Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marijuana Withdrawal: A Survey of Symptoms (Part 1)

By Dirk Hanson

[Originally published in The Praeger International Collection on Addictions. Ed. by Angela Browne-Miller. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2009. Vol. 2 Ch. 7 pp.111-124.]

(See also Marijuana Withdrawal Post)

More than 14 million Americans smoke marijuana regularly, making it the most commonly used illicit drug in America. In 2006, marijuana was the only drug used by 52.8 percent of illegal drug users (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006).

Over the past 15 years, as addiction researchers have been busily mapping out the chemical alterations in the human nervous system caused by alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, heroin, and tranquilizers, America’s most popular illegal drug has remained largely a scientific mystery. Marijuana, the drug millions of Americans have been using regularly for years, is the least studied drug of all.

Why has cannabis research lagged behind that of other drugs of abuse? For decades, the prevailing belief among users and clinical researchers alike was that marijuana did not produce dependency and therefore could not be responsible for major withdrawal symptoms. This thinking is based, quite understandably, on the widespread observation that most marijuana users do not have difficulty going without marijuana, either by choice or by necessity. However, marijuana withdrawal effects are 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 manifestations of cannabis withdrawal. As Barbara Mason, director of the Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology at Scripps Research Institute, has explained: “People are deciding every day whether to use or not to use marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise, and there is little scientific information to advise this decision” (2008).

Marijuana withdrawal, which typically affects only heavy smokers, has not been well characterized by the research community. Until recently, there was scant evidence in animal models for marijuana tolerance and withdrawal, the classic determinants of addiction. Now, however, several researchers have identified the existence of symptoms brought on by the abrupt discontinuation of regular marijuana use in both animal and human studies (de Fonseca et al., 1997, p. 2050). A growing body of evidence supports the existence of a clinically significant marijuana withdrawal syndrome in a subset of marijuana smokers. The syndrome is marked by irritability, restlessness, generalized anxiety, hostility, depression, difficulty sleeping, excessive sweating, loose stools, loss of appetite, a general “blah” feeling, and a mental state that has been described as “inner unrest.”

Recent clinical research, combined with anecdotal field reports collected by the author, demonstrate the existence of marijuana withdrawal and the consistency of the most common symptoms of withdrawal and detoxification.


In 1992, molecular biologists identified the elusive brain receptor where THC, the primary active ingredient in marijuana, did its work. Shortly after that discovery, researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem identified the body’s own form of THC, which uses the same CB1 receptors as THC. They christened the internally manufactured substance anandamide, after the Sanskrit ananda, or “bliss” (Fackelmann, 1993).

Anandamide has a streamlined three-dimensional structure that THC mimics. Both molecules slip easily through the blood brain barrier. Some of the mystery of marijuana’s effects was resolved after researchers demonstrated that marijuana definitely increased dopamine activity in the limbic area of the brain. Tanda, Pontieri, and Di Chiara demonstrated that dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens doubled when rats received an infusion of THC (1997, p. 2048). It appears that marijuana raises dopamine and serotonin levels through the intermediary activation of opiate and GABA receptors (Wilson & Nicoll, 2001, p. 588). THC may perform a signaling function in neurons containing GABA and glutamate.

THC and its organic cousin, anandamide, make an impressive triple play in the brain: They effect movement through receptors in the basal ganglia, they alter sensory perception through receptors in the cerebral cortex, and they impact memory by means of receptors in the hippocampus. It is clear that some of the effects of cannabis are produced in much the same way as the effects of other addictive drugs—by means of neurotransmitter alterations along the limbic system’s reward pathway.

A great deal of the early research was marred by inconsistent findings and differing definitions of addiction and withdrawal. Most recreational marijuana users find that too much pot in one day makes them lethargic and uncomfortable. Self-proclaimed marijuana addicts, on the other hand, report that pot energizes them, calms them down when they are nervous, or otherwise allows them to function normally. Heavy marijuana users claim that tolerance does build. And when they withdraw from use, many report strong cravings.

Work by Jones, Benowitz, and Herning had helped establish certain baseline symptoms—irritability, insomnia, and lack of appetite—as early as 1981 (p. 143). Studies by Budney, Novy, and Hughes in 1999 further outlined the syndrome in heavy daily marijuana smokers (p. 1311). But the abstinence effects were often inconsistent, and frequently hard to measure. Moreover, their clinical relevance was not always evident.

