for about 3 weeks, and the same thing happened, every day at 5, fall asleep like clockwork. This is making me more depressed, as I feel I had more energy when I used to smoke, but this is probably not true. Has anyone else had this problem? I don't feel like I am not getting a good night's sleep, but am having a lot of dreams, so maybe I am not really sleeping as well as I think I am at night.

Anonymous said...

I have been a heavy pot smoker for the past two years. However, for the past year at least I have had chronic stomach problems when I don't smoke. I throw up after meals when I don't smoke before. I am trying to quit however my efforts are impossible when I am constantly puking for hours straight. I have never known or heard of anyone being that chemically dependent on thc so its really frustrating to me why my body seems so miserable without it. I don't even smoke to get high anymore, just to cure the nauseousness for marijuana is the only substance I have found to fix it. I have multiple tests and lab work performed on me, and endoscopy, an ultrasound, lab and bloodwork...and they all show nothing-that I'm completely healthy.

any suggestions what could be making my body so affected by the absence of thc??
Please I am so desperate at this point.

Anonymous said...

So here's my tale of woe: I got pregnant back in July and quit weed cold turkey. Within a week, started experiencing all of the withdrawal symptoms that have been mentioned by other posters and Dirk, especially insomnia. Because I have struggled with depression and anxiety for the last 10 years, I had been on Lexapro and Xanax PRN for that last 5, but had slowly tapered down off of that to be drug free in order to get pregnant.

Well...once the insomnia started, I went off the deep end with the anxiety and nonstop panic attacks. The whole thing got so intensely bad that my husband and I decided to terminate the pregnancy, but then I miscarried anyways. My psychiatrist says that the combination of MJ withdrawal and all the crazy hormones from the pregnancy running through my system, and no more antidepressants were the major factors that led to my breakdown.

Now it is November, and I have been struggling with major depression and anxiety for months. Went back to smoking after the miscarriage (as well as getting back on the Lexapro, and adding in Klonopin and Trazodone as well, since the anxiety was nonstop and my sleeping completely horrible), but all my mental health professionals told me to stop the weed for good, as it was just making things worse. Kept trying, relapsed a few times (every time I would start to feel better with the anxiety and depression alleviating), but every time I relapsed, the experience of being high wasn't even good (much more paranoid than ever before), and the "hangover" of the anxiety and depression returning full force for a week or more was hellish. So I finally scared myself straight this time and I have now been off for 4 weeks! Hallelujah, I don't even really miss it; I kinda think of it as something that I'm "allergic" to now...it used to be that I needed it to feel "normal" as so many said. I smoked about 1/8 per week and have been smoking daily, multiple times/day, for the last 15 years.

Long story short...the withdrawal symptoms are starting to alleviate a bit for me at long last now that we are moving into the 5th week of sobriety. I am also taking tons of Magnesium and Omega-3 fish oil supplements, both of which are excellent for the brain, and in the case of the Magnesium, my stressed adrenal system as well. Also in an amazing new kind of therapy that mixes Somatic Experiencing with EMDR. See, I used weed for all these years to push down and cover up the traumas of my past that led to the depression and anxiety that I would feel when sober. Any time an anxious thought came in, boom, I would just take a hit and gain perspective. Without that MJ-induced perspective, all of my issues are just POURING out of me, so that's where therapy comes into play.

But light at the end of the tunnel...for real...my symptoms seem better now after a month then they did at the beginning of this ordeal, so hang in there fellow sufferers...I do believe there is hope, even for those of us in the most extreme levels of discomfort and distress. Good luck and much love to all of you...stay strong and you can make it through!

Nate said...

