Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Marijuana Withdrawal Rivals Nicotine

Kicking pot or cigarettes leads to anxiety, sleep problems.

A small study in the journal Alcohol and Drug Dependence likened withdrawal from cannabis to that of withdrawal from nicotine, in the case of smokers addicted to either or both substances. The study gave further support to the growing body of evidence supporting the existence of a clinically significant marijuana withdrawal syndrome in heavy marijuana smokers.

As one cigarette smoker in withdrawal famously put it, “I cannot think, cannot concentrate, cannot remember.” Now it appears that heavy marijuana smokers who go cold turkey might be susceptible to the same symptoms of withdrawal from addiction.

Dr. Ryan Vandrey, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and principle author of the study, told Amy Norton of Reuters Health that marijuana withdrawal can cause symptoms similar to nicotine withdrawal, such as anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep problems. Marijuana withdrawal, which typically affects only heavy smokers, has not been well studied or characterized in the scientific community. Some marijuana advocates view the idea of marijuana withdrawal with considerable skepticism. “These new findings give some idea of its significance,” Vandrey said, and will help inform heavy pot smokers about the symptoms they may face if they abruptly stop smoking.

In the journal article, “A within-subject comparison of withdrawal symptoms during abstinence from cannabis, tobacco, and both substances,” Vandrey and his co-authors conclude: “Overall withdrawal severity associated with cannabis alone and tobacco alone was of a similar magnitude. Withdrawal during simultaneous cessation of both substances was more severe than for each substance alone, but these differences were of short duration and substantial individual differences were noted.”

The authors argue that “cannabis withdrawal is clinically important and warrants detailed description in the DSM-V and ICD-11.” The DSM-V and the ICD-11 are standardized diagnostic classification systems used in the practice of psychiatry.

Participants in the study smoked marijuana at least four times a day, and cigarette smokers consumed 20 or more cigarettes daily.

Since, as Vandrey notes, the presence of withdrawal symptoms often leads to failure when smokers are attempting to quit, it is possible that many more people are trying—and failing—to quit marijuana than researchers have previously suspected. Dr. Vandrey suggested that since difficulty sleeping is one common symptom of withdrawal, sleep medications might be indicated in the case of severe marijuana withdrawal, but cautioned that more study is needed.

Along with insomnia and anxiety, heavy marijuana smokers often report an increase in the frequency and vividness of their dreams during withdrawal as well.

Photo: ©

See also: Marijuana Withdrawal


Unknown said...

having tried and failed many times to quit marijuana due to withdrawal symptoms.. nightmares (thats if i can finally get to sleep) i find it difficult to believe that there is doubt whether witdrawal symptoms exist.. i personally know many failed quitters who all report the same or similar symptoms.. anxiety.. paranoia..insomnia.. digestion problems.. sweating.. headaches.. i am 5 days into a quit again.. and it feels like shit..take it seriously.. its real.. there must be an addicted "expert" who can verify these things surely.. i am an accomplished guitarist.. i can barely play a scale due to mind fog.. let alone play a complete passage..maybe its not considered such a problem for the government as reported.. if this is so why are there literally millions of people in prison because of it...i would greatly appreciate some help with this habit..without having to involve myself with some blah blah anonymous higher power bullshit religious narconon scientology crap shoved up my asshole..

Dirk Hanson said...


Most doctor's still don't get it, so there's not much formal help available. Anticraving meds are all in the early stages.

No magic bullet, but good tips can be found at my "Marijuana Withdrawal" post, where lots of people have related their experiences with pot withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

I have quit many times :> and never went through what I am feeling right now. I stopped smoking both pot and cigarettes about three weeks ago. I smoked daily for at least the past year. Now I feel like I am in the twilight zone. I not able to focus, my coordination is questionable and my face looks withdrawn with major bags under my eyes. I am tired all of the time and feel like crawling into a hole when I am around other people. It’s funny because when I smoked, it actually made me feel "normal" and now coping with everyday life is almost unbearable. Thank god my wife (who has never smoked) is supportive - it really makes a difference. I will be seeing my psych dr. (I am bi-polar)who knows of my smoking habbit. When I called her for the apt. and mentioned my symptoms, she clearly acknowledged that my having stopped cold turkey makes sense when I described my symptoms - heart palpitations, extreme exhaustion, fog head, unraveling at the seams. I will be seeing her this Tuesday - until then she prescribed Klonopin, an anti anxiety medication. No, I am not a freak, just someone who has been self-medicating (along with the Welbutrin and Depakote) for a long time.

Dirk Hanson said...

"until then she prescribed Klonopin, an anti anxiety medication."

I think that in extreme cases, this is a reasonable short-term treatment option. But of course you have to watch yourself with the addictive meds....

Anonymous said...

I'm 23. I'm sober. Have been for 2 1/2 years. Went to rehab. Believe in a Higher Power and my drug of choice is Marijuana. There is hope my friend's... Honesty, Open-Mindedness and Willingness.

Anonymous said...

I've smoked pot daily for over 35 yrs, and when I could get it a few yrs more than that. So lets say 40 yrs. Anyone that doesn't believe lack of sleep and vivid dreams aren't the big part of quitting needs to have their own head examined. I knew that when I was in my 20s.

It's not comparable to quitting cigarettes, totally opposite problems. Cigarettes are a problem when your awake, pot when you want to sleep.

It's 4:13 A.M, and the only reason I found this page is I'm desperate to sleep and looking for help. I'm 29 days clean, and the only reason is I need a job. Everyone's testing these days. Which means more and more people will be trying to stop. Medical science needs to take this more seriously.

Dirk Hanson said...

I maintain that, as with alcohol addiction, sometimes the short-term use of prescription sleep aids or anti-anxiety meds is justified in cases like yours.

Unknown said...

As an ex-tobacco addict, I find it kind of stunning that cannabis and tobacco withdrawal are said to be in the same ballpark.
From personal experience, I find that I have few difficulties regulating my cannabis usage while it was virtually impossible to regulate my tobacco usage. I would still crave nicotine even when smoking another cigarette would just make me feel sick.

I actually managed to quit tobacco (10 years ago) by substituting cannabis for it and I think a fair number of people who claim to be cannabis addicts might actually be confused by government propaganda that has exaggerated the addictive properties of cannabis.

Sure, you may feel somewhat groggy when you quit cold turkey from months or years of daily usage, but this is not on par with nicotine withdrawal.

Accurate statistics on cannabis addiction are not even available because in fascist countries like the USA people are actually forced into treatment when cannabis use is detected. With such bogus cannabis addiction statistics, how can we even have a sensible discussion about the subject?

Kind regards, Niek

Dirk Hanson said...

" With such bogus cannabis addiction statistics, how can we even have a sensible discussion about the subject?"
Good point, but maybe we could start by agreeing from the start that there is such a thing as cannabis addiction for the unlucky few? Pot, like ever other psychoactive drug, is neither a wholly good thing, nor a wholly bad thing. We've gone through an extended adolescence with regard to pot, extolling its virtues and claiming there are no negatives, in part as a result of absurd anti-drug propaganda we have all had to wade through over the years. Now maybe it's time for the straight science of the matter--which includes an extended period of detox, withdrawal and craving for some. No point trying to wish it away or explain it as some kind of ephemeral rebound effect.

larry said...

I guess it is different with each person I have smoked for near 40yrs I have not smoked in 8 days I have the crazy dreams and an uneasy feeling,something like hot flashes and my hands sweat alot but it is all bearable. I'm glad I found this site at least now I know it could be worse but I'm still quitting mostly because of lying ass drug dealers who always say they have the fire.I want control back of my life and I will have it I don't blame the bud I blame myself. good luck to all the heads who have had enough

Dirk Hanson said...

Now there's a good reason to quit that nobody has touched on yet: The incredible, unbelievable unreliability and general slackness of pot dealers. What is it about dealing weed that attracts the most irrresponsible, least dependable people in the known universe?

Anonymous said...

I am contemplating a respite from 10 years of daily light (1-3 hits/day) use of "kind bud" from Amsterdam and LA.

My tolerance is very low and have no problem with controlling my intake of cannabis. It takes _very little_ to satisfy me. I use it as a prelude to exercise and meditation, and as a general tonic for the spirit.

When I was working I could only sleep about 5 hrs a night, now that I've got some time off my sleep is increasing again to 8 hrs. The great majority of my life has been 6 hrs or less per night. (I have never had a problem not feeling rested.)

I tried 5 mg of melatonin several weeks ago and it put me down quite well. A few subsequent experiments with smaller amounts were not successful in inducing copious sleep. Dr Weil says that for daily use, .25 to .33 mg is recommended, and for occasional use about 2.3 mg was effacious.

Note, I do not use melatonin on a regular basis since my sleep is fine at present, but may use it in the future to ease the after-withdrawal discomfort should it arise.

This is an appropriate blog for me and I will be checking in again with updates or to answer any questions. Hopefully I can be of assistance or offer encouragement based on my experience with marijuana (since 1970).

Thanks, "Tom"

Dirk Hanson said...

Hi Tom:

Yes, melatonin works as an effective natural sleep aid for some people, as does Valerian. I also hear that Chamomile works for some.

Hope you will check in from time to time and answer any questions you can.

