Since marijuana contains many different active ingredients like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoids (CBD), an individual may go through withdrawal once they stop smoking or ingesting marijuana. One of the first steps in the recovery process is going through detoxification or ridding one’s system of the drug completely. Before detox, it is likely that individuals will experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
The marijuana withdrawal timeline may be different for everyone, though it will likely be more intense for individuals who ingest or smoke marijuana more frequently at high concentrations or doses.
When Do Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms begin?
When do marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically begin? To answer this question, individuals should be familiar with the half-life of marijuana. The half-life of a substance is the amount of time it takes for half of the substance to be metabolized by the body and excreted. Marijuana has a long half-life of approximately 67 days. Because of its long half-life, the drug takes a long time to work its way completely out of a person’s system. Thus, the severity of withdrawal symptoms can be heavily dependent on the frequency and the dose of marijuana.
Particularly for chronic users, heavy marijuana use withdrawal symptoms may be even more severe and uncomfortable. On this basis, marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically begin about two days after a person stops using marijuana but may continue for longer. Typical marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Increased irritability
- Aggressive behaviors
- Inability to sit still or relax
- Anxiety or depression
- Insomnia or other sleep problems
- Nightmares or crazy dreams
- Changes in appetite
- Increased sweating
- Body shakes
- Stomach issues (e.g. nausea)
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
Though the weed withdrawal timeline varies among individuals but there are some common symptoms that loved ones can look for during the withdrawal and detoxification process. With the legalization of medical and/or recreational marijuana in several states, it is likely that more federally-funded research will be conducted in the future on cannabis dependence, withdrawal and detox. There have been a few studies to assess the weed withdrawal symptoms timeline in different patient cohorts, albeit a small number of patients in each cohort. In general, the marijuana withdrawal symptoms timeline looks something like this:
- Day 1: Marijuana withdrawal day 1 can be a difficult day. In a study conducted in 2017, it was found that some individuals will begin to lose their appetite and may be prone to sweating. Individuals may also feel intense cravings for marijuana.
- Week 1: As marijuana withdrawal the first week continues, the same study found that sleeplessness peaked at day 2 and decreased thereafter, cravings for marijuana peaked at day 3 and began to decrease afterward, restlessness, sweating, headaches, nervousness, anger and irritability all peaked at day 4 and began to decrease thereafter, while appetite loss decreased after day 1. It is also possible that weed withdrawal leads to anxiety in some individuals after a week.
- Week 2-4: Marijuana withdrawal at 2 weeks usually leads to the resolution of at least some uncomfortable symptoms. However, by day 8, some individuals’ depression peaked as well as reports of strange dreams. Another study conducted in 2013 found that sleeping problems, restlessness, nervousness, depression, fatigue, general feelings of malaise and shaking decreased from weeks 2-4.
- More than a month: Most individuals will not experience more than 3-4 weeks maximum of marijuana withdrawal. It should be stated that every individual’s experience is likely unique and while some people’s symptoms resolve completely by a month after marijuana cessation, others may still feel uncomfortable side effects like vivid dreams, irritability, stomach issues and even marijuana withdrawal depression.
How Long Does Marijuana Withdrawal Last?
Some individuals or their loved ones may wonder, “how long does marijuana withdrawal last?” The duration of cannabis withdrawal symptoms is highly dependent on the individual. As a rule of thumb, most people will feel many of their withdrawal symptoms resolve after 1-2 weeks, while others may still feel withdrawal side effects close to a month after stopping marijuana. It is not possible to predict how long marijuana withdrawal symptoms will last for each person. It is likely that some symptoms like sleepless resolve more quickly than depression or anxiety, for example.
Factors Affecting the Length of Marijuana Withdrawal
The marijuana withdrawal timeline is not an exact science, but rather a complex prediction based on current and somewhat limited marijuana research. Furthermore, there are many different factors beyond the half-life of marijuana that can affect the duration of marijuana withdrawal. The length of marijuana withdrawal may be impacted by various factors including:
- Amount of marijuana used
- Frequency of marijuana use
- Co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety or depression
- Environmental factors
- Polysubstance abuse
Do you or a loved one struggle with marijuana addiction? Contact the Orlando Recovery Center for more information about treatment options for marijuana addiction and any co-occurring mental health conditions. Speak with a representative today about how to get started on your road to recovery.
Bonnet, Udo; Preuss, Ulrich. “The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights.” Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, April 27, 2017. Accessed October 30, 2019.
Hesse, Morton; Thylstrup, Birgitte. “Time-course of the DSM-5 cannabis withdrawal symptoms in poly-substance abusers.” BMC Psychiatry, October 12, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2019.
Sharma, P.; et al. “Chemistry, metabolism, and toxicology of cannabis: clinical implications.” Iran J Psychiatry., 2012. Accessed October 30, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.