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.



  1. Mubungo January 3, 2013 12:59 am Reply

    I have smoked heavily for years, during this time my little brother and I have become very close. I need to stop smoking for myself. but I don’t want to lose the bond I have with him. he’s trying to quit also but I can tell that he isn’t ready. do you have any suggestions? Also I thank this site for saving my adolescence.

    • QWAS Admin January 3, 2013 5:57 am Reply

      I think it’s pretty tough to try and push someone who isn’t ready. Probably the best thing you can do is set an example. If you quit, your life is going to change. The type of activities you do, your routine, your friends, it’s just how it tends to go. Your little bro will be watching you keenly. Involve him in the stuff you are doing as much as possible and introduce him to the new things in your life as they come. During this next phase of your life, smoking pot will be noticeably absent at first, but you’ll both start to get used to the idea of having fun without it. He may make up his own mind to quit in time, but don’t forget, you are a little older, wiser, and he needs to make his own decisions. Set an example. Involve him as much as possible. That’s the official QWAS position for what it’s worth ;-)

  2. Morgan January 17, 2013 4:29 am Reply

    I’m quitting for a number of reasons…the biggest being that I’ve realized losing my chances of becoming a nurse or other medical professional is not worth it. I’m so worried about losing my boyfriend over this, though. Weed was one of the things that drew us to each other. He’s being supportive of my decision at the moment, but I really feel like we will drift apart. Is it possible to be in a relationship with him? I’ve quit before for a few months, still hung out with the same stoner friends and was able to maintain my sobriety. I relapsed because I moved out of my dad’s and the school district I was in and the reason I had quit to begin with was no longer there (my high school began drug testing for any and all extra-curricular activities). Now, I have drug testing again in college for the nursing program: weed isn’t worth me not reaching the goals I have set for myself.

    Really though, all I am interested in is your opinion on whether or not my boyfriend and I will be able to continue our relationship in the long term if I don’t smoke and he does.

    • QWAS Admin January 17, 2013 8:08 am Reply

      Hi Morgan, There’s no one size fits all answer here. Your decision to quit and pursue your education is taking you in a new direction. To reach a juncture like that, you’ve had to examine your lifestyle, and your goals. Personally, I found it impossible to hang out with the same crew after I quit. In fact, I made a conscious decision to avoid them and immersed myself in new activities and people. You may find that you are slowly outgrowing certain things in your life and that’s a normal process.

      I find your question about whether or not you and your boyfriend can continue if he still smokes and you don’t a bit perplexing to tell you the truth. You seem to be taking a passive stance. I think you should always ask yourself what you want in life and love. If your guy embodies enough of the right qualities and makes you feel the right way, then sure, you could continue. If smoking joints together played too big a part in your relationship however, I doubt it will make sense to stay together for either of you.

      I dated a girl once for about 6 months who smoked weed almost every night. She would generally not smoke on days/nights we were together, but when she did I found it to be a major turn off. Not because I think weed is bad, or because I thought it was destructive for her, but simply because I had worked so hard and made so many changes to release myself from my own habit. At the time my quitting was too recent and I hated being around it. Anyway – good luck and let us know what happens.

  3. 25 year old young woman that's ready for a change :) February 17, 2013 10:45 pm Reply

    I have been searching the web for good advice on quitting i have been smoking for about 7 years on and off i first started with a hs bf that was bad news he got into worst drugs and the relationship ended however i was already hooked i loved to smoke and i had other friends that would smoke with me at the age of 20 i have a great paying job and i would spend about 80-100 dollars a week to buy pot and not mention wraps, pipies,clear eyes..i have stoped before so i know i could do it again this time i have been smoking for the past 2 years daily! I enjoyed it so much it relaxed me and made my mind slow down with overthinkng but the cons were alot worst than the pros i would get super sleepy my eyes would get low and my mind was slower for a while i tried to find a balance with smoking weed and being social so i would smoke a joint or take a few hits from the pipe or apple and then i would go to the gym thinking to myself see i can still work out and have a great job and smoke weed hoever my workouts were not so affective i would run a mile and not break a sweat i guess my mind was so high that my body wasent getting the full potential of my work out not to mention that after the gym i would go eat someting really fat or sugary because si had the munchies so i was spending more money going out and smoking eating somethimes even drinking alcohol i realized that i really liked to smoke but that it was not something that i needed so i used lint to stop for 40 days my thought around this was that i would stop to test my will power and because i knew that if i did it for god he would help me through this process so far it has been 3 days and i deffinitly feel the mood swings and bitchiness also anxiouse i started crying over the dumbest things yesterday but i overcame it so far it’s been alot better i feel more focused and havev more energy i even feel like i look prettier beacouse my eyes are fully open and not low with bags under my eyes when i smile I am going to be able to do this i know i can! i am actually about to start getting ready to go play tenis with my new wonderfull sexy bf :)
    Life is so beautiful and i dont want to live in the clouds any longer i want to live my life to the fullest and accomplish all of my goals and weed, alcohol, ciggarettes are just not meant to be donr by a person as blessed as my self or anyone reading this i thank god for giving me the strenght i need to make this life style change and i encourage anyone to stop i know it doesnt seem worth it in the beginning but i have goals and dreams and i want to turn them into reality and i know i can do that i love myself that much! :) happy healing readers! Live your bets life now!!!!

