Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Marijuana Withdrawal

For Some Users, Cannabis Can Be Fiercely Addictive.

(Note: more than 1200 comments below)

See Also:
Is Marijuana Addictive? (>143 posts)
Marijuana Withdrawal Revisited. (>108posts).
Feds Fund Study of Marijuana Withdrawal.
(>39 posts)

For a minority of marijuana users, commonly estimated at 10 per cent, the use of pot can become uncontrollable, as with any other addictive drug. Addiction to marijuana is frequently submerged in the welter of polyaddictions common to active addicts. The withdrawal rigors of, say, alcohol or heroin tend to drown out the subtler, more psychological manifestations of cannabis withdrawal.

What has emerged in the past ten years is a profile of marijuana withdrawal, where none existed before. The syndrome is marked by irritability, restlessness, generalized anxiety, hostility, depression, difficulty sleeping, excessive sweating, loose stools, loss of appetite, and a general “blah” feeling. Many patients complain of feeling like they have a low-grade flu, and they describe a psychological state of existential uncertainty—“inner unrest,” as one researcher calls it.

The most common marijuana withdrawal symptom is low-grade anxiety. Anxiety of this sort has a firm biochemical substrate, produced by withdrawal, craving, and detoxification from almost all drugs of abuse. It is not the kind of anxiety that can be deflected by forcibly thinking “happy thoughts,” or staying busy all the time.

A peptide known as corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is linked to this kind of anxiety. Neurologists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, noting that anxiety is the universal keynote symptom of drug and alcohol withdrawal, started looking at the release of CRF in the amygdala. After documenting elevated CRF levels in rat brains during alcohol, heroin, and cocaine withdrawal, the researchers injected synthetic THC into 50 rats once a day for two weeks. (For better or worse, this is how many of the animal models simulate heavy, long-term pot use in humans). Then they gave the rats a THC agonist that bound to the THC receptors without activating them. The result: The rats exhibited withdrawal symptoms such as compulsive grooming and teeth chattering—the kinds of stress behaviors rats engage in when they are kicking the habit. In the end, when the scientists measured CRF levels in the amygdalas of the animals, they found three times as much CRF, compared to animal control groups.

While subtler and more drawn out, the process of kicking marijuana can now be demonstrated as a neurochemical fact. It appears that marijuana increases dopamine and serotonin levels through the intermediary activation of opiate and GABA receptors. Drugs like naloxone, which block heroin, might have a role to play in marijuana detoxification.

As Dr. DeChiara of the Italian research team suggested in Science, “this overlap in the effects of THC and opiates on the reward pathway may provide a biological basis for the controversial ‘gateway hypothesis,’ in which smoking marijuana is thought to cause some people to abuse harder drugs.” America's second favorite drug, De Chiara suggests, may prime the brain to seek substances like heroin. In rebuttal, marijuana experts Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar of Harvard Medical school have protested this resumed interest in the gateway theory, pointing out that if substances that boost dopamine in the reward pathways are gateways to heroin use, than we had better add chocolate, sex, and alcohol to the list.

In the end, what surprised many observers was simply that the idea of treatment for marijuana dependence seemed to appeal to such a large number of people. The Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto has reported that even brief interventions, in the form of support group sessions, can be useful for addicted pot smokers.

In 2005, an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry concluded that, for patients recently out of rehab, “Postdischarge cannabis use substantially and significantly increased the hazard of first use of any substance and strongly reduced the likelihood of stable remission from use of any substance.”

A selected bibliography of science journal references can be found HERE.

See also:
Marijuana Withdrawal Rivals Nicotine
Marijuana Withdrawal Revisited
Feds Fund Study of Marijuana Withdrawal




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Dirk Hanson said...


No problem, didn't mean to sound abrupt or anything, I have been sort of looking for a chance to declare my "no comment" status on pot personally. I thought about this back when I published "The Chemical Carousel." It's a legitimate question. Suffice to say, I decided to go public with the "public" drugs I was addicted to: alcohol and cigarettes. As for the illegal drugs, well, they're illegal, aren't they? I gotta right to take the 5th.... ;-)

howie said...

Your a funnyman,Dirk,Howie

howieee said...

Its howie from texas(boy us texans are full of it,like you care whereim from)anyways
got some new stuff.You notice that most of these post are a mile long written at 3in the morning but thats how we roll(my wifes gonna killme if i keep saying that but the man is such a ass hole)0, he should of smooked pot instead of texting) Im leaving my spelling mistakes cuz my friends think their funny thas how i roll ( sorry,luv but i cant help it)anyways, found that when people look at youlike your a complete idot when looking for phone and its next to your ear that i tell them that im going throgh the PTWs,they say i thought you got that way when you smoked pot little do they know.anyways,rolling along (cant help it) that saying that God helps those who helpis them self are tue im a cabinetemaker and things are alittle slow down here in the swamps(houston), The other day iwas eating in my favorie bbq telling the owner abouy the evil PTWand he said great now you can come look at my greek restruant to give me a bid on a barthat you promise 6mons ago and i went huh as we were buzzyover there to look at the bar got a call from a old realtoer friend shae said i hear your PTWing and iz whant you to manage my 45 properties(used to be a superintent but with my excessive talking (potted out) i was more tired then when i was when banging nails. excuse me but went looking for amy lighter that in my pocket,well calls these bfs (brain farts) anyways kiddos everything thing coming coming my way(westside story) last time i quick (rememerber when the houston pd asked me to) went to a shrink to get my trazadone and when i call his secitary to get my refrills she put me on hold(her names maria)and i was singing "Maria maria i hope i get my pillscuz i feel like shit Maria" well gottogo im down at the rv park (our little hideway,boy theres some weird people downhere, like im not buys iz apothead theirs come natural)ad the sqeekers are eating me up I have micigan accent (parents) but when i crooss the brazos river i move all litle slowier with my hick accent ( raise in san antonio icall it m&m military and mexicans.) my redneck oiltrash neigerbor just left give me a dirty look like what the f hes never seen me before cuz i used to sleep out cuz gueenys sleeping a nd shell wake up and say oh no hes on the computer. My advice tonite or morning should say Dont till a redneck you got the PTWs.... Till later kiddos reffer how here my friends think i should write abook without the spell ck. aliitle hunter thompson meets kinky friendman whtsa you think.Bye and just think of the $ your saving and when its all over with throw a big party with it for allyour friends who didnt kill you

Brad said...