Unknown said...

thats a great idea lets get addicted to xanax instead of marijuana..retard

Anonymous said...

This is just plain false. I smoked cigarettes for a number of years, less than 1/2 pack a day. Here's what withdrawal is like from nicotine:

* Irritability (naturally)
* Chest pain, SCARY chest pain
* Sore throat
* Lump in throat
* lots of coughing
* flu/cold like symptoms
* tightness of chest
* phlegm and lots of it.
* Insomnia
* rapid heart beat
* waking up in the middle of the night
* light headedness
* constipation
* cold sweats

My biggest aggravation from the IDIOTS that keep saying marijuana is bad for you, is that they exaggerate the problems of the drug. Yeah, sure, it's bad for you, but not anywhere NEARLY as bad as it's made out to be. HEROIN is bad for you, and it will kill you - you can't exaggerate it's risks. Nicotine takes MONTHS to get truly addicted to, but once you're there it's hard to leave it. Crystal meth will KILL you.

Never do crystal or heroin. You can experiment with lots of other drugs, but not those. If you do either of those 2 drugs, even if you quit, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, you'll want to do them. They are very hard to quit.

I am tired of these fuckers overplaying the risks of marijuana. It undermines all the credibility of truly dangerous drugs. There are some really dangerous drugs.

And nicotine may be technically (I mean by a literal definition of what addiction is - meaning that you need more of the substance to get the same high, addiction isn't a measure of how hard it is to leave a particular drug) more addictive than heroin, but you can smoke a cigarette once and forget about it. Heroin you do once and for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, you can NEVER reach the same high you got from the first time. It's called chasing the dragon and you'll never get back to that high. Best not to know.

I am so fucking sick and tired of well meaning, but CLUELESS BASTARDS, giving advice about drug use. Drugs to absolutely stay away from - any goddamned opiate or derivative. The rest you can break, but it can take effort. Read about what constitutes addiction before you try any drug, and be strict with yourself to prevent addiction. If you can't do this, fuck you, you deserve to be a fucking junkie. You have a higher level of reasoning than animals, use it.

Some drugs are REALLY dangerous. If you smoked pot, realized it was no big deal to quit, don't think the same thing of heroin, or crack. Cigarettes are insidious, it takes months to get truly addicted, and it's just hell to stop. You basically have to be on guard against smoking for weeks on end. It sucks and unlike marijuana, you don't get any high off nicotine, and it's not enjoyable after just a few weeks. The only reason you "enjoy" cigarettes is that you're addicted. After just 2 weeks, all you're doing it getting rid of withdrawal symptoms when you smoke - you get no high at all.

So to this author, he needs to get stuffed. He doesn't have the first clue what he's talking about and this study was probably sponsored by the mafia.

Dirk Hanson said...

Every side effect you listed above for quitting cigarettes has been mentioned by responders to my post on Marijuana Withdrawal as a common symptom of withdrawal from heavy pot smoking. You should be thankful you don't suffer from this, rather than trashing the people who do.

Anonymous said...

Im a 32yr old pot smoker.I began smoking when i was 13 and growing large amounts of VERY POTENT weed>I smoked 50 to 75 bongs of jack herrer a day.I have stopprd smoking for 4days now and am suffering enormously.My symptons include not being able to even close my eyes until 6 in the morning then only sleeping a hour or 2, cant eat(im a bodybuilder)at all ,feel like im on meth 22/7,erratic heartbeat,cant stay still,feel nausious.To the guy that said cannabis isnt addictive your just retarded.I tryed meth a few times sure its VERY addictive but i didnt get hooked on it(felt like havind 10 cups of coffee)SO if your gonna talk crap FUCK OFF.I was like smack addict the only time i left the couch was to sleep eat shit ang goto gym>

Anonymous said...

So 4us REAL LIVE people who have and recognise we have an addiction,lets be strong minded,and stay clean and clear headed,and take control of our lives again.

Anonymous said...

I have tried many times to quit MJ for different reasons. I quit smoking cigarettes in 2001 and promptly started smoking pot in less than a month. I tried to quit numerous times. I had some horrible withdrawal symptoms in the past, emesis, extreme insomnia, fatigue, lack of concentration (mostly from the lack of sleep). Most of these were cold turkey and directly tied with the fact that my dealer was a shady type (surprise). I noticed that once I stopped MJ, I would start drinking alcohol much more, or using all different types of over the counter drugs to put me to sleep and reduce anxiety level. I have always been pretty type A person so stopping pot was not really great. However, with many attempts it only got easier for me to quit, the side effects were less, but I never did actually quit.

For the past three years I have had a steady source of some amazing MJ, from a solid dude. I realized I was smoking ½ oz a month. I was stunned when I discovered that. So now I am ready to quit. I did not go cold turkey, but I reduced the usage by at least 85% and I am hurting. I have daily headaches, stomach aches, feeling of depression, dullness, but on the other hand I am taking a 300 level class on college and scoring 99 out of a 100. For some reason I was always able to do incredibly great in school while smoking pot every night even while I was working full time, and taking anatomy and two other classes. MJ never stopped me from achieving my dreams, educations or travels, but I really dislike the fact that I was addicted to it- I would go and travel for several weeks knowing that I will have no access to it and those first few days would be hell, but in two weeks I was back to normal and did great, but once at home, old habits would sneak in me and I was back to being a daily user.

For me the way to success is based on finding something else to do with the time I had no my hands. If I had nothing to do I was much more likely to smoke if it was available and with this dude it was always available. The reason I am posting is that I just realized that I might be having side effects of the reduced use and using the old ways to deal with it. Despite all the reducing I am not smoke free. I HAVE to have at least one hit to reduce the tension of the day. I really want to move past even that one hit, but I do not want to take any drugs, start drinking or other. I am feeling it today for sure.

Dirk Hanson said...

One of the things recovering addicts discover, regardless of the drug, is that in most cases they suddenly have a lot of extra time on their hands--time formerly spent seeking, preparing, and consuming drugs.

AA always highlights this, telling its members not to just sit in a chair and stair at the wall--a prescription for relapse. Same can be said for weed.

Anonymous said...

I too have been down this path. Its a bad path. I was diagnosed with adhd as a kid and put on Ritalin but taken off when my dad didnt like what it was doing. I then was on other medications. I didnt touch even alcohol until my last year of high school and pot not until I graduated. However I did not do it a lot my freshman year, I slowly turned it into a habit my sophomore year and in summers would do it only on weekends but sometimes more often. I really got bad into it my last year of college and now I have to quit and have been clean for a few weeks but will have a drug test coming up soon. I also let my finances get bad and now that reality has hit I am scared to death of the future, as the job market does not look good as it is, I don't need failing a test hair or piss to get in my way of a job but it will. I smashed up my pieces and threw them out and do not plan to do the stuff again. It has been done before, not to this extreme but I always end up going back to it. Now three weeks cold turkey i dont really want to do it but the sleeplessness is so hard to deal with. Please let me know if anyone else knows a good way to get back to sleeping normal. Pot made me so lazy, unmotivated, uncaring for the future. I was trying to cover up my fears of everything but instead of dealing with my problems I just wasted countless dollars on a fricken plant and it all went up in smoke. I still have a 3.0 but one more term to go so we shall see how it turns out.

Svensk said...

I have been smooking marijuana for five years or so, on a regular basis.decided to quit after a couple of not so pleasant experiences with it. what I wanna say is that I have been clean for 6days now and I can honestly say its killing me. the withdrawal symptoms I have are numerous e.g pain in spinal cord and most frequent in the shoulder/neck region, weird headach. like pressure walking around the head. rapid heartbeating from time to time. sometimes a bit scary probebly due to paranoia. itches and pain in muscles throughout the body; some chestpain. sensitive to sounds. insomnia, anxiety. but this will not keep from quiting. i will succeed but i never thought it was gonna be this hard. Withdrawal symptoms definetly exist and they are not to be taken lightly. Its like the worst long lasting hungover you can emagine. payback for all the good times

Svensk said...

I have been smooking marijuana for five years or so, on a regular basis.decided to quit after a couple of not so pleasant experiences with it. what I wanna say is that I have been clean for 6days now and I can honestly say its killing me. the withdrawal symptoms I have are numerous e.g pain in spinal cord and most frequent in the shoulder/neck region, weird headach. like pressure walking around the head. rapid heartbeating from time to time. sometimes a bit scary probebly due to paranoia. itches and pain in muscles throughout the body; some chestpain. sensitive to sounds. insomnia, anxiety. but this will not keep from quiting. i will succeed but i never thought it was gonna be this hard. Withdrawal symptoms definetly exist and they are not to be taken lightly. Its like the worst long lasting hungover you can emagine. payback for all the good times

I don't blame the bud I blame myself said...

I don't blame the bud I blame myself. this quote signifies the real fact because marijuana addict people who have some kind of problem of which he is kept thinking about all the time. then these addicts perceive some sounds and think that someone are playing game with him. but in reality all these things are wrong and this is only due to to anxiety, depression, hallucination. all such images, sounds become live for these kind of addicts because they are fully concentrated or stressed only due to some particular difficulty. it may be relation to breakup with girlfriend, fighting with friends and many more. so the treatment for marijuana addiction is necessary in early stage of its compulsion. so this is totally your fault to indulge in such addiction.

usually all these paranoid things happens to only those addict who is mentally depressed and want to resolve their issues by kept thinking all the time.then they perceive some sounds and what is going on in that sound is completely comes comes from his own mind.