    • John Doe March 10, 2015 1:08 am Reply

      Sounds like we are in the same shoes. I’m 25 I’ve let weed hold me back for a long time. Came from a wonderful caring loving family that has done everything to try and help me change. Talk myself into smoking being okay but the power of a loving family has helped a lot in this process. I’m working a decent job and trying to move up in the world. There is nothing more important than family!

  4. chehine February 28, 2013 3:36 pm Reply

    I actually have practically none of the above. I have been ‘sober’ for two weeks now and I AM SOOOOOOO HAPPY! I sometimes dream that Im smoking and I feel so miserable but then I wake up knowing its all over and it just gives me a boost. For the rest I talk to people, I do all kinds of things I met up with people I would have never expected to meet up with. I can remember where I put something and so on. What works for me is LAUGHTER and PUTTING ON MUSIC AS LOUD AS CAN BE AND SINGING ALONG. It makes me soooo happy. Oh, I’m so glad I got rid of that poisonous plant. I don’t need it anymore. 5have been smoking for seven years, day in day out, at least eight spliffs a day) Thank you for this extra boost! YES WE CAN!!!!!!

  5. ol skool jones August 15, 2013 4:27 pm Reply

    I posted on here before but it was never published. Well I just hit the 6 month mark yesterday. I woke up this morning and feel absolutely horrible. I just went through a very good week and thought my symptoms were finally gone. My mj withdrawals have been the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through. Incredibly scary. I moved to Oakland a year and a half ago from the east coast. For about 6 months before I quit I was hitting dispensaries daily and buying the highest grade mj one can get. Nothing on the east coast compared to this and I believe that my insanely bad withdrawal is attributed tome saturating my body and brain with this stuff. Previously I smoked for about 15 years almost daily with varying degrees of quality weed.
    I had the week of absolute insomnia, cold chills, loss of appetite. In the 2nd month I had a headache that lasted 24/7 for about a month. It was torture and is still around somewhat, just not as bad and not as frequent. I had episodes of neck pain followed by horrible tmj. The tmj lasted for about 2 weeks. My paranoia about what was happening to me was torture as well. I had no idea that I was going through mj withdrawal. I was lucky that here in Oakland there are a lot of Marijuana Anonymous meeting and I was able to find a therapist that was in his 10th year if recovery from marijuana.
    Everytime these damn symptoms go away, I think I’m FINALLY through the storm, just to have them return with a vengeance. I can definitely tell that it is getting better, but sooooooooo slowly that I really have to keep a journal and look back at it to notice.
    Weed out here is a different animal than it is in any other part of the US. I’ve smoked gram pre-rolled joints fortified with Kief, all the hash I could afford, weed pills, weed soda, and all of the strongest intensity. My downfall was buying a medical marijuana card from a “doctor.”
    Today, my energy is low, I’m a bit, depressed, I have a headache and I just feel pretty off. I’ve been to the doctor numerous times and they’ve found nothing. When will this end???!!!!

    • QWAS Admin August 16, 2013 7:18 am Reply

      Hey ol skool, Don’t have any other comments from you – maybe something went wrong when you tried to post? Your symptoms do seem severe, and as an east coaster moved to California, I can support your assertion that medical grade weed is another animal. In my case however, I had quit before I moved here, so I didn’t get MM card, which I most certainly would have had it been a few years earlier. Your withdrawal symptoms sound severe. THC is gone from the body in about 30 days or less, so I’m wondering if perhaps there could be something else causing this. That’s not to say that symptoms don’t persist, including temptation, and especially anxiety and depression, but by now everything should be much less intense. What have you been doing to alter your lifestyle? Exercise? Diet? These are important factors contributing to your overall well being.