6 months clean today. It's nice to wake up in the morning and not feel burnt out from the night before. I'm enjoying living in the here and now with a clear head. I continue to exercise 6 days a week which helps a lot. I don't try to fool myself into thinking I'll never smoke again, although that is the ultimate goal. I still have cravings from time to time. They are much better now than they were in the first 30 days. I watch for my triggers, that is things in life that would cause me to want to smoke and I deal with them differently. I might take a walk or bike ride instead of smoking, or play a cd of the ocean waves or call a friend. I've quit before and realize I'm a flawed human being who wants to deal with life by smoking weed so I just take it one day at a time and commit to not smoking just for today.

Dirk Hanson said...


That's a whole bunch of good advice in one place. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dirk Hanson and fellow smokers trying to quit. I found L theanine to be the greatest help.I took 200mg 3x a day. When anxiety eventually gets worse I have read people using 400mg 3x a day works for them. I am on week 3 of quitting. I have been smoking daily since i was 16 I am now 26. I am able to get by with L-theanine and I can now function but I am afraid this could last more than a few months. Dirk , I wanted to ask you if the body will eventually balance out after long term abuse (based off of comments)? I have read many posts and none so far show a accurate timeline past 1 month. From reading our stories is there any posts that talk about 60+ days after smoking? If so any chance on posting the date of the post so we know this withdrawal feeling will eventually go away? I can't thank you enough for this blog! I was completely lost and had no idea what was wrong with me. I had no clue pot abuse could cause such bad withdraws. Glad I googled weed withdrawals before walking into a psych ward :P L THEANINE IS AMAZING! No side effects and completely natural if fixed 90% of my symptoms. Thank you Dirk for any information about average timelines for withdrawal symptoms.

Dirk Hanson said...

There's no set pattern after 1 month of withdrawal, just as there is no "average" heavy smoker. Some people are pretty much symptom-free after a month; others have cravings and sleep problems and some depression/anxiety flaring up for several months afterwards.

mee said...

Thank you for the information Dirk! You have no idea how grateful I am for the information provided on your page. TRULY INSPIRATIONAL! I at least know what is causing these symptoms after quitting and how to deal with them. I can do 1-7 months knowing it will end. What a eye opener! Thank you again for your time!

Vincent Mastriona said...

Of course it is psychological addiction. Weed makes you happy hungry sleepy. People withdrawal from caffeine and nicotine all the time they just don't whine about it. Go to methadone clinic and just look around and you will find out what withdrawal and addiction really is. I am also a long time heavy smoker and stop pot for months with no problems whatsoever. If you chew gum everyday that first day without gum will probably suck. You can create your own addictions with anything. If your gonna tell people weed is addictive include that it is about as addictive as girl scout cookies. I know I'm sad when I run out.

Dirk Hanson said...

At the risk of repeating myself endlessly, the comments above reflect the prevailing metabolic chauvinism in the addiction research field: the idea that MY metabolism, and the effect drugs have on me, is exactly the same as YOUR metabolism. Ergo, all drugs effect all people in the same way. This is demonstrably false, so your experience with marijuana carries no predictive weight when it comes to somebody else's experience with marijuana.

Suzy said...

I'm not trying to cause controversy or anything like that, however I wonder about Cannabis. I'm on pain medication and if I don't take it within 24-36 hours, I get symptoms of withdrawal which are no fun!

I've been heavily smoking marijuana for at least 30 years. I knew I was going to Disney World with my husband (he doesn't smoke) and he reminded me a few times I couldn't bring pot on a plane.

Anyway, I went to Disney World for 10 days without any marijuana at all. Not one withdrawal reaction.. Why is that??????????

Dirk Hanson said...

Maybe 10-15% of pot smokers suffer significant withdrawal effects. So count yourself lucky.

probable cosby said...

Thanks for this, I was feeling incredibly discouraged and pathetic after reading forum after forum of smokers reminding each other "you can't possibly get addicted to weed, it is all in your head" when anyone tried to share their experiences with how much quitting sucks. Because this does really suck. I am only on day two. Worst feeling in the world is facing the fact I used weed to cover up my anxieties and childhood traumas for seven years, and now here I am seven years later with the same problems, because I killed all the associated feelings and never solved the damn problem. Sitting around feeling like seven years of snow melted all at once and now I can see all the dogshit and dead possums.

I wish other smokers would realize that if someone says they feel like shit, they are probably not lying. Think about the knee jerk defensive feeling you get when you see someone trying to quit, or asking for info on withdrawal. That defensive feeling I got was what smacked me upside the back of the head and made me analyze my life.

I know this will get better but at the moment, at 5 am on day two, it seems like the anxiety will never end. I keep telling myself that the weed wouldn't really fix my anxiety anyway, just numb me for a few hours and then we would be right back where we started.

Anonymous said...

Please help me, I have a housemate who is currently unemployed and has been a longterm user who in the last 10 days has attempted to get clean. Two days ago he got back on it and I don't condemn or judge him for this. I am struggling with him making me feel like a stranger in my own home, he appears resentful towards me and all conversation etc has ceased. I am only observing his withdrawal, am non verbally supporting him and have had nothing to do with his decision. I am finding that I am sinking into a state of depression (I am not a user) due to his hostility and need an Australian support service to help me through this. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
Let me say that I have not missed a single story on this blog and I'm so glad to see how sincere and honest everyone seem to be on here.