Anonymous said...

I am going to be 22 next month.
I have been around marijuana my entire life. As a child no younger than 7 I was fed the stems of the plant to relax my ADHD. I first smoked the stuff when I was 14, stopped because of family and state issues and started back up again once I readjusted when I was 16, I would say that I have a total of 6 years of usage. I do get irritable, exhausted, sleepless, upset stomach, aching eyes and/or head, 'head fog', unclear thought processes, overly sweaty palms, paranoia, not too much anxiety, palpitations, those are the most frightening to me, and all of this after a few days of not using the plant. My thoughts are disorganized and I have trouble concentrating on one task at a time and I rarely finish a task unless I write down what I'm supposed to be doing and set it where I know I will see it or someone is there to guide me. When I am high, I write poetry better, am more physically active, am less emotionally charged when it comes to an intense situation that requires quick thinking and action; I just instinctually do what I feel is right at said moment. I am better at articulation and cognitive reasoning and logic when high, and can talk up a storm on multiple subjects. When I'm high I can multitask easier, and think about or process 3 or more things or subjects at one time. My main problem with the plant is it's inacessability and the palpitations. I want to be able to enjoy all of the benefits, but I am having trouble finding a balance. And it really doesn't take much for me to obtain the high. I can take one drag off of a shwag joint and be stoned for up to 6 hours.
Any ideas, suggestions, comments?

Anonymous said...

Greetings From Hell on Earth - My Prison Cell

I used drugs and alcohol for twenty years. From the time I was fourteen in 1984 until I was thirty-four in 2004. I tried to quit many times. In fact, I did quit many times, but I always eventually started back. I never could seem to accept the fact that pot and beer were harmful to me. They seemed like such innocuous substances. The drugs that always got me in trouble were the ones I knew were dangerous - cocaine, opiates, crack, and pills. But I'm an addict. It wasn't the highly addictive nature of the drugs I was using that caused problems for me. It was the highly addictive nature of me.
There's a beast that lives inside me. I don't know how he got there or where he came from or if I was born with him. I do know he has an insatiable appetite for ANY mood altering chemical. The more he is fed, the more he wants. If I feed this beast with pot or alcohol, he's going to gain enough strength to get what he really wants.
If also discovered that if I'm craving any high at all, then something is not right anyway. Relapse happens a long time before I actually use. Why to I want, so badly, to escape from feeling normal? What feeling am I trying to escape from or replace with a better feeling? Why do I feel the need to get high in the first place? It's just for a feeling. Is it that important? What am I willing to sacrifice in order to feel good? Why can't I feel good without a chemical?
I've sacrificed everything for that feeling. I traded everything away. I reached a point where life was not worth living without that feeling. And I've suffered the most horrendous consequences for it. I literally gave my life away. Sold my soul to the devil. For a feeling. Read my book "Running Away From Me" when it is released later this summer.

Anonymous said...

I am now in the process of quiting mj.I have smoked most of the past 28 years. I am not going cold turkey this time because the withdrawal sucks. I have spent a week weening myself from about 20 bong hits a day to 4-5. I still have withdrawal symptoms, but it is tolerable. Starting with the dreams now. Last night I dreampt I was cutting my legs off at mid-thigh. Today my teeth and face are aching. What has helped me with sleep and anxiety is taking high amounts of B vitamins (B50 with PABA) along with ionic calcium with magnesium and vit. D. All drugs deplete the body of vitamins and minerals. One of the withdrawal symptoms I have is no appitite. If I do not eat how can I replenish the nutrients my body needs to rebalance itself? Chlorella and spirulina are good natural sources of B vitamins and many other nutrients. Now that I have dealt with the reasons I started at age 15, I am left with this horrible addiction. It has been so long I do not remember what it is like to think without my brain fogged by thc. I am going to take a couple hits before I go to bed so I can sleep.I will quit cold turkey in a few days. I hope I can sleep. I only drink 1 cup of coffee a day, much more causes anxiety and sleeplessness. I am not letting myself take naps this time to throw of my sleep schedule. I do not expect to feel good for the next couple weeks. oh well... too bad for me...LOL I'll be feeling much better soon.

Anonymous said...

hey guys, I'm 24 and in the same boat as all of you. Marijuana helped me out of a tough time, it honestly was a godsend. Today is day 5. I have a WAY harder time quitting marijuana then cigs. I get cold chills, anxiety, insomnia and loss of appetite, not to mention dp which I HATE. It's all personal preference. I haven't smoked nicotine for over 2 months.
I just want to make a point that if you are on medication, using other recreational drugs or aren't eating you are going to feel like bad. I noticed that caffeine and nicotine, made me crazy anxious and unhappy when I was trying to quit the first time. So, I quit both of those, sugar as well. It has been a lot easier. My point being that whatever substances you are using might have different effect on you once you eliminate the marijuana. I smoked pot before I began using nicotine and caffeine, so I know how I react on marijuana alone but not in the absence of it while still abusing stimulants.

Also, marijuana depletes neurotransmitters, from what I've heard most of em. Amino acids are the building blocks of them. I would drink protein shakes(throw some fruit and/or milk in there) if you have appetite problems and supplement certain amino acids.
D-Phenylalanine, GABA, L-Tryptophan are all great for anxiety/depression. If you are sluggish, L-tyrosine is good. Fish oil and a multi are a must IMHO. Good luck all, honestly just keep your mind of quitting and I think you'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

sorry I meant in the beginning, if you are on medication, using recreational drugs or not eating, that might be part of why you are feeling bad.

h0use0fpa1n said...

After smoking 4 or 5 times a day, everyday for the last 4 years, I decided to quit last month. After a few relapses, I now have 6 days behind me, and I can definitely say I have the following withdrawal symptoms:

1. Heart Palpitations
2. Insomnia/restless sleep
3. Chest discomfort
4. Throat discomfort
5. Vivid dreams that wake me up.
6. Anxiety/Irritability

The anxiety and some of the physical symptoms have also turned me into a hypochondriac. At first I was sure I had throat cancer, then a heart condition. It was so bad last night that I went to the ER this morning. Thank goodness, both of those fears were put to rest by the doctor. Now after reading some of your posts, Im going to try and relax with the knowledge that if I make it through the next few weeks, I will have a long and healthy life to look forward to. Thank you all for sharing and my best wishes for all of you who are trying to make a positive change in your lifestyle.

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks for the concise list of symptoms. Your trip to the emergency room because of unidentified symptoms is one of the reasons for the existence of this site--so that people will see these withdrawal effects and recognize them for what they are.

Anonymous said...

I am on my 7th day of quitting pot after 13 years of smoking. I always said that it wasn't addictive and said this as if I was proud that I was not addicted. The truth is that I was and still am but now I am ready to confront the addiction. I have all the symtoms mentioned by the OP and they are not in my head they are physical and real.

I have also in the past experimented with drugs like ectasy, meth, cocaine and alcohol but I never became addicted to any of them becuase I always reminded myself that they were addictive and never went fact I have had good experiences with all of them.............except pot which took control of my life.

I still believe that if I stick to it I will get rid of this awful habit and so will anyone else that admits what it is......

Diamond Jack said...

Been smoking for 15 years, am now 33. Have quit before of a number of occasions, for up to 7 months. But the addiction digs deep, and I always return back to the same lifestyle.

For me, the worst part of quitting is the 'hollowed out feeling'. I feel empty, soulless, depressed and spiritually bereft. The thing about dope, is that when you smoke it you are never bored. You can smoke a bong, and then boring things, like clean the house, and still have that warm and fuzzy feeling which makes you feel content in your own mind. Quitting takes that away. I feel bored and apathetic all of the time. Its horrible. I feel depressed and I hate that.

Sure, a week or 2 will take the edge off, but the urge to pick up the bong again is always in the back of my mind. Its a rainy Sunday afternoon, I've got time to kill, and I think, why not supplement the day with a belly full of hot smoke? And then there I am again, stoned out of my mind staring at all the pretty colors and shapes in my head.

Dirk Hanson said...

Diamond Jack wrote: "For me, the worst part of quitting is the 'hollowed out feeling'. I feel empty, soulless, depressed and spiritually bereft. The thing about dope, is that when you smoke it you are never bored."

I think that this state, as hard to define as it is, leads to relapse more than any other single side effect. Just my guess here. That sense of something gone missing but it doesn't seem to be just the dope; it seems like a part of your essence, your soul, has gone flat.

Unknown said...

One symptom that I have experienced is fairly intense mood swings after around a week of quitting. I would go from being happy and relaxed, to being nervous, paranoid, and almost feeling like I was having a bad trip. Taking lithium for about 3 weeks got me through all of the post acute withdrawl symptoms except profuse night sweating, and nightmares. Once the 3 or so weeks are up, then you can taper off of the lithium, or do enough work to sweat it out so that the levels decrease.
When my blood level was tested after about 3 weeks of the meds, and found to be well below therapeutic levels, which I atttributed to doing lots of outdoor work, I figured that I must not need it anymore. So, I stopped taking it. For two days, I felt slightly jittery, then I was totally normal!! I could sleep pretty much on command. Sweating and nightmares continued for about another month, however.