I just wanted to say thank you to Dirk and every other brave soul that has posted their experiences here. I've been smoking everyday for nearly three years, anywhere from an Oz. to a half Oz.a month. I'm 4 days clean and going through the hell of my life. I've experienced all the symptoms listed here, but none of them rival the intense anxiety which has manifested itself in several panic attacks. All I want is to be well. I've been so terrified a few times and it is so exhausting. I can't sleep to save my life. I'm not craving weed at all, in fact quite the opposite. I feel betrayed by my own ignorance, such a champion I was for pot. I'd shout from the rooftops how the idea of addiction was absurd. I literally chuckled when people told me about their marijuana related panic attacks. "Weak minded attention seekers" I believe was how I categorized them. How ashamed and foolish I feel now at almost 5am, awake in bed having had an excruciating cluster of them myself. I didn't even really realize I was an addict. I quit because I was spending too much money on the stuff, as I saw it. I just pray that I won't be in this panic-fueled nightmare for life. I broke down sobbing I was so frightened tonight. Take that as you will, but that just isn't something I do. Take heed everybody; I'm not saying weed is crack, heroin or anything like that. But I parroted every single "non addictive, completely harmless" pro-pot stat I ever read. I loved calling it "the perfect drug". Turns out there's no such thing. And for anybody else out there that might be going through the same thing, my heart goes out to you.

Dirk Hanson said...

Nope, you're right, no such thing as the perfect drug. And no such thing as a drug completely free of negative side effects for everyone, as the collective wisdom would have it for pot. That would really be something: a psychoactive drug... with no side effects! Of any kind! Ever! A moment's thought shows up that idea as inherently absurd.

Nate said...

Question for Dirk. I on Day 7 now and still having a fairly rough go of things. I woke out of a nap into a panic attack. Have I permanently messed myself up here? I can't live like this with panic attacks around every corner. I feel so worn thin. I just can't. Any advice?

Dirk Hanson said...

You're not permanently messed up, and panic/anxiety are almost always part of the mix. Time line varies.

Anonymous said...

Really huge thanx Dirk for this blog and everything you have posted...

When you talk about anxiety, does it necessarily mean paranoia? Because that's mainly what I am experiencing now, in my withdrawal phase, which leads to all the other withdrawal symptoms mentioned in the posts i.e. a general feeling of uncomfort, lack of confidence, hopelessness...or the other way around for that matter.

Also, do you think even a puff or two when out of this withdrawal phase will have past addicts restart all over again? I am pretty sure it is the case while in this withdrawal period. Right?

P.S : I have bizarrely no physical or mental need whatsoever of smoking again now, or in the future, even though I used to be a heavy, daily, smoker.

Best of regards and admiration.

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for your comments. Paranoia can certainly be a part of the anxiety spectrum.

I can't make the call about whether a puff or two, or a drink or two, or a line or two, or a hit off somebody's cigarette, is a move that's open to you or not. Some people can moderate, most steady addicts find it difficult or impossible.

Anonymous said...

I'm on Day 31 right now, and it's weird how cyclical this has been so far. I had pretty bad symptoms only 2 or 3 days in, but they went away after a few more days, then came back with a vengeance around maybe Days 12-18. Since then things had generally been ok, not perfect, but then all of a sudden when I hit Day 30 there were those symptoms again. Today was maybe my worst day of all. Is this normal?

Dirk Hanson said...

Plenty of people testify to an up-and-down ride over time. And self-analysis of symptoms is an inherently subjective task in any event. Do I feel better today than I did on Day 10? Worse than I felt on Day 6? Hard to say sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all for the info. Searching pot withdrawl stuff on the internet is really helping me right now. I am on day two. I am a 42 year old female who has smoked daily for 22 years. I realized that i had been making a lot of excuses for why I need pot....to calm me down, help me sleep, etc. etc. Truth is, I realize it is why my life and career is not further along that it is.
The last couple of years I have developed a dislike and fear of people in general which I began to realize was going to keep me trapped in my house getting high if I didn't do something about it. Thanks again for the info and help. I am sweating and fighting a headache as I write this but also, very hopeful for a new future without dope. :-)

Dirk Hanson said...

Despite dope's reputation as a convivial party drug, most marijuana addicts report sitting home alone, toking up.

Anonymous said...