I came here because I am positive that I may be dealing with someone who is addicted to weed. This someone is my boyfriend of over 1 year and I care deeply about him. I want to help.

I have known him for 10 years and have also known of his weed usage. He is 26 years old, started smoking when he was 14, and smokes just about 3-5x a day if not more. He usually smokes before and as soon as he gets home from work or all day when he is not working. In addition, he is also an active cigarette smoker. He also has a history of using spice while also smoking weed before and during the first few months that we had dated. The effects of it were so much worse than weed. Unlike weed, spice put him in a trance or daze like and sometimes he almost looked catatonic to me. He couldn't function! Anyway, he finally quit smoking spice last may and has not touched it since. I did not notice any withdrawal symptoms from it. Was it because he was also smoking weed??

Fast forward, he got a DUI in January and was put on probation. His trial was last Wednesday and it was ruled out that he is to be under supervised probation for 18moths.

I had noticed that while he was smoking weed he was very social, happier, loving, sweet, affectionate, he did and said things that really touched your heart, and most of all he was comfortable, relaxed and connected to everything and everyone around. I never thought him smoking weed was an issue because it actually helped him function. He's always called it "relaxation time" Then I started noticing this major change in all started 2 weeks prior to his court date. We used to text each other throughout the day and talk to each other on the phone for hours, and even saw each other most days of the week. We had really great chemistry and he was always happy to talk to me and see me. Now I barely hear from him. It will be 3-4 days that I'll hear from him. Also, since then he's picked up on drinking. Things we used to enjoy doing together seem boring to him. Before he would be all over me, touchy-feely and very affectionate. Now he just sits there and keeps his hands to himself or he just seems distracted all the time. He is so distant and withdrawn. I can't help but take it personally that maybe it is because of me. He is no longer interested, he's found someone else, or he wants to break up with me since he only wants to be with his friends. I did notice though on Mother's Day when I saw him that he was back to his old self. But I also noticed he smoked weed. It hurt so much that he can't come to me. I want to be able to help him and go the extra lengths to support him and stand by his side throughout all this..but I can't when he doesn't want to talk me. I feel down and depressed. I feel like the man I dated is no longer there. It made me think, was it all fake? Was it all a lie? Why take his damn time (1year) to finally make it official with me and make sure he is ready to commit to me only to act this way! I am hurt and confused and depressed to be left in the dark.

I care so much about this man. For all I know, I probably am in love with him and all I want is for him to know that I am here and that I will support him. What can I do? Is It apparent that it is me? Should I walk away? I am going insane by the day that I don't hear from him. I don't want to give up on him yet. Please help me!

Hurt and Concerned Girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Dirk thank you for this article and page, it has been most informative. I have been a heavy smoker for 2 years now. Smoking around 10 fat zoots per day amongst 1 or 2 friends and myself. Thanx to geographics i have to stop every 4 months for a period of 2 months or so. I am currently on the 5th day of being sober after 4 months of waking and baking and continueing till late at night. My first experience was extremely intense anxiety and a fluttering feeling on my chest as well as a general unease which i can't exactly put my finger on. I find that by hitting the gym to my maximum capacity helped me greatly with the appetite issues as well as insomnia. Also taking a good pro biotic regularly has helped ease my stomach unrest significantly so i would highly recommend this for anyone experiencing similar problems. For now though i find that my head is still somewhat dizzy and whilst i am usually an over naturally cheerful person i can not seem to find a moment of clarity or "natural" happiness. My entire day has a negative aspect to it which is hard to explain because life is pretty good (iv passed all my exams in uni, my body is adapting well to gym etc). Will this sense of general unease fade? I won't have access to bud for the next 3 months and I'm hoping that this will be a solid platform for me to start a fresh. Maybe enjoying a session on weekends laughing my ass of uncontrollably instead of this habitual shit which just see's you end up living life in a constant daze and not fully appreciating life (not remembering more like). Many than! Good luck to all!

Dirk Hanson said...

That sense of "general unease which i can't exactly put my finger on," so common when people abstain, will diminish with time, yes. Anxiety and negativity are part of withdrawal from any addictive drug.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article on Marijuana Withdrawal, shared on my Complex PTSD blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm 33 and I've been smoking since I was 16/17 I.m off it nearly weeks now. Its been tough. Anxiety/Panic attacks are the hardest, I have no energy and my hormone systems all over the place.

Had my bloods done a few times with my GP to make sure every thing was ok and it turns out I have hypothyroidism to boot(unrelated, Its very treatable so thats ok). I feel like I'm making progress.

Had no Idea it could have been this bad. Started sweating heavily and feeling faint with cramps in my arm pits and tingling sensation in my hands. Had no clue that it could have been this bad. I have a high pain threshold and lead an active life style. I guess with weed being 10 times stronger or so than it was in years gone by, withdrawal is now a reality for some.

