Marijuana, derived from the hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa, is a leafy green substance that causes mind-altering effects. Although marijuana contains many different chemicals, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is mainly responsible for marijuana’s psychological and euphoric effects. According to NIDA, THC attaches to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, causing impaired memory, pleasure, lack of coordination and concentration, and enhanced sensory perception.
Despite New Law Changes, Marijuana Abuse Causes Concern
While some states allow marijuana to be used medicinally to treat pain, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, it is still the most widely abused illicit drug among teenagers and young adults, according to NIDA. The drug isn’t as addictive as other street drugs, such as crack or heroin, but it still causes withdrawal when prolonged use comes to a halt.
Although some states, such as California, Colorado, and Washington, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, there have been concerns about alternative ways to get high from THC, such as dabbing, a method where THC is extracted and evaporated into a sticky wax so it can be smoked; and K2 Spice, a synthetic cannabinoid. Other street names for marijuana are weed, ganja, dope, pot, reefer, Mary Jane, and kush.
Suffering From Marijuana Withdrawal? Drug Treatment Center Finder Can Help
If you or a loved one are suffering from marijuana withdrawal, get help immediately by calling Drug Treatment Center Finder’s 24-7 hotline at (855) 619-8070. Our free treatment finder can help you find the best detox, sober living, or treatment facility for your addiction or chemical dependence. You can also search for facilities in your area using our Find a Rehab search.
Marijuana Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
How THC Affects the Brain
When ingested, THC gets to the brain rapidly and attaches to the cannabinoid receptors, disrupting the central nervous system. Impairing the function of how cells receive, send, and process information, THC slows down the communication within brain cells. As a result, someone who is high on marijuana will begin to feel two or more of these responses:
- Euphoric “high” feeling
- Impaired motor skills
- Short-term memory loss
- Red eyes
Some people may brew or bake cannabis in popular foods, such as tea and brownies. Usually, the baked goods containing cannabis have a higher concentration of the drug. When ingested, someone may not feel the effects as immediately when it’s smoked, but this can lead to someone ingesting more of the drug than their bodies can tolerate, which resulted in the 2014 death of a 19-year-old college student in Colorado. According to Forbes, consuming edibles may have a delayed effect of one to two hours, whereas smoking can be felt in as little as 10 minutes.
Alternative ways that marijuana can be ingested are:
- Vaporizing (bongs, water pipes)
- Topical (lotions, creams)
- Pill capsules
- Sativex (oral consumption for medical purposes)
Complete List of Signs and Symptoms
An avid user of marijuana may notice withdrawal signs when they stop excessive use. Some of these initial signs can range from physiological to psychological, with insomnia and headaches being the most common symptom. Although cannabis detox and withdrawal doesn’t pose much of a threat as other illicit drug withdrawals, you should seek medical attention if you suspect you’re in withdrawal.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Abnormal eating
- Loss of concentration
- Vivid dreams
- Hand sweats
- Weight loss
- Excessive coughing
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormone imbalance
According to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, marijuana abuse has been linked to infertility issues in men and women. In women who smoke marijuana excessively, the cannabis may disrupt their menstrual cycles, making it difficult to become pregnant. Men who smoke frequently have less seminal fluids, fewer sperm count, and abnormal sperm cells.
Synthetic Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline FAQs
Since marijuana isn’t quite as addictive as other drugs, its timeline varies from person to person. Depending on the length of use, tolerance, and frequency of use, the symptoms of withdrawal can be felt within 24 to 48 hours after the last use. Although these symptoms are mild to moderate and are not life-threatening, some people may still experience severe withdrawal that can last for months. If you suspect you are experiencing severe withdrawal, you should seek medical intervention immediately.
If you are suffering from a marijuana addiction, it is not recommended that you detox from the substance cold turkey, or suddenly. This could actually cause withdrawal symptoms to worsen, leading to a relapse. Instead, many people will taper off their use of cannabis or detox under medical supervision.
Below is a general outline of the withdrawal timeline:
Treating Marijuana Withdrawal
When treating a marijuana addiction, therapists may use behavioral and holistic therapy approaches for their clients. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT allows clients to channel their depression or negative thoughts by giving them alternative ways to channel their stress and anxiety. Therapists will use this form of therapy to teach clients how to deal with any psychological or mental disorders without turning to drugs or alcohol. Since marijuana is mostly a psychologically addictive substance, someone who chronically abuses marijuana will benefit from CBT if they are self-medicating their depression or anxiety with cannabis.
Holistic therapy treats substance abuse from the relaxation and acceptance approach. This method will utilize the benefits of yoga, and spirituality to help the client have a better balance of their mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual states.
According to NIDA, there is currently no medication treatment for marijuana withdrawal, but research indicates that sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication can help with the sleep disturbance and insomnia during withdrawal. Some of these medications include:
Seeking Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one are struggling with marijuana withdrawal, our database and services can put you in touch with treatment centers in your area. The psychological effects that marijuana can have on the brain can turn into a lifetime of suppressed emotional and mental illnesses. Seeking the appropriate therapy and detox is crucial for your recovery and for gaining back your sense of equilibrium. Call our 24-7 hotline today at (855) 619-8070, and start your journey toward recovery!
Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment
For those wondering about the difference between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, the breakdown is quite simple. Inpatient treatment at a residential rehab facility are longer term programs (30 days to 60 days) for people with a severe addiction. Clients who choose residential rehab are sent to detox and then to treatment, where they are isolated from any enabling people or factors in their lives. Although these types of programs are beneficial for chronic drug and alcohol abuse, they are more expensive. Check with your private health insurance plans to see if they provide coverage for treatment. Also, many centers accept Medicaid, Medicare and offer clients a sliding-scale payment plan, depending on their household income.
Outpatient Treatment is best for those whose addictions are not severe. People dealing with relapse or a shorter addiction may choose an outpatient center or partial hospitalization for detox and treatment. These programs are shorter (30 days) and allow clients to balance their work or home lives with treatment and therapy. Another benefit of outpatient treatment is that it’s cost-effective and is most likely covered by insurance plans.
Marijuana Withdrawal Frequently Asked Questions
Marijuana Abuse Statistics
- According to NIDA, everyday 3,287 teens try marijuana for the first time.
- In 2014, 78 percent of the 2.4 million people who began using in the past year were between the ages of 12 and 20 (NIDA).
- Chronic marijuana use can cause teens to have their IQ level drop by more than 8 points (NIDA).