For marijuana withdrawal to be considered a clinical fact, several criteria had to be met. First, the typically transient pattern of withdrawal effects must be distinguishable from rebound effects. (A rebound effect is defined as the reappearance of a preexisting symptom, and is thus not considered a true withdrawal effect.) In addition, the symptoms must occur reliably, as demonstrated by comprehensive prospective studies (Budney, Hughes, Moore, & Vandrey, 2004, p. 1970). The symptoms under consideration must also be considered clinically significant. Finally, there needs to be a clear and repeatable timeline in evidence for the withdrawal effects.

It has been suggested that the reported symptoms of abrupt marijuana cessation do not rise to the level of withdrawal typically associated with drug detox. It is now possible to lay out the neurochemical basis of marijuana withdrawal, and to demonstrate that marijuana acts on the brain in a fashion similar to other addictive drugs.

There is solid experimental evidence that chronic, heavy cannabis users develop tolerance to its subjective and cardiovascular effects. “In summary,” Budney et al. write, “cannabis withdrawal effects clearly occur in the majority of heavy, daily users” (2004, p. 1974). As a rough estimate, approximately 10 percent of marijuana users are at risk for dependence and withdrawal, the classic determinants of drug addiction (Joy, Watson, & Benson, 1999, p. 92). There is clinical and epidemiological evidence that some heavy cannabis users experience problems in controlling their cannabis use, and continue to use the drug despite experiencing adverse personal consequences of use (Hall, Solowij, & Lemon, 1999). Moreover, there is strong clinical evidence that some users experience a withdrawal syndrome upon the abrupt cessation of cannabis use. The timeline is similar to withdrawal from other addictive drugs.

In 2004, a group at the University of Vermont, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), undertook a critical review of all major relevant studies of the validity and clinical significance of marijuana withdrawal (Budney et al., p. 1967). The review of studies demonstrated with certainty that there are people with a propensity for heavy marijuana use who suffer a clearly delineated, verifiable, and frequently vivid set of withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. One of the most striking pieces of evidence for this is the similarity of symptom sets emerging from the clinical studies to date. The most common “reliable and clinically significant” effects of abrupt withdrawal in heavy pot smokers, according to the University of Vermont research group, included “severity of craving and sleep difficulty, decreased appetite, and increased aggression, anger and irritability” (Budney, Hughes, Moore, & Novy, 2001, p. 917; Kouri, 2002, p. 30).

As another study author concluded: “Marijuana withdrawal doesn’t include dramatic physical symptoms such as the pain, nausea, heavy sweating, and cramps associated with opiate withdrawal. Nevertheless, the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal appear clinically significant” (Zickler, 2002).

A recent comprehensive outpatient study (Kouri & Pope, 2000, p. 483) with prewithdrawal baselines showed greater levels of anxiety, negative mood, physical discomfort, and decreased appetite during abstinence but not at baseline, compared with two control groups. Moreover, in a “home environment” study, researchers worked with marijuana users who provided self-ratings during marijuana withdrawal; these users smoked an average of 3.6 times daily, did not use other drugs or abuse alcohol, and were free of major psychiatric disorders. The same symptoms predominated, and onset of symptoms occurred reliably within 48 hours of cessation. Moreover, “telephone interviews with collateral observers living with the participants confirmed participants’ reports of increased irritability, aggression, and restlessness during abstinence. . . . [T]he validation of symptoms by home-based observers suggested that the effects were of a clinically significant magnitude” (Budney et al., 2004, p. 1971).

Other studies by Budney and colleagues expanded on the list of symptoms that changed significantly from baseline during withdrawal: “anger and aggression, decreased appetite, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, shakiness, sleep difficulty, stomach pain, strange dreams, sweating, and weight loss” (2003, p. 393; 2004, p. 1972). Although most effects were transient, generally lasting no more than two weeks, “strange dreams and sleep difficulties showed significant elevations throughout the study” (2003). Budney et al. conclude that, since most symptoms returned to baseline levels in the former users, “these findings were not rebound effects indicative of symptoms that existed before the use of cannabis” (2004, p. 1972).