Anonymous said...

Ten days without getting high after ten years of increasingly frequent use. I only had trouble sleeping the first two nights (so far), but have had the digestion problems, headaches, anxiety (!!). Depression hit this afternoon (hopelessness, tears, n energy) which led to this site which was really helpful. I've also had what I can only describe as burning around my urethra (i'm a girl) and feeling like I have to pee alot. Wondering if that's usual?

Dirk Hanson said...

Well for one thing, frequent urination is sometimes a symptom of anxiety.

arizonaraw said...

Thanks to Dirk for this message board. Reading through it has been helpful to me and have given me the feeling I’m not alone. I thought possibly my own thoughts and experience might also be of help to someone else.
I’m a 45-year-old female and I’ve been smoking lightly almost daily for over 20 years. Although I would occasionally smoke with friends, I was much more likely to just take a few hits a day in the middle of the day to take the edge off. I also really enjoyed a smoke before exercise or spending time in nature. Another thing on the plus side is that I'm an artist and found it could be most helpful for a creative session. I think I was in denial about my addiction because its not a pretty thing to admit, and I also found that I enjoyed the feelings I got from smoking lightly (I don’t enjoy being very high or out of control) and didn’t want to give that up. I related it to having a glass of wine everyday.
Yet, it is time I acknowledge that is it impacting my health, and just not letting me be as healthy a person as I would like to be. Along with the positive effects, I feel it also contributes to lethargy, laziness, depression and a feeling I need it to be normal. I am very into a healthy diet, eating mostly organic and a raw food diet and I'm seeing how hypocritical it is to be smoking on this pure diet, One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in this forum is the chemicals and the possible pesticides we are smoking. I once had organic pot in Glastonbury but other than that who really knows what we are inhaling. I am wondering if the pesticides could be contributing to the severity of some people’s symptoms.
I haven’t smoked for a week now. My thoughts are that for me that first week or so while the THC is leaving your body is the hardest time. Some of the things that help me are leaving my home environment, spending time in nature and nurturing yourself with healthy food and healthy activities you enjoy. I don’t share the problems with sleeplessness that many do or loss of appetite but do have the intense and vivid dreams every night.

Anonymous said...

Am now on day four of my quitting and still feeling the effects of the withdrawal. I was a heavy pot smoker and I am so glad that I decided to stop during my holiday because the insomnia alone would have made it very difficult to do my job effectively as I teach and have to be in front of people all day long, smiling and helping whereas at present I feel the complete opposite.

The main symptoms I am experiencing are insomnia with night sweats, ( waking up at 3am with a wet pillow and no inclination to go back to bed), a constant feeling of nausea which has to be battled with as I don't wish to lose weight, and of course anxiety and irritability.
I am glad to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel after reading this site. :)

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I liked smoking pot was that it killed my dreams. I have always had very vivid and disturbing dreams. I can remember several from twenty years ago. Perhaps night terrors is a better term. Now that I have quit (4 days now) the dreams are returning just as bizare and vivid as ever. I have been drinking hot chocalote before bed to help with the insomnia seems to work for me. The mind fog is a little debilitating and kinda fascinating in its own strange way. One thing that is very good is that my paranoia is gone. I got to the point that I would not leave my house except to visit my dealer or smoking buddies. I look forward to being clean and reentering society. I quit for a few months over the summer but started up again. That first hit was wonderful but the paranoia was insane. I spent the night waiting for the police to kick in my door. Any time a car drove by I had to jump up and look out the window. I think knowing that that will happen again the next time I light up will prevent it. I also smoke tobacco. I am not even going to try and quit both at the same time. Maybe in a month or two. I have noticed in my case that my tobacco use has dropped off significantly. Roughly 50%. While reading some of the other post I noticed some of the withdrawl symptoms mentioned were symptoms I had while smoking. Heart Palpitations, Left arm Pain and sweating palms and feet. My feet got very bad I was worried they were going to rot off. I figured these symptoms were due to the carbon monoxide in the smoke. I too have done the hypocondriac thing with guesses of everything from lead poisioning to bipolar disorder. One withdrawl symptom that is really driving me nuts is an extreme sensativity to noise. its mildly painful. Loud noises make me cringe. Hopefully this will pass soon. Thanks for the web site it helps.

Dirk Hanson said...

"I got to the point that I would not leave my house except to visit my dealer or smoking buddies."
Very familiar response: "If everyone would just leave me alone to smoke in peace my life would be perfect."

"One withdrawl symptom that is really driving me nuts is an extreme sensativity to noise. its mildly painful. Loud noises make me cringe."
Again, a familiar reaction: Noises are too loud, the room is too hot, the food is tasteless, people are irritating...actually the noise thing is called hyperacusis--intolerance to normal environmental sounds. It too will pass.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I'm having some severe symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, only problem is i'm still smoking. I can barely eat or sleep or concentrate. My ears are really sensitive to noise my eyes cringe at the site of bright lights. I'm filled with this constant anxiety. I'm considering quitting marijuana but i'm very scared that if I do, i'll go mad. Has anyone ever used anti anxiety meds and/or antidepressants to combat all the symptoms of quitting?

Anonymous said...

I wish i read this before i stoped smoking MJ.
I would never stop, but i finaly had enough of me sitting behind PC all day doing nothing just rolling and rolling,not even knowing how many i smoked a day(yes before it was parties,friends etc)alone maybe a friend joining in.Well im in my 40is and been smoking since i was 16,but last 5 years like a ciggarets(nonstop)i was NUMB to my wife and son,hardly went to visit my parents again i preffered to stay at home and smoke few,my wife told me on many occasions that i smoke to much8(shutup)yes darling i know,but i like it..was my answer.So i sad to my self lets stop and try the other side of coin,i get nervues when i dont have weed so i made sure to have some in case of .....
Day 1 WOOW wtf am i thinking,why am i sweating and beeing cold in same time,angry as hell,sad as hell,no problem going to sleep but i woka up 100s times wet-hot-cold
Day 2 sobing as a baby,fast heart rate,bad thinking,quilt
Day 3 backheadache,hopeless,bad mude,wrong thinking,anxiety,fear
Day 4 went to sauna,took some vitamines,still bad mind,fast heart rate,fear of ?????

Tomorrow is my day 5 i have no cravings, cos i cant go trough day 1 or 2 ever again in my life...
ITS REAL and im glad people share it, i was on the edge to go to mental instit.

Dirk Hanson said...

"cos i cant go trough day 1 or 2 ever again in my life..."

That's exactly how I felt when I finally quit cigarettes, and it remains a powerful motivational influence--don't ever wanna go through anything like that again...

bruce said...


Unknown said...

13 days dry. Never been a heavy user of MJ. (once or twice a week) but steady over the past 20 years or so. JEEZ LOUEEZE! Testy, crying, offended easity, yelling at my partner, exploding uncontrollably, tossing and turning, weird there an end in sight here?!

Dirk Hanson said...

There is. Check out the posts here:

Anonymous said...

The title of this article is ridiculous. Anyone who is having trouble quitting marijuana must be smoking something other than the best -- and it probably has something mixed in with it. If you want to quit marijuana, just replace it with chocolate and then quit eating chocolate. Quitting smoking took me 12.5 years! Thanks to the e-Cig, I was able to quit entirely. I make my own herbal "smoke juice" (aka fog machine formula) without any nicotine. It helped me quit tremendously. I don't even inhale it anymore.

Anonymous said...

I smoke up to 1-2 grams sometimes up to 4 depending on the day, everyday always backy cut (around 60% bud and 40% tobacco). I also smoke ciggys. Marijuana does not course withdrawal symptoms to the scale of most other drugs and is many physiological. As in its in your head you cant sleep etc. I pop back up to 10 5mg dextro-amphetamine pillz a night and I can still manage to get to sleep even without the use of marijuana, Which if anything will course ACTUAL withdrawal symptoms not this bullshit Im reading about "Marijuana withdrawal rivals nicotine"... No body else find that a little messed up? I know from years of use with both drugs (on and off) that that little sentence doesn't quite make sense at least not to me..

Anonymous said...

I'm currently on day 5 of cutting cigarettes out of my life cold turkey, I've been smoking the past year and have developed a routine of smoking 2-3 cigarettes a day. I've also smoked cannabis prior to starting cigarettes and have stopped multiple times for long periods of time and have never "craved" smoking cannabis the way I did cigarettes. I'm not sure how people can say with a straight face that stopping cannabis use is just as hard as stopping the use of nicotine, because it doesn't even come close. What I'm experiencing right now can be described as mental anguish, my head feels like it's about to burst apart and I KNOW for a fact that having a cig is a sure way to end the pain. Pain, from just trying to stop smoking cigarettes, never once have I experienced anything like this when stopping cannabis use, just staring at the title of this article spews with horseshit.

Dirk Hanson said...

I'm sorry you are confused about the article. It does not say that pot withdrawal is harder than nicotine for EVERYBODY. And your personal experience? A single data point--doesn't prove anything. I always thought that was obvious, but it's clear to me now that people really DO believe that their reaction to a drug must by EVERYONE'S reaction to a drug. I have no idea how such erroneous thinking took hold.