I honestly didn't connect the dots. I was already nearly two weeks off it before, through a process of elimination with my GP, I realized my symptoms are anxiety due to withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog just in time. So my story is, I'm a very high achieving professional but a daily smoker for 25+ years. Nobody except my wife, a couple friends and maybe my college-age daughter (who figured it out) know. I read an article recently that marijuana smokers have a hard time finding joy without being high so I thought, hey, let me test this out, I want to have real joy not stoned joy. I have a lot to be joyous about. So I ran out of bud, and didn't get any more and for two weeks I just quit thinking about it. I did have the vivid dreams, thought they were cool. The insomnia was light at first but now at the end of week two it is getting bad. Twice this week I bolted -- told my wife I had to go to work because I'm under so much stress the only thing I can do is go to work and at least hit my deadlines. Then I started telling her, maybe we should get divorced and I'm no good to you, etc. Crazy talk. Today at work it was work five minutes, close my eyes and meditate fifteen minutes, open my eyes and try to work some more. I literally laid down on the floor. I was saying to myself "You are having a psychotic episode, what is happening, maybe you need to check yourself into a psych ward" it was that bad. Then I got the idea -- let me Google marijuana withdrawal, and here are all these comments, thousands, and they mostly describe some version of what I'm feeling this very day. I'm not going crazy!!! It's just the withdrawal symptoms. In life I'm a very solid person, I give help, I don't get it. Today I needed help and this blog was a real miracle. I'm literally crying tears of relief as I write this -- and I'm not a crier or whiner. For the people who post that there is no such thing as withdrawal and the other posters need to suck it up -- this many comments constitute a scientifically representative sample. The fact that so many of them cite the same symptoms is an example of rhyzomatic medical research, another great benefit of online communities. Single examples like mine are anecdotes, not evidence, but I can out-run, out-lift, out-work, out-earn better than all but maybe 5% of the general population. That's not boasting, it's just to say these withdrawal symptoms do not affect only the less fortunate (and I'm truly sympathetic for those post-ers who are dealing with other, serious issues). Wow. That was a long post. Thanks for this blog. Dirk Hanson, it has been healing. I'm going to find a way to thank you in a concrete way. Also, this has been like burning my hand on a hot stove. I'm getting through this and am not going back. Like many commenters, buds were my buds, my friends, I loved my twice-daily tokes (early morning before lifting or jogging and late-evening after a long day at work) but if this is what it does to me when I turn away, not such a good thing after all.

Dirk Hanson said...

I'm very glad you found your way to this blog. That shock of recognition only serves to point up how our society is not really ready to own up to this one. Nobody wants to hear that marijuana smoking can lead to time spent on the floor in the fetal position, moaning like a junkie. But it does happen. I like your comments on rhyzomatic medical research in online communities. I agree that this humble little data base right here speaks volumes about the consistency and prevalence of these symptoms.

Just another guy said...

Ok, I think it's my time to contribute to this topic. :)
Before I get to my experience, I wish to say that this is by far the most comprehensive source of experiences of marijuana withdrawal and related stuff that I've ever seen. It's so big and consistent that it must be scientifically relevant in some way. If nothing else, it confirms already established views on marijuana withdrawal and what is most important, since many people have contributed, it shows diversity of symptoms, or lack thereof, and dispells naive conceptions about marijuana withdrawal, such as "not being mentally strong enough" to overcome it and all other simplistic ways of (mis)understandings the problem. It also very personally offending to be considered mentally weak by someone, or in some other way not strong or deficient, when the person in withdrawal clearly knows that it's really not "mental". It's very real and physical most of the time. You get impression that you are imagining things and in some kind of delusions which only makes things harder to bear.

I know these things because I myself have tried to get off weed many times, and never have succeed, or not at least more than a day (if weed was available). I'm 22 and have been smoking since 15 I think. I had many introspective moments and that's what I like it for besides just having fun, but the problem is that for me everything went just downwards by consuming more and more (or more and more often) of it until I couldn't feel almost anything anymore. Yes, TOLERANCE. You know things are not good when you wake up, roll a big joint, smoke it in 10 minutes and than not feel anything substantial. Like, I would be high for perhaps half an hour, and then nothing. Like I was consuming air instead of weed. And not just that I wasn't getting any high, my life was also getting more and more f**cked up. Weed was draining my energy more and more. I had intentions to do things, but nothing could be done because everything would be so hard to do. Like you are always tired. Also I screwed up social relationships and many other things which left me with almost no life to life.
Now I'm finally willing to let go of all this because things have gotten so bad on weed that normal life feels like it's some kind of "natural high". I havent smoked in 4 days. Yes, seems funny, only 4 days, but I'm feeling like a new man, like some kind of mental blanket is lifted from my mind. be continued ... ;)

Just another guy said...


I want to share my "weed profile" for support to other people and scientific purposes.

- smoker for 7 years (from age 15)
- had one break for 3-4 months because of legal problems
- on average smoked perhaps 2-3 grams/week (not a lot but i tended to smoke smaller quantities more often - enoguh to always be in a kind of daze and confusion)
- had a bit of problems with general anxiety
- can't go one evening without smoking (not smoking during the day was often possible without probems)

When I stopped smoking, 4 days ago, this is how it went:
1st day - feeling ok, not really wanting weed (but probably I was still in a kind of after-stoned state from day before); mind was very "foggy". had difficulty sleeping (it took me 4 hours to finally fall asleep), overactive mind when needing to sleep.

2nd day - mind is clearing up, but craving sets in. like feels stupid without
smoking. feeling restless, but happier because i wasn't in a constant mental fog. easier falling asleep. vivid and strange dreams

3rd day - much clearer mind, a little bit of craving. feeling very happy because of new sense of life unobstructed by weed, like i was gaining strenght. now this is weird: unberable desire to sleep, absoulte impossiblity in not sleeping enough. like i'm catching up for all sleep that was lost. feelings of tiredness set in. i really do believe this is some kind of making up for energy that was lost because of too much weed. feelings of peace and happines

4th day - well i felt really good. there was craving but a desire for a happy clean energetic life is stronger.

So to concluce, THE BASIC PROBLEM WITH WEED IS THAT IT IS AVAILABLE TOO EASILY, in my opinion. What I was doing wrong is that I would try to get off weed but would have it around me somewhere and i would relapse. But when I set it up to have no weed around and couldn't buy it, everything was easier. My mind accepted that there is no way of getting it and it settled. Now it seems funny for me that it was all rather painless process. Like after 4 days i lost desire to smoke. But what was the hardest is to arrange for it to happen. Habit is a curse on you.

I'm deeply sorry for people who go into bad withdrawals. I don't doubt it is so. I felt that urge to smoke and it is not "mental". But in my case it subsided rather quickly. And i also had happines as a byproduct which is also weird for me, but not acutally strange if you consider that body doesn't like being drained of energy, which weed does, and mind doesn't like being in a fog.

