Drug and Alcohol

Marijuana Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Marijuana withdrawal may not be as intense as opioid or benzo withdrawal, but it's still a challenge. Learn more about withdrawal in our blog.

Marijuana Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

April 6, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

The usage of marijuana has long been a contentious issue in the United States, with views on its legalization and its adverse effects on health ranging greatly. Although marijuana has been legalized for both medical and recreational use in several states, it is still regarded as a controlled substance at the federal level.

There are concerns regarding marijuana's possible impacts on physical and mental health, even though many individuals think the drug is usually safe. According to research, regular marijuana use can harm the brain, impairing memory, concentration, and learning. It may also harm mental health, such as a higher incidence of schizophrenia and psychosis.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the possibility of marijuana use, especially among young individuals. Frequent marijuana usage can cause cannabis addiction, and excessive use can cause withdrawal symptoms when someone tries to stop.

By the Numbers:

According to data from the National Center for Drug Abuse, in 2018 shows that 10% of frequent cannabis users develop a marijuana use disorder.

What Is Marijuana?

Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the psychotropic substances found in the cannabis plant, popularly known as marijuana (also known as cannabis). These substances cause the psychedelic effects of marijuana when ingested.

Marijuana can be consumed in various ways, including smoking, vaping, eating, or drinking. When smoked, the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant are rolled into a joint or placed in a pipe, which is then ignited and inhaled. When consumed in food or drink, the active compounds in Marijuana are extracted and infused into the food or drink product.

Marijuana has a long history of use, dating back thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal, religious, and recreational purposes. It is widely used for its psychoactive effects and medicinal purposes to treat various conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and seizures.

In some countries, marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use, while in others, it remains illegal. The legal status of marijuana continues to evolve, with some countries moving towards legalization or decriminalization while others maintain strict laws and harsh penalties for its use and possession.

Though marijuana is generally considered safe for most people, it can have adverse side effects and risks, mainly when consumed in high doses or in specific populations, such as pregnant women or individuals with a history of mental illness.

How Does Marijuana Work?

Marijuana, often known as cannabis, is both a recreational and therapeutic medication with euphoric effects. Marijuana's effects arise from its communication with the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This system comprises receptors and neurotransmitters and regulates mood, hunger, suffering, and recall.

The active ingredient in Marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and activates them. These receptors are primarily found in brain regions responsible for regulating mood, memory, and perception, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex.

When THC binds to these receptors, it triggers biochemical reactions that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This gives Marijuana its euphoric and relaxing effects and its potential for addiction.

In addition to its effects on mood and perception, Marijuana also affects cognitive processes such as attention, concentration, and memory. Some studies have suggested that chronic marijuana use can impair cognitive function, particularly in areas such as working memory and verbal fluency.

Also, Marijuana can also affect brain development, particularly in adolescents and young adults, who are still undergoing significant neural growth and development. Regular use of Marijuana during this period can lead to long-term changes in brain structure and function, which may have lasting effects on cognitive and emotional health.

Why Do People Withdraw From Marijuana?

Although not a drug like opioids or benzodiazepines, people experience withdrawal from marijuana use for the same reasons. THC activates certain areas in nerve cells. Our nervous system produces neurotransmitters that are similar to THC. Long-term use of marijuana causes the body to produce less and less of these natural neurotransmitters.

When a person stops using marijuana after a long period of time, the body's sense of balance is thrown out of whack as it tries to maintain itself without the higher amount of THC and its lowered amount of neurotransmitters. This causes withdrawal symptoms, and it's the same chemical imbalance every drug causes.

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Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect

Although not as severe as opioid withdrawal or as dangerous as withdrawal from benzodiazepines and alcohol, marijuana still produces noticeable withdrawal symptoms that can be very unpleasant.

Although there are many factors in play (weight, age, history of marijuana use, and so on) that determine how long marijuana withdrawal lasts, in general symptoms can start a few hours after the drug was last used. Withdrawal from marijuana in general lasts for about two weeks, with symptoms peaking at the end of the first week.

Symptoms include:

  • Irritability

  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression

  • Lack of appetite

  • Stomach pain

  • Sweating

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Headache

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Increased heart rate

  • Digestive issues

  • Tiredness

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?
Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal
Phase 1 of Marijuana Withdrawal
Phase 2 of Marijuana Withdrawal
Phase 3 of Marijuana Withdrawal
Marijuana Withdrawal Is Easier With Professional Help

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in the System?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive drug that can affect the body in various ways. When someone consumes marijuana, its active ingredient, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), enters the bloodstream and can be detected in the body for a certain period.

The amount of time marijuana stays in the system can vary depending on several factors, such as the frequency and amount of use, the person's metabolism, and the method of consumption.

When someone smokes or inhales marijuana, the THC enters the bloodstream quickly and can be detected in a blood test for up to 36 hours. However, THC can be detected in urine for up to several weeks, depending on the frequency and amount of use.

Generally, occasional users can expect THC to remain in their urine for about three to four days after use, while heavy users may test positive for up to 30 days or more. This is because THC is stored in fat cells, and as the body metabolizes fat, THC can be released back into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine.

Note that other factors can also influence how long THC stays in the system. For example, exercise and drinking plenty of fluids can help to speed up the body's metabolism and eliminate THC more quickly.

Also, drug tests can vary in sensitivity and accuracy, and false positives are possible. Therefore, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and consequences of using marijuana and to be honest with healthcare professionals if you are asked about your drug use.