More recent studies by Haney and others “controlled for potential confounders by using placebo conditions and excluding persons who abused other substances, had an active psychiatric disorder, or were taking psychoactive medication” ().

Overall, the research cited above confirms that the most common marijuana withdrawal symptom is low-grade anxiety and dysphoria. Anxiety of this sort has a firm biochemical substrate. A peptide known as corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is primarily responsible. Neurologists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, found that CRF levels in the amygdalas of animals in marijuana withdrawal were as much as three times higher than the levels found in animal control groups (Wickelgren, 1997, p. 1967). Long-term marijuana use alters the function of CRF in the limbic system in a manner similar to other addictive drugs (de Fonseca et al., 1997, p. 2051). (CRF receptors in the amygdala also play a direct role in alcohol withdrawal.)


Personal observations and selected case histories of frequent marijuana users were gathered from anonymous, unedited comments posted on a blog site maintained by the author. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling have been normalized in the excerpts included here. Most of the people who have posted comments thus far (more than 100) arrived at the site by means of the search term marijuana withdrawal. This may indicate that a large number of posters are heavy smokers seeking information about abstinence symptoms. The popularity of this search phrase on the Google search engine seems to suggest an interest in, and a need for, scientific information about marijuana withdrawal.

What has surprised many observers is that the idea of treatment for marijuana dependence seems to appeal to such a large and diverse group of people. NIDA has been able to find a cohort of withdrawal-prone smokers with relative ease. According to the principal investigator of one NIDA marijuana study, “We had no difficulty recruiting dozens of people between the ages of 30 and 55 who have smoked marijuana at least 5,000 times. A simple ad in the paper generated hundreds of phone calls from such people” (NIDA, 1999). This would be roughly equivalent to 14 years of daily pot smoking.

Comments gathered from anonymous users at an open Web forum created for the discussion of marijuana withdrawal symptoms cannot be controlled for confounding variables such as other addictions or psychological disorders. The comment section of the Web site is open to anyone. What such surveys can accomplish, however, is the demonstration of parallels, or lack of them, between findings in an experimental setting and anecdotal reports from the field. Survey studies cannot offer indisputable proof. Nonetheless, when combined with the results of formal clinical studies, such surveys offer a window into real-world experience, thus complementing the growing scientific data concerning marijuana withdrawal syndrome.

The comments were generated in large part by heavy, regular smokers who either recognized or have begun to recognize in themselves an addictive propensity toward marijuana. As a group, they have great difficulty—and suffer similar symptoms—whenever, and for whatever reason, they choose to abstain.

Perhaps, most important, the present survey adds to the growing documentation of the contention that withdrawal symptoms are a frequent cause of relapse in marijuana smokers attempting to achieve abstinence.

Cont. in Part 2.


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Frugal Dougal said...

What a very interesting and informative article. Also very brave - in my last drug agency I would hear of client after client whose only illicit drug was cannabis, but we were still fielding calls from folk telling us that there was no withdrawal syndrome.

Adi Jaffe said...

This is a great, comprehensive, post about marijuana. As I'm sure you know, every post like this brings along with it endless cries off conspiracy from pro-legalization folks. That's why I'd like to tip my hat to you. When I write about MJ, I have to deal with the onslaught of comments decrying that I'm a government implant sent to lie to the masses.

I think I'll repost this on my site ;-)

Dirk Hanson said...

Thanks both of you for the supportive comments. I do get thumped sometimes for writing on this subject. I am presumed to be working on behalf of the DEA, or accused of being unhelpful to the legalization movement--when in fact I have consistently supported legalization for years.

Anonymous said...

Are anxiety & dysphoria actually "withdrawal symptoms" or simply signs of how uncomfortable & unpleasant it can be to change any long-held, highly ingrained pattern of behavior? Is vivid dreaming a "withdrawal symptom" or simply the return of normal patterns of REM sleep which had been suppressed by heavy cannabis use (seeming so intense due to being long-absent?)

Pretty soon someone will be trying to call hunger a "withdrawal symptom" of "food dependence..."

Anonymous said...

BTW, I don't mean to discount the suffering of those who are reporting these symptoms - I'm merely skeptical about whether they are the result of true physical dependence. Psychological addictions can be every bit as unpleasant and difficult to break as physical ones from a subjective standpoint, and can manifest with just as nasty a range of symptoms - but I don't think it's useful for anyone to treat them the same way.

