Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline: Explanation, Tips, and Advice
A common myth among marijuana users is that quitting will not lead to any withdrawal symptoms or side effects. However, in truth, many people who quit marijuana do suffer from withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are so common that “Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome” is now included by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
Generally, for heavy users, the effects of marijuana withdrawal begin within 24 hours of the last time they use the substance, peak within three days, and subside after a week or two (NIDA, 2021).https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
The content on this page is intended to be a guide to the marijuana withdrawal timeline as experienced by the “average” person. We want to help you be aware and prepared for what might be in store if you plan to quit or take a break.
On This Page
What is Marijuana Withdrawal?
Marijuana Withdrawal refers to the mental and physical effects a person experiences after quitting marijuana. It occurs most commonly if you have been using marijuana for a long time and stop suddenly. Still, the intensity and duration of symptoms vary significantly from person to person (Hesse et al., 2013).https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-13-258
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms occur primarily in those who have been using marijuana daily for a significant period of time, and the syndrome is not life-threatening (Budney et al., 2003).https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12943018/ But it can be uncomfortable, and it can pose itself as a hurdle to those who wish to quit, cut down on, or regulate their consumption of weed.
What are the Most Common Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal?
According to the DSM-5, the handbook on mental disorders relied on by most healthcare professions in the USA and internationally, the most common symptoms of marijuna withdrawal are:
1. Irritability, anger, or aggression.
2. Nervousness or anxiety.
3. Sleep difficulty (e.g., insomnia, disturbing dreams).
4. Decreased appetite or weight loss.
6. Depressed mood.
7. At least one of the following physical symptoms causing significant discomfort: abdominal pain, shakiness/tremors, sweating, fever, chills, or headache.Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association, 2013
However, the above list is does not include all possible symptoms, and symptoms do vary from person to person. After quitting marijuana, other commonly reported symptoms include cravings, heart palpitations, panic attacks, brain fog, and loss of concentration (Heaney, 2005).https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16216154/
How Long Does Weed Withdrawal Last?
For most, the symptoms of weed withdrawal last for one to two weeks after peaking between days two and six. While the symptoms may sound intimidating, hundreds of thousands of people overcome marijuana withdrawal every year without experiencing any significant impact on their day-to-day life (Herrmann et al., 2015).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4747417/
Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
As per research published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and other sources cited on this page, the table and timeline set out below summarizes the different cannabis withdrawal symptoms you can expect to receive and when you can expect to receive them after quitting (Budney et al., 2003):https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12943018/
|Time||Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms|
|24 – 72 Hours||You may experience irritability, sleep disturbance, and anxiety during the first few days of withdrawal. Other symptoms can include nausea, stomach issues, headaches, and cold sweats. Cravings are also very common during this time and may be intense but subside over time.|
|72 Hours – 1 Week||It is during this time that you can expect any withdrawal symptoms you’re experiencing to peak. Many people experience heavier cold sweats, restlessness, and sleep difficulty during this time. Symptoms typically subside towards the end of the week.|
|1 Week – 2 Weeks||Typically, the most intense physical symptoms begin to subside significantly. It is common for sleep disturbances, depression, mild cravings, and mood swings to persist.|
|2 Weeks – 1 Month||During this period, symptoms will continue to steadily decrease in intensity and frequency. Most remaining symptoms will be psychological.|
|1 Month +||At this time, most acute symptoms of marijuana withdrawal should have ceased. You may continue to feel occasional cravings, but these will typically be much milder than those you experienced during the earlier periods.|
24 – 72 Hours
During the first few days of marijuana withdrawal, many users experience irritability, sleep disturbance, and anxiety. Other symptoms and side effects can also begin to develop during this period, including nausea, stomach issues, headaches, loss of appetite, and cold sweats at night. Cravings are also very common during this time and can be intense. Cravings subside over time.
While this period can be difficult, there are ways that you can prepare for it. You may wish to consider quitting cannabis on a Thursday night, allowing you to spend the weekend resting throughout your symptoms. If possible, having a family member or close friend nearby to support you can be helpful.
Making it through this period can feel hard – but it will be a significant achievement. Every hour you hold firm is an hour towards never having to go through the withdrawal experience again.
It is worth noting that many users will experience no physical symptoms of withdrawal at this stage at all – unlike withdrawal from drugs like alcohol and heroin, symptoms resulting from physical dependence on marijuana are comparatively less common.
72 Hours – 1 Week
During this period, you can expect any withdrawal symptoms you experienced in the first 72 hours to peak. Many people experience heavier cold sweats, restlessness, and sleep difficulty. Physical symptoms like abdominal pain and shakes are more likely and may become more intense during this time.
Towards the end of the week, physical and “flu-like” symptoms should begin to subside. However, as the physical symptoms fade, the mental symptoms of withdrawal can become stronger. As early motivation fades, you may start to experience greater restlessness, depression, and anxiety, which may hinder your sleep.
