Marijuana Detox & Withdrawal
As laws on marijuana use become increasingly relaxed, so do society’s attitudes on use of the drug. In 2017 alone, 15 million Americans used marijuana, including nearly 36% of all high school seniors.1
Despite its popularity, marijuana has some negative health effects, including the potential development of dependency and the emergence of weed withdrawal symptoms when someone quits or reduces their use.1
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Yes, weed has addiction potential. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 30% of people who use marijuana show signs of addiction, and the drug is indeed associated with the potential for physical dependence.1
Someone with a marijuana addiction may struggle to manage their use even when they find themselves suffering from negative consequences, such as declining health, job loss, etc., as a result.
Rather than using the term “addiction,” many experts refer to unmanageable marijuana use as a cannabis use disorder. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed 4 million Americans met the criteria for a cannabis use disorder (CUD) in 2015 with 15 million people using the substance in the last year.1 People who begin using in their youth (teenage years or earlier) are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to develop a cannabis use disorder.1 Signs include:2
- Using more marijuana over a longer period than planned.
- Not handling major life responsibilities like going to work, caring for the family, and maintaining a home because of your marijuana use.
- Continuing to use marijuana, even when it leads to conflict with your loved ones, physical health issues, and mental health problems.
Someone regularly using marijuana does not necessarily have a cannabis use disorder. Watch for signs that their marijuana use is hurting them (e.g., causing legal problems, professional issues, and relationship conflict.) If they continue to have problems caused by their drug use but don’t cut back or quit, they may have a problem that requires treatment.2
In addition to the social problems caused by marijuana addiction, people that use the drug chronically may develop physiological dependence, meaning they will likely experience weed withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit or reduce their use.2
One of the cornerstone features of physical dependence is the emergence of withdrawal symptoms when use ends or is drastically reduced. As significant marijuana dependence may develop with consistent use, people can, in fact, experience withdrawal symptoms while in marijuana detox.2
Marijuana withdrawal is more likely to occur after a period of use that is both heavy and prolonged (e.g., several months of near-daily to daily use).3
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:2,4,5
- Depressed mood.
- Anger and/or aggressive behavior.
- Bad/strange dreams.
- Lack of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Stomach pain.
Though, in general, the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal may not be as severe as those associated with other substances such as opioids, alcohol, and sedatives, some health risks may arise. Withdrawal from synthetic cannabinoids (Spice/K2) may and include relatively more severe symptoms such as rapid heart rate and seizures.6
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Weed?
The timeline for marijuana withdrawal varies from person to person. In general, withdrawal symptoms may present within approximately 24-72 hours of the last use and peak around the 3-day mark.2 Symptoms typically last about 1-2 weeks.
Many symptoms, such as headaches, will diminish significantly within 2 weeks.3 Others, such as sleep problems, may persist for months after use ends.7
Those with preexisting conditions that detoxing could aggravate, such as depression or severe anxiety, may be most at risk and may see their symptoms worsen with withdrawal.4 These people may benefit from getting some form of professional help as they detox from marijuana or weed.
Medical detox involves professional medical support throughout the withdrawal process to ensure the individual’s safety and comfort. Substance detox may take place in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.8
Inpatient or residential detox is often recommended for people at risk of serious or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal management for marijuana may not always necessitate medical detox interventions, if people have been abusing marijuana in combination with other substances (like alcohol, opioids, or cocaine) or if they suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders, they may benefit from the extra support from more intensive services.8
During inpatient detox, the person lives at the center for the duration of treatment to support recovery, keep the patient comfortable, and have access to medical care should any complications arise.8
Outpatient detoxes, on the other hand, may involve the person presenting for scheduled appointments to receive supervision and guidance from a treatment team.8 These options are more appropriate for people detoxing from drugs associated with less severe withdrawal syndromes who have no co-occurring disorders.
If you or someone you love is unsure which type of marijuana detox is appropriate, a doctor or addiction specialist can help you map out your treatment plan.
Are Medications Used to Detox from Marijuana?
Detoxes often use medicines along with therapy to aid the process, but there are no current medications designed to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal from cannabis; however, medical professionals may prescribe other medications to relieve specific withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety during weed detox.3
Not all people require medication to cope with withdrawal symptoms, but some level of support is a huge benefit for anyone going through marijuana detox. Professional help, be it inpatient or outpatient, can help you stay on track, provide encouragement, and help you transition into a comprehensive addiction treatment program.
Treatment for Marijuana Misuse
For someone suffering from an addiction to any substance, detox is only the first step in a long journey of getting sober. Marijuana detox should be followed by therapy in an inpatient or outpatient program, as well as participation in some form of recovery group. At Desert Hope, we offer all levels of care from detox to sober living.
If you’re ready to find treatment for a loved one or yourself, we can help. Give us a call anytime at to learn more about drug detox in Texas at Greenhouse or start admissions to our facility online today. Or, learn more about using insurance to cover rehab costs and other ways to pay for addiction treatment.
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