Dirk Hanson said...

I have a hard time at this point making much of a meaningful distinction between physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. It's all pretty intertwined, it seems to me.

In the case of people suffering from carbohydrate-craving obesity, another serotonin-driven disorder, you could pretty accurately call hunger a "withdrawal symptom" of "food dependence..."

Buy you're right to suggest that withdrawal is sometimes difficult to distinguish from rebound effects--one of the big challenges in addiction medicine.

martin pop said...

I am suffering, its definitely physical, absolutely no question.

i smoked every day for 20 years, i had the odd 'day off' no more than 2 nights free at a time, and stopped for a month after 10 years, then started again - that was 10 years ago - i gave up smoking tobacco after 21 years, 4 months ago, and although i never thought i was one of those who would stop, i found that either being massively stoned or nothing wasn't as pleasureable as having a joint mixed with tobacco - so i gradually cut down, though lack of desire to be completely wasted !

I am now unable to sleep at 23.28 as i go into night 11 (day 11 in the morning) without, and its very hard people. i am english, living in denmark, and i most certainly don't work for any government related agencies ! i run an english real ale pub ! its very hard trying to stay focused and be happy, look after 2 young children, keep the missus happy and sleep properly and function. especially when just one joint will fix everything - what keeps me going is that if the abstinence of thc can cause such distress, and seem to last forever - it must have been really bad for me - im 40 now and want to try life without, to see what its like !

my withdrawal symptoms have been exactly the same as they were 10 years ago - although this time, the insomnia has lasted much longer than 4 days, last time it was 4 days of insomnia and horrific nightmares, and 2 weeks of exhaustion - this time on day 10/11 the nightmares stopped after 4 days, then vivid dreams, then suddenly last night on night 10 nasty nasty nightmare, followed by about 5-6 vivid dreams in 2 hours, each leaving me knackered - i also have a mini, irritating cold, which also lasted last time. i am angry, impatient, anxious, miserable and just feel 'wrong'- i know it will end soon, it helps somehow to get it out, what i am feeling, and i hope someone out there can have some understanding of how horrible this is. and i say to those smokers who say withdrawal symptoms are nonsense - give it up just for 2 weeks and see what happens !
keep going those of you who are struggling - because to get past day 4 is such an achievement and a terrible waste to throw that away !

Dirk Hanson said...

"i also have a mini, irritating cold, which also lasted last time. i am angry, impatient, anxious, miserable and just feel 'wrong'- "

Other heavy users have mentioned that every time they quit smoking pot abruptly, they come down with a cold. Something with the immune system, perhaps?

The business about just feeling wrong is so important--when, as you say, there is always the knowledge that a joint will turn everything wrong to right. So will a first drink for the abstinent alcoholic.

I'm not against smoking marijuana, any more than I am against drinking just because I happen to be an alcoholic. Most pot smokers will never go through what you are going through, but the ones who do will benefit from knowing what is causing their distress.

Anonymous said...

Martin and Dirk, Roy here. I smoked for 16 years stopped for ten years then smoked for the last 16 years, marijuana and for the last several years a lot of hash.. Its been five weeks. I have been wondering if I had rabies or mad cow disease. My agitation is far beyond the scope of that word. It has often bordered on berserker rage. I am so pleased to find someone else who has been or is going through this. I went to my VA Dr. and he thought it might be caused byan adverse reaction to one of my prescription drugs. While the rage has subsided to a level that could be described as agitation, iritation, insominia. There have been no nightmares but my dreams are intense and vivid.
I am constantly overheating with the overheating leading to irritability and angry out bursts. I think the symptoms are decreasing in severity but as yet I see no end in sight. I went through some of these symptoms 26 years ago, but the pot I have been smoking this second 16 years has been much stronger and I have smoked much more of it. Perhaps that is why normalacy is taking so much longer to return.

I thank you guys for the information I have gotten from you tonight. I have been feeeling hopless and reminding myself of my late mother in her last year when she spent a good deal of time just lying in bed looking at the wall.
ANyone who says that there is not a withdrawl syndrome at least as powerful as opiate withdrawl simply has not been where we are. No one once experiencing this, nightmare is the best word that comes to mind, could possibly doubt that it exsists.
thanks again, I would rather believe that there is an end to this than that I have rabies.