Thus, the length of time marijuana stays in the system can vary depending on several factors. Still, occasional users can generally expect THC to be detectable in urine for about three to four days, while heavy users may test positive for up to 30 days or more.

What Are the Symptoms of Addiction to Marijuana?

Marijuana is a drug that is used for both medicinal and recreational purposes. While some people use it occasionally without any issues, others may develop an addiction, which can negatively affect their lives. The symptoms of addiction to Marijuana can vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones include the following:

Cravings

A person addicted to Marijuana will experience intense cravings for the drug. They may find themselves thinking about using Marijuana throughout the day and may feel like they cannot function without it.

Increased Tolerance

As an individual continues to use Marijuana, they will likely develop a tolerance to it. This means they will need to use more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effects.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person addicted to Marijuana stops using the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, insomnia, decreased appetite, and mood swings.

Loss of Control

People who are addicted to Marijuana may find that they have difficulty controlling their use of the drug. They may use it even when they know it is causing problems, such as interfering with their work or relationships.

Neglecting Responsibilities

Individuals addicted to Marijuana may neglect their work, school, or home responsibilities. They may skip important meetings, fail to complete assignments or neglect household chores.

Social Withdrawal

Addiction to Marijuana can lead to social withdrawal as the individual may prefer to spend time alone, away from friends and family. They may also lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Physical Symptoms

Long-term use of Marijuana can lead to physical symptoms such as lung problems, impaired memory, and decreased cognitive function.

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What Are the Side Effects of Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive drug commonly used for recreational and medicinal purposes. While it has been touted as a relatively safe drug, the use of marijuana can have several side effects, some of which can be harmful to the user's health. Here are the side effects of marijuana listed in depth.

Short-Term Memory Impairment

One of the most commonly reported side effects of marijuana use is short-term memory impairment. Users may have difficulty retaining information or recalling recent events, which can be particularly problematic for academic or work-related tasks.

Impaired Cognitive Function

Marijuana use can also impair cognitive function, including attention, decision-making, and reaction time. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased risk of accidents, particularly when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Respiratory Problems

Smoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and cause respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis and lung infections. This is particularly problematic for people who use marijuana regularly or have preexisting respiratory issues.

Increased Heart Rate

Marijuana use can also increase heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with preexisting heart conditions. In rare cases, it can even trigger heart attacks.

Anxiety and Paranoia

Some users may experience feelings of anxiety or paranoia while under the influence of marijuana. This can be particularly problematic for people with preexisting mental health issues.

Dependence and Addiction

While marijuana is not considered physically addictive like drugs like heroin or cocaine, some users may become dependent on it and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit.

Impaired Immune Function

Marijuana use can also impair immune function, making users more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Altered Perception and Hallucinations

In some cases, marijuana use can cause altered perception and hallucinations. This can be particularly problematic for people with preexisting mental health issues, as it can exacerbate symptoms of psychosis.

Decreased Motivation

Finally, some users may experience decreased motivation or lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. This can be particularly problematic for students or people with demanding jobs.

Treatment of Addiction to Marijuana

In conjunction with social and professional support, behavioral therapy is the standard approach to treating cannabis use disorder, often known as marijuana addiction. Here we'll go through how to get help for your marijuana addiction.

Behavioral Therapy

The foundation of marijuana addiction treatment is behavioral therapy. A person's motivation for using marijuana can be addressed in treatment, as can the identification of triggers and the development of coping mechanisms to deal with cravings and prevent relapse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and contingency management are just a few therapies that have shown promise in treating marijuana addiction.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a method that complements cognitive behavioral therapy by helping people zero in on and alters the faulty thought processes that lead to their addiction. In addition, the positive reward for drug-free conduct is a critical component of contingency management.

Support Groups

Those battling marijuana addiction might find a safe and encouraging space in a support group. Those in recovery can benefit greatly from these organizations' peer support and accountability.

Medications

Although the FDA has not yet authorized any drugs expressly for treating marijuana addiction, some drugs can be used to address related medical issues, such as withdrawal. Prescribed antidepressants, for instance, can assist with the depression and anxiety that sometimes accompany pot usage.

Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment

In severe cases of addiction, inpatient treatment may be necessary. This involves staying in an inpatient drug rehab treatment facility for intensive therapy and support. Outpatient drug rehab treatment involves attending therapy and support groups on an outpatient basis while continuing to live at home.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Marijuana addicts suffering from depression or anxiety may benefit from dual diagnosis therapy. The client will receive all-encompassing care that simultaneously addresses their addiction and mental health issues.

Marijuana Addiction Is Treatable. The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand that addiction to marijuana is a serious issue that requires professional treatment. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals is dedicated to helping individuals struggling with addiction to marijuana overcome their dependence and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.  

Our drug rehab offers a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment, including individual counseling, group therapy, and medical detoxification. Our staff of licensed counselors and therapists work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans that address their specific needs and goals. We believe that addiction is a complex disease that requires a holistic approach to recovery, and we take into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each patient's addiction.  

In addition to individual and group therapy, we offer a range of support services to help patients maintain their recovery after leaving our facility. These may include ongoing counseling, support groups, and referrals to community resources.

If you're tired of the wake-and-bake cycle of marijuana addiction, there's a way to break it. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and learn more about our marijuana treatment programs.

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