Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you know what to expect, it’s a whole lot easier.
Before I delve into the marijuana addiction withdrawal symptoms and what you should expect to endure when quitting, I think it’s important to talk about what these symptoms really mean.
Let’s start with your situation. You are obviously searching the Internet for answers and wondering not only how to quit smoking marijuana, but what types of withdrawal symptoms you can expect. Many people imagine their life without smoking up as a life with a void. But really, the void left by cutting out your pot habit will be filled with new activities that will reward you with with plenty of fun, comfort and relaxation. Withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe, but the worst is over within 30 days.
Prepare for Marijuana Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
The trick is to re-frame your life over the next months as a transition from bad to good. You want to be free from the "monkey on your back", so rather than feeding it bananas every day while you spend untold hours trying in vain teach it how to run an organ grinder, throw your bananas in a dumpster and let it jump in after them. Believe me, nothing feels better than being free from a destructive pot habit. You can go where you want, when you want, for as long as you want, with whomever you want. You will start to see possibilities where before you saw only barriers.
Think of your period of withdrawal like this: If I told you I was going to give you $100,000, but first I wanted you to spend two weeks in a cold damp cave, would you do it? Probably you would, because being cold and damp is a bit uncomfortable, but by day three you would get used to the feeling, and over the next week and a half you would find ways to make the cave more tolerable until the last day when you walked out $100,000 richer, covered in bat guano and spiders, but no worse for the wear. If I offered you another $1,000,000 to spend one day per week in the cave for the next year, would you do it?
Well, I ain’t payin’ sh*t, but here are your marijuana withdrawal symptoms as promised:
Common Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Headaches. This is pretty standard fare for withdrawal from any substance. Headaches can range in severity from moderate to severe, and you should treat these headaches however you treat your regular headaches.
Nagging Brain. Probably the most frustrating withdrawal symptom is dealing with the repetitive messages from your brain urging you to give up and get high instead of putting yourself through discomfort. Listen to your deep inner voice, The truth about your desire to be free from addiction speaks from deep inside you. The nagging repetitive thoughts are weak, and you can divert your attention with practice and by preparing a strategy to deal with these nagging thoughts.
Difficulty Sleeping. If you have been falling asleep with a bed-time joint for the last 10 years, then expect to have some difficulty getting to sleep easily. It’s not uncommon to feel restless while laying in bed. Trying to fall asleep can be incredibly frustrating, and for a lot of people is a prime time to relapse. Ask your pharmacist about Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep compound that helps you get your Z’s. You may feel slightly tired in the morning, but Melatonin is harmless and works very well for most people. If that doesn’t work, you can ask your doctor about prescription sleep aids.
Depression. This is a very commonly reported withdrawal symptom. While many people feel low in the first weeks, depression tends to creep up on you and get more debilitating in the months after quitting marijuana. Depression can be devastating for you and your family and friends. Do not underestimate how you are feeling and the potential for depression to pull you even further off track. You must find a way to exercise and stay active. You must get the required amount of sunlight every day. That is – 30 minutes with 70% of your skin exposed. Sunlight gives your body the necessary amount of vitamin D which is a major factor in maintaining a healthy immune system and combating the effects of depression.Talk to your doctor and explain how you are feeling. Talk to your psychologist or psychiatrist. Don’t suffer alone, or let your depression go untreated.
Mood Swings. You cannot expect to cease an activity that has essentially regulated you moods for X amount of years and not experience some moodiness. Mood swing are commonly reported by people who are going through marijuana detox. Be aware of how you are feeling at all times, it is OK for you to be moody, just avoid subjecting others to your wrath. Tell them "I am a bit cranky right now, it’s not you and it will pass in a minute…"
Irritability. You may feel irritable and easily annoyed by other people or things in your life. Again, just be cognizant of what you are going through and be kind to yourself, and kind to others. You are allowed to feel irritable, but you are not allowed to be abusive to other people because of your feelings. Sit in your feeling for a minute or two, assess what is really irritating you, chew on it for a minute and then move on and busy yourself with something else. Do not set your brain on repeat thinking about how annoyed you are. Your brain would love to repeat that message, but ultimately it will do you a disservice.
Anxiety & Panic Attacks. It is not uncommon to experience heightened levels of anxiety during the weeks, months, and even years after you quit. Whether the mechanism behind this has to do with cannibinoid receptors being out of balance, or some other phenomenon, anxiety can be debilitating. I myself have had to learn to manage my anxiety and panic attacks, a process that has continued even 10 yeas after quitting. Read this blog post for more information and techniques for coping with anxiety and panic attacks: Anxiety and Panic Attacks from Marijuana Withdrawal
Difficulty Concentrating. Keeping task oriented and focused while your brain is turning somersaults and showering you with a veritable burning acid rain of terrible thoughts can be a feat. This symptom will be worse at the onset, and gradually things will get better over the coming weeks. Eventually your ability to concentrate will get better and better as your brain gives up its fight to relapse. Exercise is key to being able to concentrate. If you are physically tired after sweating and releasing endorphins, your brain will be in much better shape than if you have just sat idle.
Lack of Enthusiasm & Variable Energy. While it is true that people experience these symptoms, it is important to remain focused on your goal. Keep busy no matter what. Exercise. Immerse yourself in activities. Your enthusiasm will return and your energy levels will increase in time.
BELOW: Please refer to these resources for more information on coping with withdrawal.
Post Acute Marijuana Withdrawal
Post-acute withdrawal feels like a roller coaster of symptoms. In the first few weeks, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.
Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you’ve been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you’ll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you’ll know that each episode is time limited.
Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you’re up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you’ll get caught off guard, and when you’re disappointed you’re more likely to relapse.
How to Survive Post-Acute Withdrawal
Be patient. Two years can feel like a long time if you’re in a rush to get through it. You can’t hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time.
If you try to rush your recovery, or resent post-acute withdrawal, or try to bulldoze your way through, you’ll become exhausted. And when you’re exhausted you’ll think of using to escape.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. They are the result of your brain chemistry gradually going back to normal. Therefore don’t resent them. But remember, even after one year, you are still only half way there.
Go with the flow. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable. But the more you resent them the worse they’ll seem. You’ll have lots of good days over the next two years. Enjoy them. You’ll also have lots of bad days. On those days, don’t try to do too much. Take care of yourself, focus on your recovery, and you’ll get through this.
Practice self-care. Give yourself lots of little breaks over the next two years. Tell yourself "what I am doing is enough." Be good to yourself. That is what most addicts can’t do, and that’s what you must learn in recovery. Recovery is the opposite of addiction.
Sometimes you’ll have little energy or enthusiasm for anything. Understand this and don’t over book your life. Give yourself permission to focus on your recovery.
Post-acute withdrawal can be a trigger for relapse. You’ll go for weeks without any withdrawal symptoms, and then one day you’ll wake up and your withdrawal will hit you like a ton of bricks. You’ll have slept badly. You’ll be in a bad mood. Your energy will be low. And if you’re not prepared for it, if you think that post-acute withdrawal only lasts for a few months, or if you think that you’ll be different and it won’t be as bad for you, then you’ll get caught off guard. But if you know what to expect you can do this.
Being able to relax will help you through post-acute withdrawal. When you’re tense you tend to dwell on your symptoms and make them worse. When you’re relaxed it’s easier to not get caught up in them. You aren’t as triggered by your symptoms which means you’re less likely to relapse.
Remember, every relapse, no matter how small undoes the gains your brain has made during recovery. Without abstinence everything will fall apart. With abstinence everything is possible.