Dirk Hanson said...

There is an end to this.

Even decades of daily toking cannot obviate the fact that the brain is plastic and will rewire and rebound--but not on any kind of regular timeline. (I'd like to see some studies on length of major withdrawal symptoms--is there a reason why they last 3 days for some and several month for others?)

Also, one reason I support legalization is because it's barbaric to go to your doctor with major symptoms like you are suffering and not be able to tell him about the pot smoking. So doctors go round and round with misdiagnoses.

martin pop said...

hi chaps,

great to get a response - i feel much better on night 13 going into day 13 tomorrow. my cold is slowly improving, the worst thing being my swollen/sore throat - but as i say, it feels much better than it did. emotionally i feel much better than yesterday too. i am now starting to feel naturally tired at the right time - last night the dreams were much less mad, infact i can't remember them lol its obvious to me that the longer you have smoked and the more you have smoked and the stronger the stuff - the longer the withdrawal symptoms will last. we all have complex brains and im sure its different for a lot of people - after everything i have searched for and read, the most usefull information i found was to realize that by being stoned i failed to work through my experiences and emotions by dealing with these in my subconcious at night time - a lot off waffle for 'dreams' ! i look forward to each vivid dream now and regard it as catching up - i think after 20 years of surpressing things its bound to take time to be 'normal' ! 5 weeks roy, i am sure it won't be long before you feel ok again ! there must be so many environmental aspects to our psyche's that affect us differently, i guess i am lucky to be busy all the time, either being alone or too much time on my hands would lead to too much thinking perhaps, and seeing as though the brain is going through allsorts it must have very different reactions for different people.
is it true that some heavy smokers have no adverse reactions whatsoever to giving up ?surely not ! lucky sods !!

anyway, i waffle away once again, without really saying anything..yet i feel better, and i hope those who are struggling have the strength to continue the abstinence - lets face it, i'm sure we all have fond memories of giggling with friends, munchies, music, colours - but as you get older, its never like that anymore is it ? im glad i stopped, and im very curious, now that my personality has formed (around the age of 30 as they say) to see how i will be :-D

take care people !

martin pop

anyone ever get over to copenhagen, your first pint is on me !

Dirk Hanson said...

"is it true that some heavy smokers have no adverse reactions whatsoever to giving up ?"

It's true--the heavy smokers mostly sort out as being the addictive people--they may use other drugs addictively, too--but some heavy tokers can just quit and walk away without difficulty. They're the ones who are mostly non-addictive in the first place, and may be smoking heavily for any number of reasons, including that they just feel like it. Heavy recreational smokers do exist.

Anonymous said...

I regret, but I can help nothing. I know, you will find the correct decision. Do not despair.

Anonymous said...

Hi there I'll give some background on me.I am 28 and my parents are reformed alcohlics so I have a 99% chance of becoming addicited to anything which I have. I always watched my drinking so I didn't fall into that trap I smoked mad amounts of weed instead. 5-10 joints a day to myself, for around 10 years (smoking for 14 years) somtimes shared. ( but not that often,) I stopped smoking a few weeks ago clean for 2 weeks definalty might of had the drag or so the first week not sure because well my head is messed.( Think it was 4 weeks ago when i started giving it up) There are withdrawl symptoms sweats, anistey, crazy ass dreams and I am now extremally paranoid which I never had before. I no longer know who I am but I am figureing it out slowly. Basicly my head is all over the place. sometimes good most times bad. I dont eat often and I am well under weight. I am staying away from drink ( I'm irish its really to hard to find stuff to do everyone I know apart from my parents drink most to excess) I get angry and have converstations with myself. Waiting on my docs apointment at teh minute. To the other lads that are off it. Well we can keep it going. I also have that feeling of "wrong" that the other poster mentioned. My brain feels as if it as war with itself and I now feel highly depressed. Waiting to get to the doctor and have a chat with him about it. I have no woman which makes me een more depressed.

To sum it up.
smoking weed screwed my head up. and for me there was lot of withdrawal symptoms. I hope they sort themselves out soon tho because I cant take much more.

Oh and did anyone else ever go crazy ( get really really angry) when theu thought they lost there last bag?

Dirk Hanson said...