I don't want to stop smoking weed forever. I just want to establish balance. I now that I've found benfits of clear minded life, I have the motive to do so. I want to take the best of both. (I'll inform you whether I've succeeded or not ;) )

Wish you all peace.

Dirk Hanson said...

You can see why some of us are a bit nervous about legalization efforts, given the absence of widespread information about marijuana addiction and withdrawal. You note something important:

"Yes, TOLERANCE. You know things are not good when you wake up, roll a big joint, smoke it in 10 minutes and than not feel anything substantial."

Most smokers will never have that experience, and won't believe you when you tell them about it. We still have a long ways to go on this.

Just another guy said...

Thanks for answering, I like seeing that you really care about this.

Well I happen to have some friends that are not only weed-buddies or whatever. Back in high school we were all pretty heavy users by all definitons. I was also dealing weed and had loads of it (better if I didn't).
Now we are all considering not smoking because it has lost it's purpose. We know that stoned feeling too much and it is not what it used to be. Now it happens too often that we get stoned and just sit there like plants for hours and don't do anything, or are in some kind of narcotic daze which resembles being on dope.

Yesterday I told to two of my friends (which do smoke) I'm going off weed for some time and they absolutely approved of it. They even confessed me that they should probably do the same thing. We talked about the whole weed thing very long into the night and the conclusion was obvious - we acted like junkies, life was going downwards, ... you know it already.

It is sad for me that it had to be this way, but it is all consequence of my (or our) doing. Good thing is that it will also come to pass and perhaps I will start to enjoy weed again. ( Now at least feel happy being normal, which is not a privilege for the many. ) But it has to happen naturally, I won't force anything because forcing weed on my organism lead to all this hell. And the biggest problem is that you justify that hell because it seems that there is no other option. But that also is a perception of an organism worn off by too much smoking. You really have to bear with the boredom and bad things at least a little while to see that the organisam will recuperate and that everything is bad because you've been a too much of a smoker, not because life just is boring.

I could perhaps be accused of being to easy going and positive because for me it all went with no problems although I was a long-term smoker. For me it was the habit which kept me trapped, not physical symptoms of not smoking (at least not to a level at which I would feel real necessity to smoke again).

And get rid of those weed-friends! I tried to quit a month ago and then happened to visit my weed-friend. I relapsed in 10 minutes and after that we smoke 7 joints or so. Terrible. For some reason, human beings just can't resist their addiction in such a situation. Only way is around it, not with your head through the wall.

I have tried to quit many times and there were always 2 possible causes for my relapse:
- weed being to easy to get
- weed-buddies around me which themselves have weed

Well my story happened to be quite long. I don't wish to overtake this topic but I have a strong need to say these things anyway. And if I notice correctly, nobody commented in a while so my long posts are not that bad. :)

Best wishes to all. Dirk, keep up the good work!
(Since this has obviously happened to be quite popular in expressing personal views and experiences, I propose you open some other topics where people could also contribute, for their relief and also contribution to knowledge of the subject.)

Just another guy said...

Same topic going on here:

Drugs Forum "Let us go deeper into the marijuana withdrawal claim"

Very informative. Not many new things to hear, but confirms already established facts/experiences.

Dirk Hanson said...

Yes, thanks, I should have mentioned the longstanding thread on marijuana withdrawal over at Drugs Forum.

dh098017 said...

I am a 32 year old male as of yesterday. Never really smoked much before 18months ago but quickly fell in love and became a daily smoker within a couple months of getting back into it. Flash forward to Oct 6th 2014 and (same old story i know), I had a MASSIVE panic attack while smoking. Called 911 cuz I thought I was dying, took an ambulance ride to the hospital, chest xray, thyroid bloodwork labs and head ct scan all 100% normal. I have no history of past anxiety and had never had an anxiety attack prior to that first one.

The episode scared me enough to quit for a few days, when i tried a small hit a few days later i immediately felt the anxiety come back so I stopped and went to sleep. Over the next week or two I tried to smoke/edible two other times with the same result (one of them ending up with me back in ER where I once again had a clear chest xray and blood work). I now have zero desire to ever go back to using, but my withdrawal is awful.

So I am 9 weeks out from daily use (but probably only 6 weeks out from my last attempt), my symptoms were the standard DPDR, Anxiety, Depression, Head Fog, Irritability, Anger, Sweats, Dreams, High BP, Lack of Appetite, Diarhea, Insomnia, Lethargy, Racing Heart/Palps etc.....For the most part all of the symptoms are gone, and for a while I thought I was out of the woods, but this nagging anxiety just wont quit me. I am doing my best to manage it with exercise, herbal teas, fish oil etc....but not having much luck. The main source of the anxiety is trigger by the following:

I seem to get these flashes of numbness in my chest for a second or two that immediately send me into a raging panic out of nowhere, the feelings are like fight/flight to the extreme. The only way to describe the panic is that I feel like I am afraid my heart will stop beating at any second and ill just faint and die. This is all of course not helped by the fact that even though i have had two clear chest xrays, i seem to have a constant nagging ache in my left pectoral muscle that my brain is telling me is a lung issue/tumor. Has anyone ever experienced a prolonged slight ache sensation like that while quitting? If it WAS a lung pain would the pain even be in that area (currently the ache is seemingly coming from under/an inch behind my nipple. would actual lung pain feel more like it was in my back?)?

Basically I am just looking for support from anyone with a similar story to mine as far as age/gender/weight/length of abuse. I am 200 pounds, M, 32, non-smoker (never smoked a cigarette in my life). I drink maybe once a week if I go to brunch, low stress job.

Any encouragement would make me feel much better. Looking forward to getting this all behind me.

Just another guy said...

I had similar feelings. I would feel like my body isn't there anymore for a few seconds. I am not sure I have the right words for it. It's like your body ceased to exist and you are left only as a mind presence in the room where you currently are.

But for me it wouldn't trigger any panic because for some reason it did not seem dangerous. Just a very weird experience.

dh098017 said...

