Smoking pot may seem fun at first. It makes you laugh. You get the munchies. Life seems more interesting. But, before long, smoking pot stops being fun and becomes an obnoxious and expensive habit that you have to maintain.
Smoking Weed Is Fun… Until It Isn’t
You stop laughing. You get fat from all those late-night food binges. Your bank account suffers. You become lethargic, and your life becomes unmanageable. Plus, you can forget about passing a drug test to get that great job you’ve been thinking about applying for. For all of these reasons and many others, you may be considering joining the tens of thousands of people who will quit smoking weed this year. To that, we say, “Hallelujah!”
Whatever your reason may be for quitting marijuana – whether it’s because you have to take a drug test or because you just want to get your life back on track – we applaud you. It takes great strength and courage to put away the pot. The thing is, you’re probably wondering, is it okay to quit smoking weed cold turkey? Most people want an answer to this question once they make the decision to get off cannabis.
In this article, we will answer this question and give you some helpful information about navigating the process of kicking your habit.
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Cannabis Addiction – The Struggle Is Real
There are two sides to the ongoing debate about cannabis. Some medical professionals suggest that the drug can have a positive medicinal effect for those with various health conditions. Those with the opposing viewpoint insist that the prolific use of weed is leading to the moral decay of American society. We’re not here to argue whether pot is good or evil. However, we don’t endorse the use of any mind-altering substances – including cannabis. We just want to give you the straight scoop about the drug from an addiction perspective.
Marijuana addiction is not a myth.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases.” Recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use weed may have some degree of this disorder.”
NIDA adds, “Marijuana use disorder becomes an addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.”
Despite what you may have heard in recent times, smoking green is not entirely safe and without its drawbacks. Sure, cannabis has gotten some good press in the last few years since it has been legalized for recreational and medicinal use in states across the country. But, don’t be fooled. You can become hooked on this drug and experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it.
Quitting Cold Turkey – What You Should Know About Withdrawal
In the simplest of terms, YES – you can quit smoking weed cold turkey. While there are withdrawal symptoms (and we’ll talk about those here shortly), detoxing from marijuana is not life-threatening. You can naturally undergo the detoxification process of removing cannabis from your system without fearing for your safety. However; you will go through the unpleasant experience of withdrawal.
Withdrawal (or detoxification) is what happens when the body has become physically or psychologically dependent on a particular substance and that substance is suddenly removed. You could say that the body and the brain respond angrily to your decision to stop smoking marijuana. This anger manifests in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
Here are some common withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping pot:
- Stomach upset
- Bouts of anger
- Decrease in appetite
- Loss of focus
- Lack of motivation
- Decreased sex drive
- Extreme cravings for the drug
The most severe marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically pass in about two weeks, although it can take up to three months to completely shake off the after-effects of weed.
Preparing Yourself To Go Cold Turkey From Smoking Marijuana
Know this – quitting weed cold turkey is no walk in the park. You are not going to be a happy camper for at least two weeks, maybe longer. Knowing this upfront might make it easier for you to walk through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms you are sure to experience. If you expect it to be unpleasant, you won’t be surprised when it is.
If you are going to quit smoking weed, the best way to do it is just to quit. Don’t try and “taper off” and slowly stop smoking. This just doesn’t work. You will wind up smoking more to prolong the inevitable because you just want to smoke “one more time.” You are going to have to go through withdrawal sooner or later. You might as well make it sooner.
Set a date as your last day to smoke. Stick to that date. When you run out, don’t buy more. Tell yourself, “Okay, this is it! I am done!” Then, hold on to your seat and get ready to ride the emotional rollercoaster.
How To Navigate The Withdrawal Process When You Quit Smoking
The first few days of cannabis withdrawal are going to be pretty miserable. You are going to be irritable and agitated and you are going to have some pretty extreme cravings for more weed. You have to stay strong and stick to your plan. There’s no way to quit smoking except to quit smoking. And when you quit, you have to go through a detox period. There is just no way around it.
While withdrawal can be pretty intense, we want to offer a few suggestions to help you navigate the process. Adhering to these guidelines is sure to lessen the discomfort:
- Be sure and drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps you feel energized and lessens the irritability. Also, water helps flush toxins out of your system and aids the body’s natural processes in getting rid of marijuana.
- Exercise. Okay, we get the fact that jogging around the block is not going to be high on your list when you’re undergoing detox. However; exercise helps to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, which lessens the pain of withdrawal symptoms. Go on a 20-minute walk at least. Walk ten minutes one way and ten minutes back. You can do it.