Hi its me again...the 42 year old female from the previous post. ...actually my name is April. Well I am on day 16 and I am feeling so good that I just had to post. The first 3 days were the worst. Day 3 was rugged as hell. Honestly, the last 5 days I havent even had an urge and in fact quite the opposite, I have NO desire to smoke. I am already noticing great improvements in my life...I am happier,have more energy, my true personality is coming out again and my relationship with my partner and attitude at work have all improved. Plus my fear of people is disipating...I find myself talking to people everywhere I go! I know there may still be some rough days ahead but I am SO GREATFUl I quit smoking and I want to say thank you again to you and all who have posted info and support. Much love, April

Anonymous said...

Hi, its me, April, again. Pretty sure that no one's really reading these posts but they are theraputic for me. I just wanted to report that the peak I was experiencing just a few days ago has turned back into a miserable valley. Today I felt kind of like I did during the initial days of quiting.....headache, sweating, irritable and anxious....and pissed off about all of it. Also it is 12:30...insomnia. I don't mean to play the girl card but I am having raging PMS and in the past I would just smoke heavily through all that....I'd be lying if I said I hadn't had urges to do that in the last 24 hours. The good news though is that I remain smoke free as I am determined to get this shit out of my system. Certainly though I agree with the earlier post about thinking you are through the withdrawls and they pop up again. Hope my pot abstinance-a-log is helpful if not now, then at some point........

Dirk Hanson said...

Very glad to have you posting on your progress. Queen Elizabeth supposedly used weed for her PMS, but there's no good evidence that it helps.

Sam said...

Thanks for sharing everyone! I'm a 50 year old female and smoked occasionally from teenage years until I met my second husband. I was happy to be with someone who could appreciate the use of dope for enhancing music, food and sex on special occasions but was not aware how hooked he was. Ten years on I've smoked joints every night. My teenage daughters have commented on my declining memory but it was not until I embarked on a full time masters degree that the full impact hit. The ability to hold ideas in my head had seriously deteriorated. I got through ok, but I'm certain my cognitive abilities have declined. I am now 5 days dope free, using mild tranquilisers to help with the hideous anxiety and depression.
I am determined but my husband is threatened by my abstinence and is subtly sabotaging me in a variety of ways....I have assured him I love him and that this is about me not him. Has anyone else had this problem?

Anonymous said...

Hey Sam, it's April. I'm really glad you posted as I was beginning to wonder if anyone but Dirk was out there. Today marks 2 months smoke free for me and while I am greatful for my sucess, there have been some challenging days. I wanted to tell you that I had a similar experience as yours with my partner but it was with drinking back when I was a pretty heavy drinker and I was the one struggling with her desire to not drink so much. I know it must be hard for your husband as it is always great to have a smoking buddy but I beleive he is acting the way he is out of fear....fear you guys can't have fun any more, fear you will decide you don't want to be with a dope smoker, fear you won't enjoy intimacy as much etc. As long as you keep assuring him that you will support him in whatever he wants to do and you just ask the same from him he will come around unless he's a dick...but doesn't sound like he is. I am still making realizations about how numb I was a lot of the time when I was smoking....hard to look at, but sometimes that helps me appreciate being more present and in many ways has forced me to start facing my life issues head-on....which is ulitmately going to help me grow as a person. I wish you the best of luck and as a fellow female smoker send you my support. Hang in there.

Michael said...

Love this blog. I am only on day 4 of not smoking. It is 315am and I cannot sleep. I stumbled upon this blog because I had always heard there were no withdrawal effects from pot yet I have been experiencing all the symptoms described. Most notably are the night sweats. They are pretty bad. I found comfort n the fact that these symptoms are normal. I depended on weed for my appetite. I depended on weed for sleep. Those are the worst withdrawal effects in my opinion as I am an avid weight lifter and lack of sleep/food leads to horrible workouts/loss of size and strength. Lack of sleep also leads to not being able to perform as well at work. I haven't experienced irritability as of yet but I'm waiting. The reasons I quit were a)I haven't been getting laid lately because of b)I have become agoraphobic. I don't put myself in social situations as I would rather be lying at home smoking my bong. I am a recent college graduate and need to find a job which will most likely drug test. I have no motivation to get out of the house either to go look for jobs. It's always "oh I'll do that tomorrow or I'll do that next week". It never happens. Weed is slowly ruining my life as my life has become and will remain stagnant until getting high stops crossing my mind. Hearing people describe the same problems as me will do nothing but make this easier. I feel as though I am in a support group.