I know somebody who tore apart every closet in their house looking for a bag they had lost track of. Finally collapsed on the floor, crying.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that I came across this site. After 43 yrs of smoking weed with the last 15 being very chronic and very high quality weed, I decided to stop. I knew that I would be in for a real time assuming that there must be some physical adjustment but I never thought it would be this tramatic. I feel good about myself , no anger or resentment about the past. My wife passed away a few yrs ago and I feel angry about that and I guess this is why I stopped smoking weed. I'd like to meet other women who are cool but not addicted to anything. I have experienced the crazy dreams and also nice pleasent dreams. I look forward to sleep anticipating dreams. I haven't dreamt since my wife died so knowing that I will remember my dreams is exciting. I've had post nasal drip and a sore throat so bad that I swear I got throat cancer. Been to the doctors but they just don't get it. I feel so much better knowing that all this will pass once my brain figures it all out. My guitar playing has improved as well as my ability to connect with other people. Thank you people so much for sharing your stories. I really enjoyed smoking pot but it's time to move on. Good luck to all who feel the same and belive that all will get better.

Anonymous said...

I am 38 years old and have been smoking marijuana for 24 yrs. I am on day 14 without smoking. I have experienced all the withdrawal symptoms mentioned. Anxiety being the toughest for me because this is the reason I stopped. For me the anxiety came on very suddenly. After all the years of smoking I suddenly had panic attacks. In many respects I think this the only thing that would make me stop. It's as if my Allie turned on me. I am certainly pro marijuana in every respect. I built a career and family as a chronic smoker. I have always assumed that I was missing some emotional development stages in my life. Although I am proud that I have reached the two week stage I still obsess on why it doesn't bring me the predictable comfort it use to.
I now realize I have always had low grade anxiety that has now surfaced in form of some random social anxieties, even phobias. That's hard to come to terms with at times.
After traveling the world, considering my self a strong minded psychedelic man. Panic has made me evaluate my
lifestyle. The overthinking and overanalyzing has led me to my current insights. I cannot speak for anyone else ,but emotional dependance and the withdrawal for chronic users has been drastically downplayed over the years. For me it's obvious, why else would I use so heavily and so often. Wasn't giving my emotional self to metabolize everything from teenage development, heartbreak, loss of a parent, and even the successes in life. No right, no wrong, just is what it is. Where I am from in California folks tend to make marijuana the spirituality. If that works, great, but I'm learning that that's not for me. I'm learning to simply let go.
Too much concern about the agenda out there in the world.
Want so much to developed through this free of fears for the family of humanity. Weed can make you think you are doing something about the worlds troubles by simply just puffen. But, I'm coming to realize being cerebral constantly isn't so comfortable anymore. There are many things in this life I do not have control over and I am working on coming to terms with this without marijuana currently. It is such a strong psychedelic that modern society seems to under rate it's effects on personality development without moderation. After day 9 of withdrawal the weight of anxiety was beginning to lift. Gets better everyday. Sure I ponder smoking again and reserving the space, but just want to take it moment to moment . Reading helps me. Melotonin had definitely helped me sleep. Valerian tincture in my tea has also helped. Trying not to use anything stronger to sleep. Anyone experiencing anxiety/panic suddenly after years of chronic use, please don't be too hard on yourself, you have not been conquered by "the fear", you have been given the message to try life without the ganga .

Dirk Hanson said...

One of the strangest things that sometimes happens with marijuana is the sudden onset of anxiety, fear, and paranoia when smoking, often after a lifetime of smoking without incident. I've never run across a coherent explanation of the phenomenon, another one of those weed mysteries.

Anonymous said...

i recently quit smoking pot a we ek ago and let me tell my withdrawls have been crazier than anybody has told me today i woke up felt like my stomach has been hit with a jack hammer and then shortly after that i was talking to my cousin and broke out into a crazy cold sweat which lasted for lose to 8 hours and at night i have crazy dreams where there is always somebody out to harm me or my girlfriend and i thought u cant die in dreams but it happens but i have yet to have any anxiety or anger issues yet but i have lost almost all desire to eat idk i know this is not a typical case of withdrawls if anybody can give me some advice u can email me at thanks

Anonymous said...

Great post, glad I came across it.

