As more states across the USA, and indeed, countries around the world, start to legalize the use of marijuana, it is important for anyone who is already using or is thinking of using cannabis, either for recreational or for medicinal purposes to know what happens if they stop taking weed.
While cannabis is known to be a non-addictive substance, many users do report that if they give up the drug, either permanently or on a short-term basis, they experience some side effects. Although marijuana is known to be pretty safe, giving up any substance that you’ve grown to depend on over time can have some kind of effect on your body and mind, (remember, even people who give up caffeine experience some symptoms), so you can expect there to be some changes in both your mind and your body if you decide to stop using the drug for any reason.
Are There Any Withdrawal Symptoms?
Although not everyone who stops using weed will experience unusual symptoms, some people will, depending on their level of tolerance. As you might expect, chronic and heavy users who have been using the drug for some years are likely to have considerably more symptoms than those who were only using weed occasionally.
Some of the main withdrawal symptoms that have been reported include:
One of the most commonly reported withdrawal symptoms is insomnia, and this side effect isn’t that surprising, considering that cannabis is often used to help promote sleep. People who take any sleep aid, including pharmaceutical sleeping tablets, will often find that they struggle to fall asleep naturally once they stop taking it. Another unusual side effect of withdrawal is the tendency to have vivid and intense dreams. This is because marijuana inhibits REM sleep, which is the part of sleep cycle linked to dreaming. As this part of the cycle has been suppressed for an extended period, it will return more strongly once marijuana is no longer in the system. Luckily, this is just a temporary problem.
Although chronic cannabis use has been shown to have an impact on the user’s short-term memory in previous studies, this effect is reversible. When users stop taking marijuana for 28 days, their memory and cognitive function will return to normal levels once more.
The Munchies are one of the best-known side effects of using weed, and when you stop taking it, you’ll probably notice that your appetite drops considerably. Again, this is a very temporary effect, and usually, users will regain their appetite fully within a month of giving up the drug.
One of the more unusual side effects of withdrawal from cannabis is that former users often report an excessive amount of saliva in their mouth. This is because marijuana causes “cottonmouth” or dryness in the mouth as it restricts saliva production. Once you stop using it, the salivary glands start to function properly once more, and it takes some time to get used to the normal amount of saliva inside the mouth.
Some marijuana users take a break from weed to lower their tolerance levels so that they can spend less money on cannabis as it will take less to produce the same effect. After around a month of non-use, even if you were a frequent user you can expect your tolerance level to drop to around the same level as that of a non-user, and therefore if you start using weed again you need to take it more slowly than you might expect, since you will be a lot more sensitive to the effects.
Although those who are quitting tobacco report greater levels of irritability and anger than those who are quitting marijuana, mood swings can be a short-term problem for those who have stopped taking weed. Some heavy users report feelings of anxiety, especially if they were using the drug to help with stress and mental problems and even those who were less frequent users reported some emotional side effects. Luckily, none of these symptoms persist on a long-term basis.
One positive symptom which can be observed in those who smoked marijuana is that their lung function may improve after quitting. This is because the combustion process involved in smoking any substance, including weed, releases harmful chemicals into the body which can cause lung and respiratory problems. If you stop smoking marijuana, you’ll find that over time, you can breathe more freely and experience less coughing and wheezing.
How Long Does It Take For Withdrawal Symptoms From Marijuana To Disappear?
Although there is very little evidence of there being any long-term negative consequence associated with marijuana withdrawal, there may be a few short mild effects. This is because the user’s cannabinoid receptors in their body need to return to their normal levels, so depending on whether they were a frequent or a light user of the drug, the body could take anything from as little as two days up to as long as four weeks to return to its usual state.
While the idea of experiencing withdrawal symptoms may sound worrying, especially regarding what is supposed to be a “safe” drug, it is important to remember that withdrawal is something that is experienced with many substances. For example, quitting either tobacco or alcohol will result in symptoms being experienced, and when patients stop taking certain prescribed medications, they also have a similar experience.
Even those who stop drinking several cups of coffee a day and switch to decaffeinated beverages will notice some changes in their physical and mental state. The good news, however, is that not everyone experiences the side effects of stopping marijuana, and for those who do, they are brief. If you abstain from cannabis for as long as a month, there should be no more noticeable symptoms, and all cognitive function should have returned to normal.