Anonymous said...

So here I am!!! I am a 25 year old female who's absolute intolerance and disgust towards marijuana and tokers alike turned into a full-blown addiction in what seems like a blink of an eye! I went through college without smoking and then one night with a close girlfriend who I didn't know smoked (she was a great student and clean-cut..not what i had come to believe a "stoner" was)I decided...what do i have to lose? So I lit up and fell in love! Now it's been almost 6 years and I've smoked daily with plenty of justifications for doing so!! I've tried quitting atleast 4 times now...but always miss it and justify starting again. This time has to be it for me though!! The main issue for me is the sweating!! It's just DISGUSTING!! I'm on day 3 now and have been waking up mulitple times per night just SOAKED..my husband has been leaving our bed! I showered twice during the night last night and only slept 5 hours on and off!! Has any one found anything that helps with this crazy sweating?? I've not noticed a ton of irritability, but I have ZERO appetite and am coughing up the most nasty crud ever!! I know if I don't quit now it'll be even more difficult later, so I'm going to stay strong...and sweaty, I guess!

Dirk Hanson said...

The sweats are really a bother for many people, and obviously a problem for any bed partners. Some folks resort to changing the sheets in the middle of the night. I don't know of a cure or a short cut. It eventually normalizes, has something to do with the brain's internal cannabis system being involved in temperature regulation, which gets screwed up when you smoke heavily for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Europe
I went cold turkey two weeks ago,i've been smoking and vaporising 6 plants of Chronic for about 5 months.
The first week was a journey to hell, anxiety moody aggressiveness loss of appetite,sick just think about drink a glass water,shivers,extreme cold and hot in just a few minutes,dry nose and lips,weakness,but the most annoying was/is the night sweat ,i had/have to change my self and dry my hair 2 time a night.
The 2 week, most of the symptoms where reduced (except sweat)but since 3 days i feel always exhaust and no energy at all, i can eat vegi and drink juice,sometimes meat.Tomorrow i'll start the 3 week.
I take it with fun cause it's the first time i live this experience,..we will not dye and we know why we are in such mess,soon or later all will be good again.
There must be a reason why from the new year in holland no more coffeshop for tourist and the probability that skunk (over 15 % Thc) will be reclassified and moved into the category with drugs such heroin and cocaine.
I am still pro legalisation but with a more explicative infos about the danger of such shit,more research on this plant would be great cause we still don't know all about this plant.I remember that i smoked a few leaf just after 16 days of grow,obviously Thc wasn't present but my eyes was red ,i got appetite and slept like a log while feel just a little alterate.We all point on Thc but forget that it's one of the 85 cannabinoids that are present in the plant so ,more research would be nice.

Dirk Hanson said...

You're quite right to point out that there are dozens of psychoactive compounds in marijuana besides THC, and the state of the research on pot is very primitive compared to almost every other psychoactive drug. The irony of course is that weed is the world's most popular psychoactive drug, and we know the least about it.

Anonymous said...

Hello it's me again, 25 y.o.f. that posted above! Today marks one week since quitting the habit and I'm pleased to say I haven't wanted to cheat at all! Yesterday was the first day I was able to eat anything more than a bite I'd force myself to choke down, but I do know my appetite is slowly returning. I also notice that the crazy sweaty/chill spells are happening less frequently during the daytime, yet still returns with fury at night. We actually purchased an airmattress to sleep on while I "detox" because we were honestly concerned about ruining our brand new memory foam mattress with my sweating :( Thankfully my husband is unbelievably supportive and understanding of everything, including the tears! Within the last few days I've become Hyper-Emotional, crying over the tiniest things like tv commmercials?! My focus now is to try to acknowledge the emotion from the start and know that it's something I can control! I'm feeling stronger than I have in a long time and I think a lot of that is coming from proving to myself that I can do this thing!!! It's me vs my habbit and I've got a long way to go, that I'm sure of, but I'm definitely winning!!! Good luck to you in Europe and anyone else out there!! Also, BIG THANKS to you, Dirk, for this blog! Just writing seems to be therapy for me and looking foward to updating my progress makes me want to beat this even more!!!