Anonymous said...

I am a 40 yr old female who has smoked pot for over twenty years and have tried to give up twice in the last two yrs. Once for 6 months and for 3 months. I have failed each time when i have had a joint at a party and wham straight back at it. I now realise that im an addict as in i can not choose to smoke i have to smoke. The amounts are rediculous a quarter a week min of bud. I have completely intergrated it into my life starting when i wake up to when i go to sleep. I stopped cold 4 days ago and experience the following symptoms: No appetite (today 1 bowl of soup in 24 hrs). No sleep but so tired i can not stay up. Feeling paranoid and ready for an argument.
But most of all its near the end of day 4 and im delighted that tomorrow will be day 5 and i have a vallium for tonight so hoping for a good night sleep. Good luck for those who want to give up if it is a problem for them like me and well done to those who can smoke and get on with their lives.
ps I also have increased my alcohol consumption each time i have given up from zero to several shots per night.

Anonymous said...

I am a 46 year old who has been smoking regularly since the age of 18. Let me tell you, withdrawl is REAL! I cannot begin to tell you how awful I feel, I just spent 2 weeks on vacation up north and the symptoms started at about day 4. Several nausea, loss of appetite, cannot sleep, crazy dreams, nervous "twitches" all over my body, and then about a week in, heart palpitations and chest pain! Driving down the road, coming back from New York, ended up at an Acute Care place because of the overall feeling of AWFULNESS and dull, aching chest pains. They took my vitals and immediately sent me to the ER, where they kept me overnight and did a bunch of test, EKG, chest X-ray, blood work. No sign of heart attack, but no "cause and effect" to why I was feeling the way I did. I talked to the ER physician and told him about the marijuana usage, and he explained alot of people are going through this nowadays, because of the rise of the potency of pot in the last 5 years, and even his own 19 year old son was having problems getting off of it! So, today is exactly 21 days since I've smoked, and I'm on my way to the doctor this afternoon for a stress test, the chest pains are still there, I have lost 17 lbs in 21 days and the nervous twitches have not gone away! If I pass the stress test, the next doctor with be a neurologist, but for anyone who says marijuana addiction is not REAL, trust me, it is VERY real. I cannot wait for the day that I start feeling better and get over this, I just hope I don't have any other REAL problems that is being excaserbated by my cold turkey quitting, but I knew it was something I had to do. Everyone say a prayer for me and wish me luck today!

Anonymous said...

37 year old male, active runner (25+ miles a week or more if I'm training for a marathon) and I'm on day 5, cold turkey, of quitting some very high quality sativas and nicotine - yes, at the same time. The nicotine I've quit many times, stayed off it for months, then would gradually return to what I thought was high use and would quit again. It's the herb I miss. I smoked, ate, or vaporized about 10 to 20 times a day. (Who's counting at that point?) The first 3 days of quitting I ran 8miles a day so I would be able to eat and sleep. Forget it. I felt hungry but the moment I put food in my mouth I wanted to gag. Sleep was broken into what felt like jagged breaks of half dreams, wrestling with the pillows/sheets, nausea/thirst in the middle of the night and some serious anger issues. But I know I'm going to be fine. The exercise does help and on the 4th day I had a deep tissue massage which worked wonders for today. Two ancient maxims have helped when read together:


We are all different so use your own self knowledge to determine your status


This is the one I seem to have a problem with...

The real reason I'm trying to quit is to try and save my relationship with the girl. I read somewhere a decade ago that "marijuana replaces love". I didn't believe it at first but I ask myself why I seem to think about that statement so much...

thanks for this site. Good Fortune to you all.

LIAMOT said...

When I smoke pot I mix it with tobacco to make it last longer and I prefer the taste. The thing is that I didn't smoke cigarettes at all; only used them for mix. So when I decided to come off pot I was not surprised by the feeling of withdrawal I was having. I assumed it was the nicotine and spent many sleepless, sweaty nights getting over it.

Well as time passes I was not feeling great, contrary to what some say quiting pot is not like stepping through some magical door where everything is better. The problems that added up over the 14 years of drug abuse were still there just now there was no escape from them. Eventually I told myself that I could just smoke a bit and before long I was right back into it.

This time when I decided to quit I decided to keep smoking cigarettes so I would not have to deal with the withdrawal that I dealt with the first time I quit. Well I was in for a surprise.............the nicotine did NOTHING for me, I had all the same withdrawal symptoms I had the first time and I would still feel them while smoking and after smoking a cigarette.

I am still going through this attempt at quitting, but it's extremely hard to do. The thing is that I enjoy smoking weed, the problem is that I can't do it in moderation. I bought a quarter last week and it was gone within the week. I'm sitting here at work now feeling withdrawal and a headache from smoking too many cigarettes.

I know that it will pass in a few weeks but there is no doubt to me that these symptoms are real and physical. (cosidering I thought it was the nicotine I was addicted to and I was really shocked when smoking it did nothing for me.

Anonymous said...

im on day 7 of quitting pot after 10 yrs...definitely having heart palpitations... anxiety... head ache ...the vein in my head is popping out....dry mouth nasal drip...constipation...fatigue...muscle twitches...irritability...neck soreness...i can feel every hair on my body moving ...and a whole slew of other symptoms..

i think quitting marijuana is definitely related to quitting cigarettes especially since my vehicle for smoking has been a blunt dutch ect..and they are made of tobacco...

my cure is.... to drink a whole load of water to flush the system... and a Gatorade to keep the electrolytes up...take your daily vitamins...and fiber pills keep you pooping real good..drink ensure(meal in a bottle) if u have no appetite...remember food and water...that's it!!!!no substitute substances like caffeine and other drugs you'll end up withdrawing from....

swimming is a good exercise because its very subtle...i think of it as physical therapy....this helps release endorphins...also get some sunlight...and sleep as much as you can...its definitely helping me...

Anonymous said...

Now I can't really comment on MJ addictiction. I have never been addicted to it nor do I believe it is addictive (wait for it...don't write me off yet). The ONLY reason I regret smoking pot in the first place is that I smoked it with tobacco and as pot supplies dried up, the hunger still lingered and I was a cigarette smoker for a further 7 years til just over a week ago. Nicotine addiction is nasty. The worst part of it is misunderstanding. People say "smoking calms me" (no it doesn't, it attacks the nerves and makes you less able to deal with stress), "Smoking helps me to think" (nah, carbon monoxide clogs the blood vessels and starves them of oxygen, meaning your brain gets less) and these are some of the myths that people confuse themselves with and which make it so hard to stop. Don't get me wrong, nicotine withdrawal is annoying, but not as bad as they make out. I would say in most cases one of the following would be true:
1) You smoke MJ+tobacco. By giving up one you give up the other and the nicotine addiction (the 'true' addiction imo) kicks at you when you aren't prepared.
2) You smoke MJ for such a long time that your lungs fill up with crap. This means when you quit your lungs start repairing themselves i.e. all sorts of stuff comes out, you feel bad and assume it's because you've stopped smoking, so you feel stressed and go back to it.
3) You aren't really intending to quit, you say shit like "I'm trying to give up" instead of "I am giving up". I did that and surprise surprise it didnt work. Take the leap, remove temptation by getting rid of your smokes, choose a time for one final smoke and when you stub that bad boy out, you will get such a kick out of it that withdrawal won't matter so much, because you feel strong for having done it. Keep that feeling, keep it strong and soon you will no longer need to put a cig/joint in your mouth any more than you need to stick a lit match into your ear.

I smoked roughly 10 cigs a day, and only smoked green every so often, so you might say "how would you know what it's like to give up pot after 5/10/20/40 years of heavy usage?!" and you know what? I don't. I can only share any knowledge I have but something which has been invaluable to me in giving up tobacco is one simple premise.....don't believe everything you read. People who say "giving up tobacco/pot is hard as your body will respond like this..." might have insight into it, they may have gone through it themselves....however everyone (and their minds and bodies) is different so please bear that in mind and don't take everything as the truth.

Good luck to anyone wishing to quit smoking the evil weed (in which I mean tobacco) and remember "The only person who can make you smoke the next one is you".

Anonymous said...

I highly highly recommend 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking' by Allen Carr. If you are not a reader you can listen, as I did, to audio tapes. He doesn't get you to change your smoking habits, but just asks you to listen. I was thrilled to give up cigarettes by the end of the book, had no side-effects, didn't get fat, and didn't need replacement therapy (which is just another mental trap of believing your missing a pleasure. He has a 90% success rate (higher than ANY other method of quitting), and won't make money for the government in patches or pills etc, which is likely why you've never heard of him! The real enemy of stopping is the mental addiction and the ingrained and incorrect belief that it is difficult. It's not our fault we believe this - the whole of society seems to think it (see the rest of this column for details). That is certainly not meant to be patronising, as I repeatedly tried (and miserably failed) to stop via will power and replacement. So did Allen Carr and as he says, you've got NOTHING to lose. May he rest in peace cos he's changed my life from beyond the grave, and if one person reading this column tries via his method then I can pass on that gift.