- Take Melatonin for sleep. You are likely to experience insomnia for at least the first week of your marijuana detox. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that will allow your body to get the rest it needs to endure withdrawal symptoms.
- Get some natural GABA at a health food store to decrease anxiety and restlessness. This is a calming agent that will soothe you and make you feel more at ease as you battle withdrawal symptoms.
- Garner support from your friends and family. Tell the people closest to you that you are quitting weed cold turkey. If you have friends who smoke, tell them they can’t do it around you. Hang around with people who aren’t using to help you stay committed to your decision to remain abstinent.
Quitting weed cold turkey isn’t easy or fun, but you can do it. Your body may be angry at first, but it will thank you in the long-run. Need some motivation to quit? Here are nine common health problems associated with marijuana.
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Getting Weed Out Of Your System – It’s Going To Take Awhile
While most people think marijuana is completely flushed out of the body in two to four weeks, this is not necessarily true. FACT: you can show positive for weed on a drug test up to THREE MONTHS after you have stopped smoking it! This is especially true for chronic smokers or those who are seriously overweight.
Marijuana is fat-soluble. This means it dissolves in your fat cells. Just about every other drug dissolves in water and is flushed from the body relatively quickly. This is not true of weed. It likes to hang around for a while. The more fat you have on your body, the longer it is going to stay in your system. Also, the frequency of your use will determine how long the drug remains in your fat cells. The more you smoke, the longer it stays.
By the way, don’t make the mistake of spending your hard-earned money on marijuana detox kits that promise to flush your system in a few days or a week. They just don’t work. Time is the only thing you need to rely on to get weed out of your system. You’ll have to be patient and let Mother Nature do her handiwork.
Staying Away From Marijuana Is Not As Easy As You Might Think
As we have explained, you can quit smoking weed cold turkey. However; you should know that quitting on your own may not result in ongoing abstinence from the drug. Relapse is a very real possibility for you after a few weeks or months of sobriety. In fact, MOST people who quit using cannabis on their own eventually return to regular use.
It may be difficult to believe, but many people who were addicted to hard drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, and even heroin have said that marijuana was the most difficult drug for them to stay away from. This is largely due to the fact that smoking pot doesn’t bring the severe consequences and health problems found with other drugs. It is easy to justify returning to cannabis after a period of abstinence because, after all, “It’s JUST weed, right?!”
While you may have a sincere desire to quit now, and you are motivated to detox from weed, have you thought about the future? How do you plan to stay away from the drug? Are you going to form a new, healthy relationship with people who don’t smoke pot? If so, where are you going to find these relationships? What activities are you going to engage in so that you stay abstinent?
The truth is, most people don’t think past the withdrawal process when it comes to quitting weed. It may seem as simple as simply stopping, but it is actually a lot more complicated than that. Y0u have to learn positive coping skills to deal with the emotional upsets of daily living without turning to marijuana as a solution.
Consider Professional Addiction Treatment Services To Treat Your Marijuana Addiction
You might think it is absolutely ridiculous to go for addiction treatment to stay sober from marijuana. Most people do. It goes something like this, “Go to rehab for weed? Gimme a break! That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard!” However; you might be surprised to learn NIDA reports that in 2015 alone, more than 138,000 people voluntarily sought treatment for their cannabis dependence. There is a reason for this. As we mentioned, quitting isn’t as easy as you might think.
Some people simply cannot resist the cravings to use pot, even when they have a sincere desire to quit. Many choose to stay at an inpatient treatment center where they can recover from marijuana addiction in a safe and secure environment. While it may not be necessary to go to inpatient rehab and stay at a facility round-the-clock for thirty days or more, you might consider outpatient treatment. This allows you to go for treatment for a few hours a day (or at night) several times a week.
Before you completely reject the idea of getting help for a marijuana habit, why not contact us and talk to one of our addiction specialists for a free, confidential assessment over the phone? You have nothing to lose. We can talk to you about your treatment options and tell you how you could benefit from our rehabilitation services. That way, you can make an informed decision about how to increase your chances of success as you pursue your goal to stay abstinent from weed.
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If You Won’t Go For Addiction Treatment, Consider Attending MA
If you’re completely opposed to going for professional rehabilitation services, that’s okay. We understand. If you change your mind in the future, we’re here and we’re ready to help. However; if you choose not to go for addiction treatment, we encourage you to seek support at Marijuana Anonymous (MA).