@ Justanotherguy - YES! it is EXACTLY like that! like i stop being a physical person for a few seconds and just become consciousness. it freaks me out so bad! mainly because it usually happens when i am lying in the pitch black trying to fall asleep. How long did it take for that portion of the withdrawals to pass for you?

THC Wiki said...

Thanks for this Great News share with us.i think this post is very helpful for about knowing marijuana.

Anonymous said...

First of all dude that's really rude to say because some people really do have problems or underlying issues and some people are struggling. you're supposed to bring people up in life and your comment is bringing people down not everybody is mentally strong dude and everybody is different and everybody's body reacts differently so do your research. If u were mentally strong u would be able to see other perspectives and I'm pretty sure ur not a doctor so who are u to say shit like that. U need to do some soul searching. God bless u.

And I smoked weed for 10 years straight age 12-22 and my brain/body was addicted to the harmful toxins and additives bc the cartels who make most weed here in the US put so many chemicals in this shit that some peoples body's react to it differently... so I'm speaking from experience and inner wisdom... And btw I quit by choice not bc I had to.

Just another guy said...

@dh098017 - Sorry for late response, I haven't checked this topic in a while.

I didn't really stop smoking. Initially I stopped for two weeks and after that it was easier to maintain normal cannabis use (which is for me 2 days a week) that doesn't impair your general ability to function as a normal person :)

However, these effects (feeling like disappearing) still persist but only, as you said, when you are in pitch dark or staring at something. It was horrifying for me when it happened during class, for example. I would feel totaly lost and scared. It would almost cause me to have panic attack.

I believe that complete clearing of cannabis for at least 2 weeks-1 month would be required for it to go away. And this is only a guess based on my experince of how fast "cannabis-afterfeelings" go away. (If I don't smoke for a week or two now, it feels almost as if I never smoked.)

Since I am to some extent a spiritual person (but not in religious sense), I don't resist altered states of consciousness because it all in some way an expression of who we are, so experience of consciousness separated from body is not something to be feared. I did LSD and many stuff which powerfully detach you from conventional sense of reality, and trust me, these marijuana induced feeling are very benign compared to these. Yet, in public situations it still makes me uncomfortable as hell. Doing LSD in public, in comparison, would probably make me commit a suicide right on the place :) Not kidding.

So perhaps I appear to be contradictory. On one hand I say I accept these feeling, but on the other, I fear them as hell. Yes it is true, but it all based on where I am, or, is it a friendly and "home" atmosphere, or a collage exam situation, for example, where it freaks the hell out of me.

Also, when that kind of experience of dissapearing comes to you, distracting yourself often doesn't work and you just have to wait for it to go away. When at home, I usually go with the flow and wait for it to go away because I discovered that the only bad thing about it is the fear itself that you're having. Yet, it took a whole lot of time to stop resisting it.


Another forum topic:
> "Crazy dreams / cannabis withdrawal" @

Anonymous said...

I am on day 4 and still feel like crap. The first day I thought I was going to die just from withdrawls constant flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, sweating crazy, especially my hands and feet, cold sweats especially at night in my sleep and when I wake up, cannot sleep at all, my anger goes out of control at any frustration that I have. The first 2 days were the worst ever symptoms. Day 3 a little better but not at all comfortable, feel a little better now that I can eat but in small portions nothing sounds good to eat. cold sweats are minimal but are still there. My temperature is all over the place still one minute I'm cold and the next I am hot next I break into a cold sweat (not as much on cold sweats).I am more alert compared to the first couple of days, when I felt like I was lost and confused? The best ways to deal with horrible symptoms is to try to relax and keep your mind off the symptoms. Watching t.v. also helped me. The sweat is very hard to combat....warm baths really were affective for the moment and 30-60 mins after the bath I felt better until symptoms came back. Last night I filled a bucket of warm hot water and put my feet in it and it did the wonders for me when dealing with the sweaty feet and being cold while watching t.v.. And I did that today too and it help me a lot.
I have been smoking for the last 10 years of my life and it ran my life. Every day when I wake up, before I went to work, on my breaks and my lunches at work, when I got till the end of night. I loved it so much but hated it to death. I did this everyday of my life for 10 years. It had to be done for the obvious reasons.
I hope this does helps for anyone out there and is I'll check back if I can help with any q's.....
This is real and is very hard to deal with but you can do it .........

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for your comments. The experience you describe is pretty typical of the more extreme end of the withdrawal spectrum. Loss of appetite and the sweats are really common and really a pain sometimes.

Anonymous said...

For the last eight year - save a few days here and there - I have been an around the clock user. Yeah, it started slowly at a couple times a week with my 'new friends'. Then I started buying for myself and skipping the meet-ups. Some folks are built differently and I have must have the perfect junkie biology. That is the exact word I used for myself. I'm clean now. It's been seven months. The day the test strip finally gave me that second line, I was dancing on the moon. The process toward that hurt. Bad.

While tossing the house about two days into it, I found some notes I had written myself.
"The only time I hate being is when I'm high."
"Reality: that place I have to be when I'm not high."
"Don't forget [MY NAME], the Monkey never dies."
And lots of other stuff that didn't really make much sense. But those, they struck home with me.

Things are easier now. I smiled to myself when I sent out a bulk text message apologizing for my permanent departure from the bud club. Over the next few hours I received lots of, "Good for you!"s, "Keep up the fight!"s, and "Best of luck. I hope I don't ever see you around here again. Peace out." It was oddly encouraging.

So, I've made it seven months while living in Denver, Colorado clean. With recreational stores offering free vape pens along with 2-for-1 deals on the hash oil or 'samples' with other purchases, this S**T ain't easy. However, there is a reality that is getting clearer and clearer. But the itch always flickers now and then. I may be over the withdrawals but there is a much longer fight. And it pops up now and again when I least expect it. The Monkey never dies? But I'll never be a junkie again. (It's okay to use that word. If you say it to yourself quietly in your head, you'll know if it fits. It's almost as good as looking yourself in the eye in a mirror and counting backwards from 20. Boy, now that is depressing when one is stoned senseless in an empty house.)
But it does get better. Anything is better than that life once we see it for what it is. Even the withdrawals are better than that life.