However, having said that I have just quit smoking cannabis (about a week ago) and feel like death! I'm insanely thirsty, feverish, having mood swings, blasted energy levels, horrendous travelling headaches and bursting into tears at embarassing moments. Plus I'm light and sound sensitive, restless and being bombared by utterly bizare dreams. Today my 89 year old grandmother out shopped me! I should be ashamed of myself. Never smoking anymore of that crap again. Can't wait until the sh*t is out my system. Yet there are people who still believe weed is harmless. A week ago I would have agreed. Now I know better...and I wasn't a heavy cannabis smoker - just a regular one. Here's to anyone else in the same boat as me. Drink as much water as you can (you've spent most of your smoking life being thirsty), and be POSITIVE. The moment you put that cigarette down, celebrate the fact that you are a non-smoker. Look to the future that you've just made infinitely better for yourself. I'm keeped focused on the raised energy, clear skin, non-headache ridden world of substance free life. If I can do it after 20 years, ANYONE CAN. Blessed be xxx

Anonymous said...

I have become a daily MJ user for about a year from several years of casual use and the result is that I am about to lose everything.

Day 3 of cold turkey and I feel like death, going to the doctor today to get something for my mood swings as I almost destroyed my life yesterday through depression and delusional thoughts.

I was heading to the airport to just run away from my life. The problem I am having is getting my head to think straight so I can find the strength to get through this, not eating or sleeping either and constantly battling thoughts of smoking again, should I or shouldnt I... just one more...

Successful at life and work in the past, I have withdrawn from people and society, I hate my work now and its so behind and Im just so lost... just want to quit everything, I am hurting the people that care about me and I really dont want to lose everything!

Really want to return to normal again and down the track quit smoking which I have taken back up 3 months ago, I became readdicted through mixing MJ and tobacco...

Im better than all this shit! MJ destroys lives and prevents you from living to your true potential.

To those who think MJ is harmless, go get a reality check!

To those who are going through hell, I pray you all find the strength

Thankyou for this website... Bless

To all those who think MJ withdrawal symptoms arent real, THEY havent got a clue!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article ... added reader

Anonymous said...

Ok. Ive read alot of comments & I am one of the unlucky ones that has had withdrawal from quitting weed. I quit the habit cold turkey Sept 24th 2010 & its now Dec 13 ! I've had every withdrawal from three terrible panic attacks, hellish anxiety & depression (from feeling like i'll never be normal again) vivid dreams, and basically just not feeling motivated to do anything. I really must have messed up my brain's reward center. I smoked pretty heavy for about a year and three months. Is it normal that I'm still having this terrible anxiety almost three months in? What is the longest I could feel this withdrawal? I thought I'd feel better after a month, but its been so long since I've been able to feel good. My dc has prescribed me xanax, but I've only taken one pill during an attack. I dont want to get addicted to anything ever again.

Anonymous said...

It is 10 times easier if you taper. If you smoke 4 times a day then switch to 2 times a day for a week. Then to 1 time day (right before bed)...then gradually move the one hit earlier and earlier before bed.

Then finally quit.

The reason MJ is hard to quit is the half life is so long. It stay's in your body for a long time which completely slows the brain receptor / neurotransmitter rebalance.

If you really want to speed the process up to a single week I have one option for you, but you will have to have strong will power the first 2 days.

Juice fast. No food for the first 7 day's of quitting. After the second day every bit of energy your body has goes into neuro repair...and the hunger is completely gone and you will feel awesome when you wake up.

Yes It's extreme, but it will eliminate the withdrawals in a single week. It will force your body to begin burning fat a lone for energy by the third day and this will result in speeding up the elimination of canabis from your body....keep exercising while you fast. If you don't exercise then start some cardio WHILE you fast. It's not bad for you. Take your vitamns, but avoid food that will turn on your bodies digestion enzymes and cause hunger.

I've done it several way's and the fast is the best. Water fast works faster, but it's need to take off work for the first 3 day's of a water fast combined with an MJ fast.

Good Luck everyon.

BTW I stil smoke weed. I like it. When I get out of hand I quit for a while and regain interest in life.


Anonymous said...

I'm having cannabis withdrawal right now, after smoking a shitload of strong weed for about 3 years (10+ bong hits a day).

My main symptoms:
- severe insomnia
- irritability
- constant headaches
- increased anxiety
- vivid dreams at night
- sleep is not refreshing
- difficulty concentrating
- bags under my eyes
- reduced appetite
- reduced interest in sex

I quit a week ago, and I still feel like shit. I feel like a zombie on meth. Although I'm tired all day, managing to sleep is very difficult, and I often wake up with vivid dreams after a few hours, feeling tired and exhausted, unable to get any more sleep. Herbs didn't help. 4-6 hours is the max I can sleep a day now, woke up at 2 AM today. I also had some nightmares in the past week (haven't had any in the earlier years).

So yes folks, marijuana withdrawal after heavy use is very real... (I wish it wasn't). And it feels like shit, I can tell you.

Anonymous said...

I'm having cannabis withdrawal right now, after smoking a shitload of strong weed for about 3 years (10+ bong hits a day).

My main symptoms:
- severe insomnia
- irritability
- constant headaches
- increased anxiety
- vivid dreams at night
- sleep is not refreshing
- difficulty concentrating
- bags under my eyes
- reduced appetite
- reduced interest in sex

I quit a week ago, and I still feel like shit. I feel like a zombie on meth. Although I'm tired all day, managing to sleep is very difficult, and I often wake up with vivid dreams after a few hours, feeling tired and exhausted, unable to get any more sleep. Herbs didn't help. 4-6 hours is the max I can sleep a day now, woke up at 2 AM today. I also had some nightmares in the past week (haven't had any in the earlier years).

So yes folks, marijuana withdrawal after heavy use is very real... (I wish it wasn't). And feels like shit, I can tell you.

Dirk Hanson said...

That about covers it.

Anonymous said...

Update 3 days later: I thought it won't get worse. I was wrong. I started feeling more sick, my appetite got even worse. I could only eat soup or some light snacks, I could hardly force down any heavy food. I felt ill, and the mental effects became even more horrible - I was sitting there at 3 AM totally exhausted, after 2 hours of sleep, feeling uneasy, my body and mind both totally messed up. At this point, I felt at the verge of madness, starting to hate everything, feeling anger and hatred towards everything and everyone, being totally drained, exhausted, and hopeless.

Of course, my girlfriend knew this earlier - when I smoked, I was the kindest lover, but when I stopped smoking, I often became an angry, irritated asshole. Looking back now, I feel sorry for her, causing her so much stress. Actually, this was one of the reasons why I quit.

In the past days, I tried the following herbs, none of which helped to sleep: lemongrass, valeriana, lavender, hops, damiana. At this state of mind, I did not feel like doing excercise, but I tried to force myself to do at least a half hour of jogging every day. Didn't help either...

The only thing that helped was GBL (which is nearly identical to GHB) - it put me to a sleepy, euphoric state for a few hours (and then, the misery came back again, of course). Since it has it's own addictive potential and nasty withdrawal, I used that only as a last resort when I really felt I have no hope for managing to sleep.

Since I'm a musician and I'll be having a gig in 3 days, I felt that in this state of mind, there's no way I could stand in front of an audience, and perform. So my final decision was to smoke some some weed again, to ease the withdrawal symptoms somewhat, at least to the point where I could function somewhat normally. It seemed to help, my appetite come back a little (but not fully), and the GBL + weed combo put me to sleep finally. After going through all this misery, I would no way want to relapse back to chronic smoking, so probably my strategy will be to smoke just as much to make me able to function normally, and then taper off slowly. It's just unbearable.

I never could have imagined earlier that cannabis can have such withdrawal symptoms. With caffeine withdrawal, you just have a bad headache, become irritated and sleep for a few days, and after a week, you're over it. With cannabis, it took more than a week for the withdrawal symptoms to even fully develop. It's a long, hard, tiring, miserable state, but I already feel that it's very well worth going through it!! I'm sure my life will be a lot better after I'm finally over this. So, never give up!

Dirk Hanson said...

Yeah in a way, potheads get a raw deal. It takes a LONG time to excrete THC, which stretches out the possible arc of withdrawal symptoms...

Anonymous said...

Yep, I think the long half-life of THC is the main reason why the withdrawal is sooo long. I think also that's why many people don't realize that withdrawal exists - they smoke again, before the withdrawal symptoms could really develop.

So, if I haven't said already, big thumbs up for your blog! You have lots of valuable information, and collection of related studies, and I wish more people knew about it. But, in the current political climate, it's very hard to get these accepted. I find very strong opposition from smoker communities here locally, when I talk about cannabis addiction or withdrawal. I'm sure they're also afraid that this kind of information can and will be used for political agenda, in the wrong hands. We have a very conservative government here (with one of the strictest drug laws in Europe, stupid christians...), so it's not easy. When I talk about negative effects, addiction or withdrawal, many people automatically assume that it's anti-drug propaganda, and they think it's just made up, or think that it's false because there aren't many well-known studies to support it. But those are my real experiences - I support legalization fully, just like you, but they still think I'm a propagandist.

Dirk Hanson said...

I've lost track of the number of times I've been called a lackey of the DEA.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dirk, I have a challenge for you. Go read the book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" and take up their $50,000 challenge. Since this small study clearly states "facts" you should have no problem disproving at least 1 claim in that book.