Marijuana Anonymous is a 12-Step fellowship of men and women who are recovering from an addiction to cannabis. The program offers support to those who want to remain abstinent from weed. At MA, you will learn healthy coping skills that will teach you how to live and enjoy life without smoking pot. There are regular MA meetings happening all over the country every day. You can do a meeting search and find one near you.
Whatever you choose to do in regard to your cannabis habit, we wish you continued success. Quitting weed isn’t easy, but you CAN do it!
Not sure if you have an addiction to pot? Take this quiz and find out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should You Quit Smoking Weed?
If you were to ask anyone why they use marijuana, they would give you a long list of the benefits they have experienced. Some might say that it helps them feel calmer, while others might say that it makes them think more clearly or be more creative. But even though this drug can have some positive benefits, it is impossible to ignore the negative consequences of continuing to use it.
Smoking pot can have both short and long-term effects that are concerning. In the short-term, it can lead to:
- Impaired short-term memory.
- Abrupt changes in your mood.
- Effects on development for teenagers.
- Permanent damage to brain cells.
- Anxiety or panic attacks.
- Visual or auditory hallucinations, which is a form of psychosis.
- A lowered reaction time.
- An increased heart rate.
- An increased risk of stroke.
In the long-term, users can experience:
- A decline in IQ if they started smoking pot at a young age.
- Poor school performance for students.
- Problems thinking and performing complex tasks.
- An overall lower satisfaction with life.
- Relationship problems.
- Financial difficulties.
What is the Best Way to Stop Smoking Marijuana?
It is extremely common for people to attempt to stop using marijuana on their own because it is known to be non-addictive. But quitting can be hard, and more often than not, people end up relapsing. A relapse is not necessarily dangerous; but it does only perpetuate the cycle of addiction.
The best way to stop smoking weed that gives you the best chance of recovering long-term is to get some form of treatment. This means different things for everyone. Some people may need to go to an inpatient program. Others may do quite well with outpatient treatment. It is even possible to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and get the necessary support to quit there.
You will most likely need some form of support if you want to be successful in your quit. Fortunately, you have a lot of options available to you, and many people who want to help.
How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Cannabis withdrawal is different for everyone, and it can be different every time you experience it too. For example, you may have only had a few symptoms on the list the first time you quit. But the next time, you experienced even more. It can be hard to say what you might experience the next time you make an attempt.
Most people go through cannabis withdrawal for around 4 weeks in total. You may not start having any symptoms at all until the second day after you quit. From there, your symptoms may increase in intensity and then start to gradually dissipate.
Can You Use CBD to Quit Smoking Weed?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another cannabinoid that is found in hemp and marijuana plants. It is non-addictive, but it can provide a lot of the same benefits that people experience when they use weed. The main difference in use is that CBD – as long as the THC levels are low enough – does not cause euphoria or any psychoactive response at all.
There are some professionals that believe that using CBD can help people stop their use of marijuana. In one case study, that is exactly what happened.
The subject was a twenty-seven-year-old male who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He also regularly used cannabis every day. The only change that was made was the introduction of CBD into his daily regimen. He reported less anxiety and improved sleep as a result. He also stated that he did not feel the need to use marijuana at all since starting CBD.
It might be unconventional, but it could be beneficial. Of course, you should always discuss the cessation of any drug with your doctor before attempting to quit.
Is Drug Rehab Necessary for Anyone Recovering From Marijuana Addiction?
If you are addicted to marijuana, it may be a good idea to consider going to drug rehab. Otherwise, you may find that it is too hard for you to quit using it on your own. A quality substance abuse program will allow you to learn from professionals who have helped others quit using weed in the past. It will also introduce you to patients like yourself who are facing the same types of struggles in their own lives. Together, you can learn from one another and get support to continue in your recovery.
But that is not to say that you have to go to drug rehab in order to stop smoking weed. Many people quit on their own, and while they may have some withdrawal symptoms, they come out of the experience unscathed.
Everyone is different as far as what their needs are during addiction recovery. What one person finds easy might be extremely difficult for another. What matters most is that you understand that if you need help with quitting, it is available to you.
Do I Smoke Weed Because I Have a Co-Occurring Disorder?
It may come as a surprise, but a lot of people start smoking weed because they suffer from a co-occurring disorder. This means that they have a mental health problem and they use pot as a way to self-medicate.
People who are addicted to marijuana could have any of the following mental health issues:
Sometimes people are aware that they have a mental health issue, but many have never received a diagnosis.
One of the benefits of going to drug rehab for marijuana addiction is being able to get treatment for a co-occurring disorder. The staff can help determine what the condition is a prescribe medications and other forms of treatment to help.
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