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for the post. Great advice.

Laura R. said...

I have smoked marijuana for the last 4 years, about a quad/mo - average. For the last month, I was smoking more, about 5-7x/day. I had to abruptly stop because of dental implants. I started to experience abdominal pain within 24 hours and on the third consecutive day of feeling pain I smoked once (1hit), and the next two days I did the same; however, I still have abdominal pain. My question: have any of you experienced cannabis withdrawal symptoms simply by decreasing the amount of cannabis you smoke?

Dirk Hanson said...

Sure, it's possible to bring on some withdrawal effects by reducing your average intake. Sometimes that brings on detox effects in a major way. You don't have to go cold turkey to feel withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

i dont know what you are talking about people. i have been smoking pot for 16 years every single day. usually once a year (usually during vacation) i would stop smoking for a few weeks and i have never experienced any serious withdrawal symptoms. i would be lying if i said i dont experience anything when i smoke for a year every day and suddenly stop. i do feel the need smoke again and i do feel kinda uneasy, but that is largely due to me being used to be stoned 0-24 and to always be in a very good mood (even when life is not very good to me) and to have a firm grip on my emotions. also it is due the sudden stop of a very long habit, if you wore to drink tea a few times a day for 16 years and suddenly stopped, i bet you would feel uneasy as well. i also start having excess energy and have the need to spend it somewhere, which is to be expected since cannabis (or at least certain sorts of cannabis) is a sedative. however, these symptoms only occur on the first day and go away with a few good meals and a beer during the day. at least that is the way things work for me. i have seen people get nervous and angry in certain situations when they are used to smoking every day and suddenly stop, but those situations could make anyone nervous and angry. the reason why it is obvious that the person is angry or nervous is because i am used to see the person stoned and thus in a good mood and capable of handling those crapy situations life throws at you sometimes with a smile.

Anonymous said...

reading thru the comments i can only say: people, i do not know what you are smoking but it is not regular good old cannabis. if you really have the symptoms you are describing here, stop it because you are smoking something contaminated or worse. i socialize mostly with smokers and i know an entire generation of them. most of them have been smoking every day for 15+ years and i have been friends with some of them since i was 7 years old. sure, me and them can get a little nervous in certain annoying situations you run into during and ganja is not available (and that happens as ganja is illegal in my country) to calm the nerves, but experiencing physical pain and all sorts of disorders?? i have never heard or seen anything like that. it is as if i am reading the comments of heroin addicts, not ganja users. with all the unbelievably horrible things happening in the world, i would not be surprised in the least if someone was adding substances to ganja to make it more addictive. sadly, i would expect to see that from governments and companies rather than criminals. i will add that the stuff we used to smoke 15 years ago has nothing to do with the stuff we smoke today. 15 years ago we used to have ganja that grew under the sun, had seeds and was pretty mild. today we have stuff that grows under a lamp, has no seeds and is much more potent. however i still have never heard of such severe symptoms from cannabis withdrawal. anything other than being a little nervous for one day is competely foreign to me, and i really know a lot of people that have been daily smokers for a few decades.

Unknown said...

Ive used daily for 2.5 yrs for a medical condition which is now mostly under control. Im actually out of state on vacation and stopped for 4 days and im on the bathroom floor right now taking a break from diarrhea and throwing up. It could of course ne unrelated-but it has that sort of stomach pain you have in heartbreak not food poisoning or flu. Makes me think neurotransmitter disruption induced. It seems to make sense that neurotransmitters are in the gut....weed affects neurotransmitters....something is gonna go wonky if you take it away. I AM shocked tho. I think i may titrate out with tinctures of progressively higher cbd to thc ratio. Maybe give my body a chance to start msking its own endocannabinoids before i take it away and feel like this. I can guaruntee if i had access to it id light up right now.

It's a sort of nausea/dogestive disturbance i cant describe and a horrific impending sense of doom. Like a breakupy stomach.

Dirk Hanson said...

Shocking, like you say. Weird emotions, weird dreams, weird stomach. Something is deeply and desperately wrong, but it's unclear exactly what it is. Can hit some folks hard if they're not expecting trouble and are unlucky enough to get it anyway.

Brad said...

A few days ago, I reached 3 years clean, after smoking for decades. Long term sobriety is possible. Life has significantly changed for the better. I keep on exercising regularly, and have been into a good routine with that since I stopped smoking weed. Some form of exercise is so important to getting clean. I look better, sleep better and think clearer. I have been praised for the quality of my work and take pride in doing my best to excel at my occupation. Positive parts of my personality that were somewhat suppressed by constant weed smoking have emerged again, and I'm grateful for that. It hasn't been an easy journey, but there have been many great times. To be honest, I still think about smoking even after all this time away, but the benefits of being free are so worth it, even if they have come gradually. I continue to make the decision to not smoke just for today. The best to you all.

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks so much for your comments. It's very useful to hear from someone who hasn't smoked in 3 years and can report back, so to speak, about their successes. I think you have summed up the positives remarkably well.

Anonymous said...

