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. Recent studies out of the CDC strongly suggest 3 in 10 people who regularly use cannabis could develop a dependency. “Cannabis use disorder” is a real condition that can negatively impact a person’s life.
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 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. While everyone can have unique reactions to quitting THC, here’s a general timeline to consider:
- The first week: Most patients begin feeling cravings for THC coupled with nausea, irritability, and appetite changes. It’s also common to notice sleep disturbances, tremors, headaches, and anxiety.
- The second week: Typically, the second week is when the physical symptoms of THC withdrawal peak. At this time, some people may experience vomiting, insomnia, and migraines.
- The third week: While the physical symptoms tend to taper down in the third clean week, psychological effects may intensify. It’s common for people to feel extra depressed or anxious during this week.
- The fourth week: Generally, people will start to feel better “adjusted” to sober life during the fourth week. While some psychological and physical symptoms may linger, it’s usually during this time that intense cravings for THC reduce.
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?
Weed withdrawal can be a terrifying prospect for patients. However, there are strategies you can implement to minimize the intensity of withdrawal. Incorporating these techniques into your recovery program can significantly reduce side effects and the risk of a “weed relapse.”
- Enjoy a drug-free “runner’s high:” Interestingly, some doctors believe the natural “runner’s high” that athletes experience may be related to naturally-produced cannabinoids like anandamide. Whether true or not, every addiction recovery expert agrees regular exercise is a great way to minimize stress and symptom severity.
- Drink more water (and only order decaf): Hydration is another foundational aspect of recovering from drug addiction. It’s also essential to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks early in your recovery. Caffeine can exacerbate symptoms like “weed tremors,” insomnia, and anxiety. It’s best to stick with purified water to help flush THC out of your system.
- Hang out with supportive friends & family: It’s always easier to get through withdrawal with the support of people you trust. Your loved ones could also keep you accountable for your drug recovery program, thus reducing the odds of a relapse.
- Switch to CBD-rich strains: Unlike THC, there’s no evidence that people could form an addiction to the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD. Interestingly, more research suggests CBD may help with addiction recovery. Many former cannabis and tobacco smokers report success in gradually transitioning to CBD-rich strains. Just keep in mind this CBD-focused strategy is highly experimental at this phase.
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.