Even diehard cannabis advocates have to admit that too much weed can have bad effects. Like every other drug, cannabis carries the risk of abuse and overuse.
Whether you feel cannabis use is causing more harm than good or you need to quit THC for a new job, you need to know what to expect when cutting back on marijuana. While weed doesn’t carry the withdrawal risks associated with hard drugs like alcohol, heroin and cocaine, getting 100% clean from cannabis will take some willpower. The better you’re prepared for weed withdrawal, the more likely you’ll safely reduce your cannabis consumption.
Weaning Off Weed — Essential Facts Before You Cut Out Cannabis
How Intense Could Weed Withdrawal Get? Consider Your Current Cannabis Habit
While there are many common symptoms associated with weed withdrawal, the intensity of your side effects will depend on your current THC intake. Understandably, people who’ve used cannabis for a long time will have more severe reactions than light users. Also, if you’re combining cannabis with other drugs, you’ll probably have a more challenging time coming off of THC.
For example, people who use “cannabis spliffs” have greater difficulty with withdrawal than those who only smoke joints. Unlike joints, spliffs contain traces of both cannabis and tobacco. It’s well-documented that nicotine is an addictive substance, which means spliff users have to deal with both tobacco and THC withdrawal.
A Week-By-Week Weed Withdrawal Calendar
Scientists are still studying the psychological and physiological effects of quitting cannabis, but most studies suggest patients report similar side effects. There’s also a standard progression in symptoms that patients notice when coming off of weed.
Quitting cannabis can result in a range of physical and psychological effects as the body adjusts to the absence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of what you might expect when quitting cannabis:
- Days 1-3: Initial withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and changes in appetite. Some individuals may experience cravings for cannabis during this period.
- Days 4-7: Symptoms may persist, but there’s a possibility of improved sleep as the body begins to adjust. Mood swings and irritability may still be present.
- Days 8-14: This is often considered the peak of physical withdrawal symptoms. Some individuals may experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting (less common), and increased irritability. Sleep disturbances and changes in appetite may continue.
- Days 15-21: Physical symptoms tend to diminish during the third week. However, psychological effects may become more pronounced. Increased feelings of depression or anxiety are common during this phase.
- Days 22-28: Individuals generally start to feel more adjusted to sober life. While some psychological and physical symptoms may linger, intense cravings for cannabis often reduce. Improved mood and clearer thinking may be noticeable.
Beyond Week 4:
- Months 2-3: Many individuals continue to experience improvements in mood, sleep, and overall well-being. The frequency and intensity of cravings may further diminish.
- Months 3 and Onward: Long-term adjustments continue. Cognitive function, motivation, and emotional stability often improve. Some individuals may still experience occasional cravings, but they are typically less intense.
- Individual experiences vary widely. Factors such as the duration and intensity of cannabis use, individual differences in metabolism, and overall health play a role in shaping withdrawal symptoms.
- Seeking support from healthcare professionals or support groups can be beneficial during the quitting process.
How Long Till THC Clears Your System?
Unlike what some funny weed memes suggest, you don’t need to wait 15 years for THC to clear your system. In fact, a study from the University of Bristol suggests THC usually leaves a chronic cannabis user’s body after one month. This doesn’t necessarily mean patients won’t experience withdrawal symptoms after a month, but the THC in their system will likely be incredibly low with sustained abstinence.
Again, how long it takes to eliminate THC from your body depends on many personal factors. In addition to your cannabis use frequency, your age, metabolism, and weight could impact how long THC stays in your system.
Please remember that THC is a fat-soluble compound, which means it’s more likely to linger in an overweight patient’s body. Also, some studies suggest that this “stored THC” gets released during exercise, which may lead to a second “high” sensation down the line.
How Can People Reduce Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?
Navigating weed withdrawal symptoms can be a challenging aspect of the recovery journey, but implementing effective strategies can mitigate the intensity of these symptoms and reduce the likelihood of a relapse. Consider the following approaches to enhance your recovery program:
- Embrace a Drug-Free “Runner’s High”:
- Engage in regular exercise to harness a potential natural “runner’s high.” Some experts speculate a connection between this euphoric feeling and naturally-produced cannabinoids like anandamide. Regardless, consistent exercise is universally acknowledged as a valuable method to alleviate stress and minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
- Prioritize Hydration with Decaf Options:
- Hydration is foundational for recovering from drug addiction, and opting for purified water is crucial. Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks, especially in the early stages of recovery. Caffeine can worsen symptoms such as “weed tremors,” insomnia, and anxiety. Staying well-hydrated aids in flushing THC out of your system.
- Surround Yourself with Supportive Connections:
- Withdrawal becomes more manageable with the support of trusted friends and family. The presence of loved ones not only offers emotional support but also helps in maintaining accountability for your drug recovery program. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of a relapse.
- Explore CBD-Rich Strains:
- Unlike THC, there’s no evidence supporting the formation of addiction to CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Preliminary research even suggests that CBD may contribute to addiction recovery. Some individuals transitioning from cannabis and tobacco have reported success with CBD-rich strains. It’s important to note that this CBD-focused strategy is currently in an experimental phase.
Incorporating these strategies into your approach to weed withdrawal can enhance the effectiveness of your recovery plan. As with any recovery journey, individual responses may vary, and it’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and support.
Find The Willpower To Overcome Weed
Since weed remains illegal in many nations, scientists don’t have all the details on how to effectively reduce cannabis intake. While some universities have begun examining ways to reduce THC exposure, there are still many unaddressed questions on this issue. Hopefully, as more countries open up to legal recreational and medical marijuana, there will be more info on how to taper off this drug.
If you are serious about getting rid of cannabis, then you need to have a clear game plan, support from friends and family, and strong willpower. The withdrawal symptoms will probably be intense on the first few days, but you can minimize them by planning distracting events with friends, exercising, and getting plenty of hydration.