Dirk Hanson said...

That hyperemotionality can make the world look so hopeless and sad, I know. And the endless attack of major and minor irritations seems unremitting. And to top it all off, when you go to bed at night and toss and turn, you sweat through the sheets. This is withdrawal, it's very real, but few people understand what people who are on the right chemical wavelength with marijuana go through when they quit. So be thankful for a supportive OTHER above all.

Anonymous said...

Hi all... Good reads here. I'll keep it short. I'm 41 been smoking on and off for 20years. Considerably more on then off. I get all the symptoms here but I didn't know the sweats were related to quitting, that's good to know and for me, they stop after a few weeks. I'm 5 weeks clean at this point with two instances of minor set backs (one third of a joint on each occasion ). Funny, I would smoke 6 joints a night no problem but after a few weeks now, those thirds of a joint hit me like a truck!

I don't get cravings for joints,that's my one saving grace. I have cravings for something, but it's like my head hasn't worked out that it's those joints.

My question is this... Is there a happy ending to this? My memory is shot, my attention span is minuscule, I'm far more aggressive then I have been before, I'm irritable, anxious narky and bored. If I stick this out to 6 months, is it still going to be like this?

Dirk Hanson said...

"My memory is shot, my attention span is minuscule, I'm far more aggressive then I have been before, I'm irritable, anxious narky and bored. If I stick this out to 6 months, is it still going to be like this?"

So you quit, and you're not feeling so hot.If the subject was alcohol or cigarettes, or heroin, you know what the answer would be. Nobody's going to say, "oh, your attention span is shot and you're feeling irritable? Gee, might as well go back to smoking cigarettes, drinking whiskey, or shooting smack."

Anonymous said...

To be fair, I didn't ask that question. Where did i say "should go back to smoking?"
I'm not going back, I'm asking what is in the future.

Dirk Hanson said...

Sorry, I was riffing on the common lament: "I felt great on (substance X) and now without it I feel like shit." Obvious answer, go back to taking substance X. And a lot of the time, that's what people are angling for, really--somebody to say, well, you should just go back to smoking, all your problems will be solved.

But to your specific question, which I still haven't answered. ;) Most of the worst, for most tokers, is over in a few weeks. For some, effects linger for months. If you're free of serious cravings, then that should help immensely. If you stick it out for 6 months, it will NOT be like it is today. Hooray for brain plasticity. Heaving regular smoking changed your brain, and daily abstinence will change it, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I appreciate your candour too :)

I've been clean for 6 weeks now but contracted a nasty flu dose over xmas. I cant tell which is making me feel nasty.

I can imagine that people DO say "I felt better on it" but that's short sighted imho. I'm giving up for general health and anti-cancer reasons and cancer would feel worse then this :) (I smoked tobacco joints)

In my case, only recently (the past 2 weeks) have I been having vivid dreams and some scary ones too. Just makes me more determined to get off and stay off.

Thanks, its good to know that it gets better. We'll see in 6 months.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this blog, I never thought there was any help or support out there for this and everyone says it is not addictive (as did I for many years) which is probably what stopped me from quitting for so long even though I wanted to.