Anonymous said...

quitting pot is hard, so when you do quit do not forget that it is hard. Especially when your body and mind are tripping balls. Always remember to be patient with your self during this duration. I am 2 weeks into my own mess of smoking for years and quitting. Many things can occur, Panic attacks, Heart Palpitations, lack of sleep, real real real vivid dreams. By day 5 I called 911 and told them "I think that I am having a heart attack." Pretty much I was. Heart beat was 140 bpm, and heart palpitations (which I was only getting once on evening) were occuring about every 4 minutes. this lasted for hours before I called 911.

Remember when you first started smoking pot. Think of all the wierd that happened. Extreme parinoya. Sleeping with heavy R.E.M. sleep. I remember telling someone I was to "High" to even call a pizza guy.

So when you stop smoking after years of it, you get a BIG smack in the face with the opposite effects.

The best part about the whole thing, is that you do get better after you stop. Anxiety starts to subside. Heart palpitations subside, anger, depresion, lack of social interactions, lack of good jobs (drug testing), lack of confidance,...... these things all go away.

I'm 2 weeks into my withdrawel from pot. My anxiety attacks are shrinking in size. Women are noticing my confidance. I am contacting old friends and telling them what was happening to me for so long. Right now, I've got tears of Joy (quite literally) My vocabulary is increasing. I am proud of my self. I am proud of anyone who is going through withdrawel. It means they made a decision to stop that BS drug.

Many more negative effects might happen when you are going through withdrawel.... Be patient with your self.... it does more than get better.... Have fun when you get through this. Remember that you are not going to die. In fact, you are about to fully live agian. Your lungs do regenerate.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what causes so called 'withdrawal' symptoms from Marijuana may be exacerbated by the vary factors that cause heavy use in the first place. Anything you use to self medicate when anxious/bored/depressed/unable to sleep that is suddenly taken away will cause a whole myriad of symptoms simply due to the nature of its use. Also to the people who have posted citing the responses on this forum as evidence of marijuana withdrawal it is a self selecting sample based on the title of the article and cannot be given as evidence in an argument. It only provides anecdotal reports for further study. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should check out L-tyrosine, 5htp, and melatonin. Read up on them yourself and use them safely - in most cases they will help quite a bit. Don't underestimate their power and stick to your dosing schedule carefully noting any adverse reactions and adjusting dosage as it takes a week or two to feel the full effects.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for what you are feeling, my life partner is going through the same thing and it is so horrible to see the one you love to go through this

Anonymous said...

I Quit Ciggs with Pot!

MarcomTEK said...

Great blog, trying to see if my heart palpitations would be from pot withdrawal, day 14 yahoo! I quit both cigs and pot at the same time. I am miserable, almost wanted to kill myself and nearly broke up with a 15 year relationship. What worried me most was the heart palpitations, drove to the hospital but never went in. I hope this doesn't last too long. I have a hard time doing things like dishes, cleaning, etc but I walk a lot with my dog, that helps. Today I had to look in several stores for valerian because I was drinking sleepytime tea in heavy heavy doses and it wasn't helping. Found some valerian in the health food store and I must say it has saved me today, as the heart racing was unbearable. It calmed it down right away so I will keep taking valerian caps until these darn palps go away. Also throat pain, puffy eyes, vivid dreams, night sweats, constipation and irritated beyond belief.

MarcomTEK said...

Pot is addictive no doubt about it. Irritable, angry, almost broke up a 16 year relationship, thought of killing myself, vivid dreams, night sweats, constipation, lack of appetite, lethargy, depression and the worst of all heart palpitations. Drove to emerg but didn't go in. Drank sleepytime tea in high doses but the only thing that's helped the heart thank goodness is valerian capsules I got at the health food store. I also quit cigs at the same time. My throat is sore, my moods are a mess. I hope i doesn't last that long, I'm day 14. I also go to NA meetings and joined a forum for marijuana addicts. Thanks goodness I know about the 12 step program because I find meetings really help alot. Pot is a drug. Simple.

Ronny said...

Just thought I'd give a counter argument of sorts. I'm 33, Bipolar and somewhat of a loser. I did no drugs, never drank or anything until I hit about 31 or so, this spring I figured I'd give MJ a shot, as alcohol is kind of useless to me other than giving me a buzz and making me not care about being miserable the times when I'm depressed due to the bipolar disorder. Anyhows, MJ has been the most effective medicine for bipolar disorder I've EVER tried. By a large margin, even. The way I see it now, should I get addicted to MJ that would be fine, because for the first time in 15-20 years I function somewhat like a "normal person". I know I might have an addictive personality, because sugar is a habit I've had trouble kicking since forever. I don't particularly like candy, either, it doesn't give me anything, but I crave it. I've stopped eating sugar after I started vaping weed, and because of that I've lost 9 kilos in about 5 months. Started at 84(quite fat), now at 75(I can now see my penis when lying on my back). This would be completely unthinkable was it not for the weed. I don't know if the fact that I waited til adulthood will do my any favors, but I'm thinking it might. I know that I would never let my kids (have none, will never have, but hypothetically) do any form of drug until adulthood, it's just too big of a choice to make when you're a scrawny moron running around all pimply faced. Not sure how I'd stop them from doing drugs, but being WAY more open than our parents were would probably be a good thing. Knowledge is NEVER bad.

A few of the things that make MJ worth it to me:
A: A sense of calm, one that lingers much longer than the high. Very soothing, kind of smooths out the rough edges of my bipolar symptoms (bipolar 2, rapid cycling so my mood is all over the place, constantly)
B: A way to knock me out of mood slumps when I feel them creeping in (have long lasting depressions that knock me on my ass for months at a time, especially during the winter. September/october will be the big test for MJ in my case)
C: I'm on welfare because of my bpd, so my days are pretty docile, MJ has given me the needed energy to actually do stuff and the life spark.. enthusiasm or inspiration needed to get ut of bed without going "Another motherfucking day.. Just.. fucking brilliant.. *sigh*"

Those things don't even include the high, which has it's own benefits most of us in here already know about.

Hard for me to conclude anything after such a short time, but so far it's been pretty overwhelming how much it's improved my life. It has taken me from having no life or desire to live what so ever.. To being just a guy who likes being alive. Not manic, not depressed, not mixed state or anything, just very stable (for a bipolar dude) and .. I don't know.. I really do feel way more mellow and less prone to hissy fits and all that bullcrap most depressed/bipolar/ADD/ADHD people experience frequently.

Sorry about the lengthy post, just needed to pitch in. Also, don't take this as criticism towards any of you guys in here trying to quit. I have no doubt it's tricky, after all, I have problems quitting sugar.. So yeah..

I wish you the best of luck :)

Anonymous said...

Im going through the same thing, im worried. It feels like this new life is so far from bareable its a joke. Its honestly like being on auto pilot. Will it end? Or is this a permanent effect for life? Im 19

Anonymous said...

Finally some positivity. Why are people trashing eachother on here? We all share the same problem.

Anonymous said...

I can mirror your story down to the word. The hypochondriac part especially applys. I never knew that all these people had the same problems. I.e heart chest head and neck problems. Its really assuring to have forums like this

Dirk Hanson said...

See also 1,100 comments on my other post on marijuana withdrawal:

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list. 20 years of daily usage. Started very slowly, like a few hits at night. Eventually was smoking almost all day, still far less of an amount than other people I had seen but enough to stay stoned all day long. Made everything more interesting. Provided inspiration for certain creative tasks, etc..

But I always found it a delicate balance between a positive experience and a negative one. I would often experience paranoia, and over time I felt more and more physical effects like chest pain. At a certain point it was basically guaranteed to result in a panic attack, but ... believe it or not, it still seemed better than being completely sober.

I had pretended to want to quit in the past but never really was going to, until recently when the chest pain plus other aches and pains was all I could think about while stoned, so I finally decided to quit. My symptoms are exactly the same as others have described.

- palpitations
- fatigue
- foggy thinking. inability to concentrate
- inability to sleep more than a few hours at a time (I wake up at 2 AM almost every single morning)
- inability to get back to sleep until several hours later (usually 6 or so. thankfully i haven't had to go to work during this time. i wouldn't have been able to)
- depression, and "bad thoughts". i have experienced both in the past but they came flooding back quickly
- lack of motivation, although if I can force myself to get started on tasks, sometimes the ball gets rolling and the day passes before you know it
- fluctuations in appetite and digestion
- recurrence of some of the exact same nightmares/terrors that I had decades ago. so weird.
- a feeling of being overwhelmed by the reality of life, and the amount of time (and money) that i have wasted

So far I am compensating by drinking more. I have also been a daily drinker since around the same age and I will need to confront that demon at some point in the future (in the beginning, pot helped moderate the drinking, but then they just became BFF's), but for now it helps me get through the day without sitting and staring at the wall.

Forums like this have been immensely helpful, so thanks for all who have contributed. It would be nice, however, to hear more stories about those who have gotten past this stage, and to know that things like heart palpitations eventually go away. As for those who doubt the fact that marijuana can cause withdrawal symptoms, I disagree. I still think it should be up to the individual to decide, and no one should be thrown in jail for deciding to partake, but they should do so knowing that it is not a "harmless" activity as so many claim. It leaves a mark, and it's a difficult, frightening process to get through.

All the best to you who have made the choice to quit. This is one battle that we are all definitely in together. Sorry for the lengthy post and all the best.