  6. alex September 3, 2013 1:53 pm Reply

    i have been smoking weed every day all day for along time since i was around 15 or so (hard to remember) i have to say this is my 3rd time trying to quit i feel powerless . i cant sit still i cant sleep i cant stomic food my heads killing me slowly and my vision goes in and out, no anxiety or any of that i do have ADHD so its hard to consintrat , i came here looking for some support and maybe some ADVISE on how to get some SLEEP PLz

  7. Monica December 22, 2013 1:39 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story and your strength for others who are trying to quit. I never considered weed a “drug” and started using it at the age of 14 for fun. It started out mild, occasional, only with friends at parties…it was something that I still associate with a lot of great memories with my friends around the time of graduation from high school. Smoking, drinking, laughing, it was great. Somewhere along the line though, everybody else stopped, and it’s like I look around and they’re all gone and I’m the fool still standing here self-medicating worse and worse as the years go on. What happened? When did I become “the stoner”? Others have gone off to college and gotten great jobs. I masked the fact that I could not cope with adult life by filling my mind with a cloud of smoke and feeding into the weed culture where it is acceptable and to “legalize”, maybe not because it should be legalized, but because it then makes it “ok” to smoke. I increased the amount I smoked with every long-term relationship I had as they became my co-dependent partners. I smoked all through my pregnancy and said it was ok because it is just weed. My son was born with pneumonia and I still did not fault myself for that. As years have gone on and goals have grown dust and cobwebs over them and have since been replaced with single motherhood and struggling to get off of welfare, it is time to clear my mind and pull myself together. I have suffered most of my life with depression and very much suffered with post pardum depression, never speaking up for help because the pain was so great I couldn’t even talk about it. Addiction runs in my family but when I started smoking I never imagined it would become a lifelong habit. My mother died from smoking cigarettes and I vowed I would never ever do the same to my children that I have had to bear the pain of her addiction. In recent years I have begun suffering respiratory problems and convinced myself it is ALLERGIES. Seriously. I developed asthma to the point that they gave me a breathing machine at home to take treatments. I would do my dose and then go off to the bowl and hit it. I found myself driving a busy highway one day with my son in the back of the car and could not breath. I pulled over and sucked on the inhaler and THANK GOD everything ended ok. It should have been my wake up call. After googling for help I came accross this site. Maybe because it is the right time in my life, it has actually helped me and I have been weed/resin-free for 7 days now. 7 days and I have been good! Feeling fine! Then today…. I could use some support. Not sure where to turn but my moods are out of control. I question whether I have PMS or it is the quitting, or maybe a combination of both, but I reached a point where I forced my children into their rooms with the door shut, not because they did anything wrong, but because it is for their own good to stay away from me right now. My mood has been swinging from bad to worse and back again with screaming tantrums, throwing things, freaking out and crying. What the hell is wrong with me?!?! Is it this? Is it this tiny little herb that should be no big deal? I cannot deal with this. As I was sobbing in the bathroom I decided to take a deep breath and write this comment. Feel free to respond if anyone is still listening.

    • QWAS Admin December 29, 2013 8:02 am Reply

      Hi Monica, someone is listening. Albeit a little late – an echo at this point ;-) . We all react differently to stimulants, and yes, weed can be powerful – don’t underestimate it. You are probably self-medicating with your pot habit, trying to suppress emotions that are too powerful for you to deal with without help. I would encourage you to seek professional help for your depression. It’s a positive step to ask for help – it’s the first step in changing your situation and it is an empowering one. Don’t frame it as a negative – quite the opposite. I think the worst thing for you is to do nothing and continue on how you’ve been going. (this is not medical advice – just words of encouragement from a friend.)

  8. T-rex July 30, 2014 3:47 am Reply

    Thank you so so much for making this site. It is profoundly helping me through the storm. I love you.

    • QWAS Admin July 30, 2014 5:00 pm Reply

      Well, that’s all I ever hoped to accomplish with it. Please come back and let us know how you’re doing – during the storm and after it settles.

  9. Karan September 20, 2016 6:18 pm Reply

    I have been Smoking for only One and a half Year and was smoking just one or two joints Regularly with an occasional part in which the number could go up to 10-12. But i Am finding it difficult to study and concentrate and and get my collage degree so i finally decided to quit last week. Will I also Face This post acute withdrawal for 2 Years.??Well that kinda scares me as I have Only smoked for 1.5 years and I have quitted a week ago. No Withdrawal symptoms expect Some terrible Mood Swings..

  10. Theresa coultas November 27, 2016 12:11 pm Reply

    Hi, glad for this site. Planning to quit at the end of this bag. Tried a thousand times before. Just can’t have weed in my life anymore. Scared of the withdrawal, but I’m living an isolated existence. …

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