I'm 45 today and have been using marijuana since I was about 16, pretty much every day. In my 20's I would consume about 1/8 oz a week, but in my 30's it went up and topped off a few years ago at about 1 oz every two weeks. I'm an engineer, I write software and I have done pretty well in my career. I have taken breaks from time to time but mostly for travelling, so it never really went beyond 3 weeks of time away from it. Last year I decided on July 2nd that I would stop, and see what happened. The first couple days were tough, but once my daily behavior pattern changed, things smoothed out. Also, working out at the gym helped, some exercise...getting an extra surf session or late night skate session helped. I dont get the nausea or hot/cold some people get, nor the headaches. What i do get are disturbing dreams that run the gamut from losing stuff and not being able to find it to being chased, or just being critisized. After about 4 months, the dreams subdued and the dreams I didnt like were happening less often. I then started process of trying to settle my nerves when i lay down for sleep, longer cycles of breath and slower. This has helped a lot. I'm now 9 months down the road from quitting cold turkey. I have never done that before, it was always part of some travel whereby I had no access to marijuana. I was amazed at my own self-discipline for deciding firmly in my mind that I wanted to conduct this experiment of not smoking weed, just to see if being normal provided that difference-high that I sought out when I smoked. It worked. I can tell you with great confidence that outperforming your colleagues that are not high comes with great smirky satisfaction, however I got even more personally overwhelmed with my own capabilities when I'm not high, and so I just gotta say that this is a better world without it. I wish I could do it ever so occasionally, perhaps down the road in a couple of years that might be possible, however I know if that I smoked now I would be very upset with myself, unusually paranoid that I had killed my streak of self-discipline and I would be uncomfortable with my high. I went through that last time I quit for 3 months when I travelled. Well, anyhow...I hope this helps folks doing research on this. I love smoking weed, but I love being conscious and aware in the world, its such an amazing place. Peace and love to you all.

Dirk Hanson said...

Great comment, thanks. For some people, the extremely vivid and emotionally charged dreaming can be quite unsettling. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you haven't been remembering dreams at all for years, it comes as a shock....

Anonymous said...

I quit after thirty yrs of about an ounce a month.. experienced all symptoms described.. realised im recreating symptoms of illness/hospitalisation as 18month old infant.. when the drugs/opiates wore off i left the feeling of everything being fine, to experience raging fevers (bone infection) pain in chest (pericarditis) and the terrible desolation of abandonment- no parents present..the evolutionary mechanism kicks in with fear/expectation of death no reason to live etc (picture an infant left by parents 24hrs in the wild.. maybe freezing and surrounded by sabre toothed tigers.. thats what the genes are screaming..)if i ran out of pot or if my gf even leaves the house let alone a split up i feel those unexplainably traumatic feelings and when i'd smoke theyd go away.. now i coach myself through that astoundingly deep anxiety by saying "your ok.. its JUST A FEELING! The reality,now, is fine! Im safe! Those are JUST feelings.. past memories.. past traumas...
Ps.. cutting down drastically before quitting lessens the severity greatly!! ..prolongs the agony a bit but from full on to nothing the symptoms were just too severe and i was too cranky /insane /unsafe..
Cold showers, calming things and meditation have all been very helpful

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for your comments. I like your recommendations about cold showers, calming things and meditation.

Anonymous said...

I'm srry but I've smoke for 11 years n I'm 20 n I quit cold turkey cuz I become pregnant n I only had a few anger n depression spells n I have been clean 4 months it not to addictive...

lewis said...

Hi Dirk, I would just like to say your blog has been one of the single greatest helps through the cannabis withdrawal process.

I'm currently on day 3 of my second attempt at quitting and it's not easy but not as bad as the first. I have been smoking since i was 13 and I am now nearly 25 and I've had enough. The first time I quit I managed to last a month and just as I was starting to feel good again, I started smoking thinking I could stay in control and sensible. Boy was I wrong, and here I am a year later in the exact same predicament.

The main symptoms for me are mainly GI related. Constant nausea, the sight/smell/thought of food makes me feel incredibly sick and sometimes even vomiting. The doc gave me some metoclopramide for the nausea which may or may not have worked, but has potentially horrible side effects so I try not to take it. I've lost a lot of weight rapidly and have virtually no appetite whatsoever. Just started on the L-Theanine so I hopefully that provides some minor relief who knows. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel but these first few weeks are hell.

I will post back with an update soon for anyone thats interested.

Stay strong people.


Dirk Hanson said...

Hi Lewis: Have you tried any of the garden-variety anti-nausea meds for travel sickness, like Bonine or Dramamine? Sometimes those will right the ship a bit....

Lewis said...

I hadn't thought to try something like that. Will try it ASAP and report back. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is the same..luke some people get side effects from pharmaceutical drugs and other's don't. .. seems you are very small minded... maybe you should look at you're own mental issues

Dirk Hanson said...

People not being metabolically the same is rather the point of these messages.

James C. said...

Hi Dirk, Thank you for your Blog, I've been smoking everyday since I was 31 years old and I'm now 48 years old. Wow, now that I read the last sentence I feel shame. Most people who have posted are much younger and have smoked for much less time. I have been cutting back on smoking the last 2 weeks and its been really tough just cutting back. I've experienced all the symptoms listed in the article to a tee. Although, this is an old article I have found it helpful to hear everyone else's stories, some struggles some not. I'm hoping if I come to the blog when I feel I need to be motivated or just write down what I'm feeling it will help not just me but others to let them know they're not alone. I've cut my consumption by 1/2 last week and 3/4 this week.

Dirk Hanson said...

You're welcome. Age doesn't matter. If you browse the comments here, you will get as accurate an experiential picture of marijuana abuse and withdrawal as you are likely to find anywhere on the internet. It started casually, but as you can see, there was a demand for a site like this. We've all learned something we didn't know before, and confirmed a lot of things we did.

Florida medical marijuana doctor said...

Wow, I am really glad I found this site. It's nice to know I'm not the only one going through such rocky seas after quitting.

Justin said...

I stopped 8 days ago and yes I could not sleep for about 3 days, and then on day 5 I felt very tired and fell in a deep sleep in the middle of the day. I also had a strange burning skin sensation, had that a year ago after coming off klonopin. The main thing for me is the rage I feel- lots of entitlement, and become sad quickly- little appetite and mild gastrointestinal. I have been smoking regularly again for 5 years!

aron mares said...

dam...i fucked my brain the the long dick of THC

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