Anonymous said...

All drugs create the exact same symptoms when one is in the initial stages of withdraw.

What makes them different is determined by their severity.

Tobacco withdraw is far more intense than marijuana withdraw; therefore, I don't quite get the point of this article?

Surely, the "scientists" would have been aware of this fact.

Anonymous said...

I smoked cannabis 7 times a day for 6 years, i have quit for 5 days. I am experiencing cold sweats, sweaty feet and hands, heat flash on bottom of my left foot near middle toes and palm, fast dizzy visual perception, body aches mainly near back of neck under head and wrists, panic attacks(minor), anxiety, cannot sleep till 4 or 5am, heart flutters or increase rate of beat for few seconds or a minute, Irritability, snappy, hate certain sounds or frequencies, vivid dreams, nausea the first 2days especially the first, loss of appetite, dizziness. The Withdrawals are very real, but they only serve to solidify my choice on quitting it for good. Just very uncomfortable lol

Unknown said...

plz check out NA(Narcotic annonymous)group in your city for help.....btw i am a recovering addict(clean date oct 29,2011)

Anonymous said...

Eating fresh marijuana for five months - the mature female plant, helped me quit taking seroquel, codeine, dexedrine and also helped me to stop smoking marijuana - all with very minimal withdrawal. The fresh marijuana plant manages my bipolar and fibromyalgia and I remain medication free. I was never able to quit any of those things easily (trust me, I tried and went through insane withdrawals - the worst was the antidepressants) until I started juicing fresh marijuana. I believe that endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome is what my problem has always been (depression all my life, manic break due to antidepressants). In order to stay healthy, I need to eat marijuana, just like my other fruits and vegetables. So, my suggestion for dealing with the withdrawal from smoking marijuana is to eat whole marijuana fresh (leaves, buds, stems) while tapering down amount of smoke.

Anonymous said...

I have read all your comments looking for an answer to all my symptoms. And everything you guys have, I have. I have been smoking since I was 45. I had anxiety so bad and my klonopin was useless. My son suggested I try marijuana. Oh what a difference it made! I was no longer anxious, I was mellow and calm for the first time since I could remember. And after smoking it for 9 years of course my tolerance built up, I started getting Sativa's and buying the good stuff at 100 dollars for 4 grams. I told myself I needed to back off and take a break because it took so much to get me high anymore. That is where it all hit the fan. Day one, no symptoms. Day two and on, I had anxiety, palpitations, extreme sweating, nausea, dry mouth, vivid dreams, recurring dreams, nightmares. I could sleep for hours and hours. It was being awake that was the worst part. It's been one week and that one week I have been through HELL!! I searched the internet over to find out what was causing all my symptoms, never did I think it was the withdrawal of weed! I thought I had low potassium or a number of things but it's withdrawal. I have many symptoms I don't know if I listed them all, headaches, inability to concentrate or stay focused, anger, aggressiveness, I didn't lose my appetite but it did go down quite a bit. I have drank water, nothing but water trying to flush it out of my system as fast as I can, but. . . it's still there. I still have lots of weed left. I don't have any idea what to do. One week down and I'm ready to start smoking again. I haven't yet. I know it gets easier as time goes by, but the heart palps scare me so bad! I don't have much racing but I have a lot of skipping or missed beats. I am going out today and treating myself to some ice cream and taking a nice ride to relax. To all of you who don't believe weed is addictive. Believe US! Read this forum. IT IS!! And I don't smoke cigarettes! Those were easy to quit. Not one problem. I smoked those for 10 years. Hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We all will get through this. I would love to hear back from those who quit and made it out. How do you feel now? Did you relapse? Did you succeed? Much love to you all. This is a hard battle and the worst nightmare you'll ever experience. But you can get through it. You can. Just keep pushing.

Dirk Hanson said...

Lots of people still don't get the fact that this can happen to certain smokers. They can see it's true with alcohol and other drugs but can't credit the possibility of serious withdrawal in the case of marijuana? Why? The answer is always the same: Because they smoke marijuana, and it hasn't happened to them. Yes, transient heart palps can be a symptom of withdrawal, and they can be scary and nasty. But bear in mind that they are generally considered to be harmless in otherwise healthy adults.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dirk. I am on day 11 and the palps are getting better. I still have them but much less. The night sweats are getting better. I have a continuous headache. Still dry mouth, focusing is getting better. So what it really boils down to, is things do get better over time. I am so glad I quit. I don't ever want to smoke again. Sure the high was fun. It kept me from being lonely. I had no friends and I didn't care. Now I see things differently. I was a recluse. I only left the house when I had to. I am 53 and I can see the difference and I surely can see all the years I wasted smoking weed. Thank you for making this thread to post on. It helped me understand just how addictive marijuana is along with my own withdrawal symptoms. This thread helped me find out that those were withdrawal symptoms and not some other illness. Most people have no idea just how addictive pot can be. I didn't until I tried to quit. I pray that people who are still smoking read this and quit, or never start. It wasn't a gateway drug for me thank goodness. But it was a very long lesson in my life. I am slowly coming to life, instead of sitting around in a stupor and that by itself is a treasure. You don't know you are missing life until you've missed it, staying stoned.

Unknown said...

Shoulder/ neck pain and itches and pain is in muscle is something I can relate to. I wonder why this happens. I thought I was dying from a disease.

Anonymous said...

This experience has been absolutely identical to mines. Even your fear of a (Real) problem I can sympathize with. I have found comfort in your experience.
I must ask though, do your chest pains feels like burning under your skin or at times like ants bites? And wat about the heart literally feels like it's choking from time to time?

Anonymous said...

I'm 6 days into a quit and I'm feeling normal again. The first 4 days was hell and I felt the worst anger and depression I had ever felt and the 5th day was not as bad as the first 4. Im not sure if it gets harder to quit the longer you smoke weed but I only smoked heavly for about 2 months before I decided to quit. If you want to quit just hang in there and keep your mind focused on not getting high the withdraw systems will end eventually. If you are having withdraw systems try taking deep relaxing breaths and think of something that makes you relax. A nice hot shower might help too. After it's all over you will feel great.

Brian said...

I've been smoking herb for 20 years with a handful of breaks. I'm on day 4 currently of my most recent commitment and the symptoms are familiar. There are major stress factors aside from this that are contributing to greater anxiety which is proving a challenge, but it seems that each day it gets slightly easier.

Anxiety; chest tremors; irrational thinking regarding health and the future; repeated hypnogogic jerks when laying down for sleep; irritability and easily offended by filling in blanks myself, frequent urination; clammy palms and feet; shortness of breath/chest tightness. All exacerbated by my increased tendency to ruminate (about the past/future) when in the middle of an active cannabis habit. As time passes into sobriety, my focus gradually returns more to the present moment which I find to be an important consideration when healing.

During my previous quitting episode when I stopped January 2017 (picked it back up in July because potato), I experienced severe sleep disturbances which included the hypnogogic jerks and feeling of doom/dread as I lay in bed. The dreams were incredibly vivid and not all of them disturbing (but many were). My bedsheets would be deeply soaked in sweat in a room with comfortable as usual climate settings. I'd slide over to the other side of my bed shivering intensely for awhile before warming up again, which brought out the anxiety anew. I try to breath with my belly, slowly in, filling the lungs from bottom to top with air and then doing the reverse to try to relax again. Realizing that my feelings are on a delay, I keep at it with as much patient as I can muster until the knot in my chest loosens gently.

One of the more distressing symptoms I wrestle with is the chest tightness/shortness of breath. For that, I boil a large pot of water, drape a towel over my head to capture the rising steam and breathe it for a minute or so. I wipe my face, take a break, then go back to the pot for another round, doing that 4-6 times in a session. It seemed to bring me relief, as well as calmed me down which helped to further release the clenching tension in my chest. You may cough up some sputum with grey/black flecks or maybe even a whole blob of grey/black. I haven't tried an herbal expectorant yet, but I'm betting that would help this along nicely. Gradually you begin to readjust to your natural pulmonary state.

I read research that states cannabis doesn't have the same effect of causing reduction in expulsion capacity as tobacco does to your lungs, although they may have suffered some hyperinflation, your wings should still have a similar capacity as before if you're strictly herb only.

The next more prominently unsettling symptom for me are hypnogogic jerks, and muscle twitches. These and the adrenaline that my body repeatedly releases into my body from all the anxiety, comprise my sleep disturbance triad. This time I've begun taking Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D in an attempt to address the muscle spasms and head off the fear fall-out. I'll have to report back on the results of this trial. My doctor prescribed some anti-anxiety medication: hydroxizine and alprazolam (xanax) to use in case I can't wrestle this beast to the ground. I've never used pharmaceuticals before during recovery; others may have better insights into their effectiveness at easing discomfort.

I joined a gym a couple months into my previous attempt earlier this year and got in pretty great shape lifting weights, calisthenics, and utilizing their steam room afterward to further help break up sputum/resin. All that movement shook up the lymphatic system (which has no circulatory mechanism like the heart for the vascular network so you have to push the lymph around with your own body movement). I assume this is why being consistently active is so important. Whether I adhere is another story. :)

I got through it last time, feeling great. I'm confident I'll enjoy a similar outcome this time.

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