It is common for cravings to continue throughout this period. You should consider putting strategies in place to deal with these.https://www.smartrecovery.org/5-ways-to-deal-with-urges-and-cravings/
1 Week – 2 Weeks
After the first week of marijuana withdrawal, most people find that most of their symptoms subside entirely or at least enough such that they are much more comfortable. However, some symptoms are likely to continue – the most common of these are:
- Continued sleep disturbances,
- Depression and anxiety,
- Loss of appetite and associated weight loss,
- Lack of energy and motivation,
- Mood swings,
Most of these symptoms should be mild, but they can still be intense depending on how much cannabis you were using before you stopped.
While cravings should begin to become less common and more sporadic, you should be prepared for them to continue throughout this period and moving forward.
2 Weeks – 1 Month
During this period, symptoms will continue to steadily decrease in intensity and frequency. Most remaining symptoms are mental – including depression, sleep disturbance, and brain fog. This period of time should feel much easier than the time that came before it – it is rare for anyone to experience any significant symptoms during this time.
1 Month +
At the one-month mark, most people are “out of the woods”, and any acute symptoms of marijuana withdrawal should be behind you. This is primarily because the cannabinoid 1 receptors in your brain return to their normal functioning at around this time (Bonnet & Preuss, 2017).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414724/
You may continue to feel occasional cravings, but these will typically be much milder than those you experienced during the earlier periods.
Some people may continue to experience symptoms of psychological dependence, including irritability, lethargy, anxiety, and depression.https://americanaddictioncenters.org/the-addiction-cycle/psychological-dependence You may also continue to experience some level of brain fog, though this will usually have subsided from where it was when you were still using marijuana and the early days of withdrawal.
What Factors can Affect the Withdrawal Timeline
The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal occur most significantly in those that have been using the drug for an extended period of time and stop suddenly, but the intensity and duration of symptoms are different for everyone. The following factors may affect the likelihood of you experiencing significant symptoms over a greater timeline:
- Symptoms tend to affect women more strongly (Herrmann et al., 2015)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4747417/
- Using large amounts of cannabis over a long period
- Use of additional substances such as alcohol and nicotine
- Having pre-existing anxiety or depression
Side Effects to Watch Out For
If your withdrawal symptoms feel particularly intense, it is advisable to seek help from your doctor or another qualified medical professional. Withdrawal symptoms to be aware of and watch out for include:
- Long term continued loss of appetite leading to weight loss
- Significant weight gain
- Absolute insomnia that doesn’t subside within a few days
- Persistent pain of any type, including nausea and abdominal pain
- Stomach issues
- Severe depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation
While these symptoms are typically rare, they may indicate another condition and should be discussed with a professional.
Where to Seek Help if You’re Struggling with Marijuana Withdrawal or Dependence
If you are struggling with the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, or have tried quitting many times without success, we recommend talking to your doctor – they will be able to assess whether in-patient or outpatient addiction therapy would be suitable for you.
If you don’t feel like your circumstances require medical intervention at this time, you can also consider joining a support group or online forum, like Marijuana Anonymous or /r/leaves.https://leaveweed.org/weed-free-communities/
If you need immediate assistance, there are many free helplines available that will provide quick and confidential assistance. Please click here to find a helpline near you.https://findahelpline.com/
Can Marijuana Withdrawal be Prevented? (Treatment Options)
Unfortunately, marijuana withdrawal cannot be prevented; there are no current medications or treatments approved to treat Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome specifically. If your marijuana use was to a level that marijuana withdrawal occurs, there is no way to prevent it entirely.
Despite the above, research is active in this area, and there are several treatments and strategies that can be used to mitigate certain specific symptoms of marijuana withdrawal:
How to Mitigate the Symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal
First, you may wish to consider that mitigating the symptoms might not be in your best interests. If you are committed, informed, and prepared to quit cannabis entirely, then the generally mild symptoms that marijuana withdrawal imposes could be taken as a “challenge” to overcome. Keep hydrated, sleep when you can, and you should be able to get through it.
However, if you are experiencing particularly intense symptoms of cannabis withdrawal after quitting “cold turkey”, you may wish to consider whether tapering would be more appropriate for you.https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/treatment-program/related/drug-tapering/ Tapering can enable you to slowly reduce your marijuana use and to minimize the symptoms when you ultimately stop using the drug. However, even with tapering, symptoms of withdrawal may still be present.
Most people who quit cannabis are able to do so without any further assistance, but if you feel that medication or medical assistance may be required in your case, there are a few potential treatment options available that you can discuss with your doctor or another qualified healthcare professonal:
- SSRIs can help over the long term with feelings of depression and anxiety. Serotonin is a “mood stabilizer” that, when experienced at normal levels, can make us feel happier, calmer, and less anxious. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain (Hofmann et al., 2017).https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28440699/
- Nitrazepam, Lithium (Allsop et al., 2015),https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4582056/, Mirtazapine (Haney et al., 2010),https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017212#ref-CR41 and Ambien (Vandrey et al., 2011) have all been shown to mitigate the symptoms of sleep disturbance during cannabis withdrawal.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119729/