First of all to all those deniers of weed addiction who say this is propaganda, maybe you are not addicted but then not all drinkers are alcoholics. But if you are someone who smokes all day and convinces yourself you are fine (as I did) then you might want to consider if you would think you didn't have a drinking problem if you were having your first beer after breakfast. I managed to convince myself i could take it or leave it at the same time as i was crawling around searching my carpet or pulling part my sofa for any stray crumbs. Or ringing my dealer in desperation every two minutes - and he would say "you potheads are the worst" - that more than many types of "recreational" drug users we would be the ones climbing the walls when we couldn't get it. I was very high functioning though and have managed to carve out a successful career, though I always felt like I was a fraud about to be discovered and maybe I would be even more successful without it, certainly socially and relationship wise it has affected me greatly. Having said that I don't necessarily think legalisation is a bad idea, in fact maybe it would mean there would be more recognition and help for this problem.

I am now 10 days into my abstinence after smoking pretty much every day for 15 years (I am a 30 year old female) In the last few years, I have been working from home, weed would be my first waking thought most days and if I got to midday without smoking I thought I was doing well. I am experiencing all the symptoms every one is talking about (not because of the power of suggestion) , I was having all these before and thought I had some terrible disease, now I realise this is normal at least I am a bit less worried. The night sweats have abated a bit now in the last few days but the headaches and flu-like feeling is worse, the depression is really kicking in and my mood swings are ridiculous, I am crying all the time. Luckily I have supportive friends who don't mind me ringing them up half-hysterical. I am also worried that I may have been self medicating for years (I suffered severe depression in my late teens) and that now my real underlying depression is coming out. Also long-standing issues that I guess I have always masked by having a joint as soon as I felt a bit down. My concentration is also shot and this is what I am probably most worried about as I am a writer and at the moment I have zero creativity (which weed seemed to give me sometimes).

Sorry for this long post but it is therapeutic for me and hopefully useful for others.

One thing I would like to ask - now that I have a bit of a clearer head I am starting to have awful realisations about how my problem has affected my relationships particularly with my family over the years, making me argumentative and aggressive when I couldn't smoke. Or creating bad situations for myself so I could justify having a smoke. I keep flashing back to a particularly horrific argument with my parents because they wanted to visit me on my day off and of course I didn't want them to as I wanted to smoke, I screamed at them like a mad person. Do you think that it can help pot addicts to make amends in the same way that they tell other addicts to?

Thanks, and good luck to all of you going through this. The upside of this horrible withdrawal is it is a wake up call for all of us as to the extent of our problems, which will hopefully stop us from sliding back to the old ways.

Dirk Hanson said...

"Do you think that it can help pot addicts to make amends in the same way that they tell other addicts to?"

I can't see how genuinely saying you're sorry can ever be a really bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Hi to anyone who is still active on this thread. I'm a 21 year old male who has experienced described. I would just like to add that yes, it is an uphill-downhill battle, but the severity of your symptoms will ease significantly as time goes by. For the insomniacs, I find it much easier to get some sleep during the day.

Anonymous said...

Hi to anyone who is still active on this thread. I'm a 21 year old male who has experienced everything described above, panic and anxiety in particular (pot exacerbated my social anxiety). Anyway, most of you were heavier smokers than me, so naturally your recovery will be longer. That said, the severity of your symptoms will decline sooner than you think. And don't fall prey to the 'once-off' mentality either; as an addict you have to expect nothing but a downward spiral. Complete abstinence is key.

Dirk Hanson said...

Yeah, sleep problems still rank pretty high on the list for most people. If you can't get your straight 8, then you gotta improvise, true.

Anonymous said...

Well Hello again! After more than half of a year of being completely sober..I find myself back here again, re-reading and re-living the things I posted in December of last year. I wonder when I will realize that I am not capable of casually smoking like most of the people I know are. :/

Anonymous said...

Very good all that ive been reading has been very much true i stopped smoking weed 15 days ago nand beleive me it wasn't easy as i still feel the symptoms of my body trying to re adjust itself to its natural old self. for the first few days i had sleepness nights the sweats n a few panick attacks followed by anxiety n restlessness physical tension also come do to the withdrawal process one thing to combat it is exercise take walks keep your mind of things n be positive you might feel that there is something wrong but on reality is just your mind and body fighting the toxins out the system drink plenty of water eat rigth i just cant wait till all this is over and im fully back to my old self..

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