I've smoked daily (3-4 bowls amongst 5 people every day) for only about 3.5 months and can tell you I've had withdrawals myself. Sweats, insomnia, lack of appetite, exhaustion, anxiety, and recently pain in my throat that could be unrelated.

I've tried to quit before and was successful for 2 weeks, and felt good until I returned to the group of friends I was into it with again. That time was much, much harder. To the point where I could not hold any food down, I went nearly 4 days without eating a thing.

My advice to those still struggling is to start a journal to track your progress and see how you're feeling. Today is day 6 for me and I can tell you I feel better mentally and physically every day. Give yourself a list of reasons as to why you're quitting, and read it frequently.

I wish you all the best in your efforts, things DO get better, I promise. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this. I'm a 22-year-old woman, I quit smoking 3 days ago, it's 7:30am and I have not slept. I smoked heavily for over two years. I think the whole "non addictive" is a misunderstanding, as mental addiction could apply to practically anything (certainly weed) and isn't exactly easier to get rid of than physical addiction. I finally did decide to quit, but my symptoms are quite extreme (didn't even know they existed until now). I have a very sore throat, my stomach hurts, no appetite, nausea, insomnia, mood swings and periods of euphoria. All the "day 11"s I read about here honestly frighten me a lot. I can't not sleep for 11 days. Good luck to anyone going through this.

Dirk Hanson said...

Yeah, the fact that so many people simply don't know about marijuana withdrawal effects can confuse things and shake people up.

Anonymous said...

Almost 48 hours in- Panic attacks, sweating profusely then switching to freezing cold. I have been nauseous with the runs and the smell of food makes my stomach turn. Hyper sensitive to stress and anxiety and even the wrong word can trigger an attack right now. The words 'not right' are right on the money.

I had been a heavy smoker for years and then took a nearly 20 year break to raise my kids but also because I had started to get medically paranoid every time I smoked. (Weird pains and heart racing which in retrospect seem like baby panic attacks perhaps). No real problems quitting that I can remember from then. I started smoking again when California legalized for medical. I definitely have a problem with 'minimal' use. I can start off with 'only at night', but then it gradually increases until I'm back to wakeing and baking again. I will stop for a few days to clear out and then start back with the cycle again - only at night then at lunch then etc. Quitting has never caused the symptoms I'm having this time, but maybe I'm older and th body is changing?? 48 yo male, slightly overweight but active and do regular excercise.

I had never had a particularly bad problem with anxiety (that I was aware of) until one year ago, out of the blue I started to have bad panic attacks. Went to the Dr. and had the check up and blood work etc only to be given the all clear. It didn't seem directly related to when I would smoke, so I did not associate the two things. All of the classic anxiety/depression symptoms were there. I decided maybe the pot wasn't helping so I quit. Man, that was a rough week. I had also had dental implant surgery and was extremely anxious going into that so I figured it was all tied up together. I started to feel better and slowly returned to smoking. I have had bouts of minor anxiety off and on since that time, but this Saturady I had another massive panic attack. I realized that I had been waking and baking for over a month leading up to this, and maybe it was related to the pot?? I have not had anything to smoke for two days and I feel like absolute shit. Fortunately I can sleep!! Unfortunately I want to do it all the time. Def signs of depression- lethargic, melancholy, overwhelmed, and guilty for feeling this way in addition to all the symptoms listed at the beginning of the post. I'm going to ride it out and hope it gets better like everyone else here has said and seriously consider trying to quit for good. It's a bummer as I really enjoy it, and it helps me with focus and creativity, but not if this is the ultimate downside.

Dirk Hanson said...

One of marijuana's mysteries is the fact that sometimes a lifetime smoker abruptly discovers that the pot he has been smoking happily for years now makes him or her extremely paranoid and anxious. I have seen this first-hand. I don't know of any medical explanation for it. These people are fine once they quit smoking. Very strange.

Anonymous said...

I believe that a lot of these are related to the hypothalamic dysfunction which also goes in non-marijuana circles as "adrenal fatigue" (CRH mentioned in this article is the brain hormone that stimulates adrenal production of corrisol by adrenal glands. It is likely that a combination of marijuana and either aging or other life stressors causes the altered response to cannabis after many years of problem free use. I would suggest trying diet and supplements that are recommended in adrenal fatigue books.

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