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Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

Posted on June 3, 2023

Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

Cannabis remains one of the most common substances young adults seek treatment for.

Despite many believing the drug isn’t addictive, many people are seeking treatment to deal with withdrawal symptoms and learn how to live a cannabis-free life.

Nevertheless, studies have shown that chronic and consistent cannabis abuse can produce uncomfortable withdrawals when usage is stopped.

What is Cannabis?


Cannabis, also known as marijuana, weed, skunk, pot, grass and dope, refers to the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or the Cannabis indica plant.

However, it is the element of the plant Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that creates the sensation of a high.

Controversially, cannabis has been legalised in many countries, with many proprietors believing the drug isn’t addictive and is, therefore, ‘safe’.

Is Cannabis Addictive?

You often hear testimonials from those who have smoked for over 30 years and just walked away without any problems, but that’s not the same for everyone.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in a study that 3 in 10 people will develop a cannabis use disorder. Another study said that 10% of those who use cannabis will become addicted.

It was also stated that those who used cannabis in their teenage years were more likely to have a cannabis use disorder.

A recent meta-analysis published in JAMA cites a prevalence of withdrawal symptoms from cannabis as much as 47% among “individuals with regular or dependent use of cannabinoids.”

They continued: “Many professionals and members of the general public may not be aware of cannabis withdrawal, potentially leading to confusion about the benefits of cannabis to treat or self-medicate symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders.”

In short, this means that those who regularly use cannabis or use it for medical reasons may be unaware they are in a cycle of self-treating their cannabis withdrawal.

Think you might be suffering from cannabis use disorder? Talk to our experts today on 0800 088 66 86

What are the signs of Cannabis Addiction?

cannabis 6

There are many signs to look for if you fear you or your loved one has a cannabis addiction:

  • Craving cannabis
  • Using cannabis in high-risk situations, such as while driving a car.
  • Using more cannabis than intended
  • Needing to use more cannabis to get the same high.
  • Trying but failing to quit using cannabis
  • Spending a lot of time using cannabis
  • Using cannabis even though it causes problems at home, school, or work
  • Continuing to use cannabis despite social or relationship issues.
  • Continuing to use cannabis despite physical or psychological problems.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping cannabis use.

Many think cannabis isn’t potent, as it has been used throughout history, despite being illegal in many places, including the hippie movement in the 1970s.

However, studies on cannabis samples over time have shown that cannabis is getting stronger, with the THC concentration doubling from 2008 to 2017.

This rise in THC means the body will deplete chemicals and rely on the drug to deliver neurotransmitters like Dopamine.

What Effects Does Cannabis Have on the Body?


Cannabis is smoked through rolled-up papers, sometimes mixed with tobacco or in a bong.

However, since becoming legalised in some countries, mainly the USA, more ‘creative’ ways of ingesting THC have been created.

Cannabis can now be ingested with some edibles containing THC, such as brownies, cookies, gummy sweets, and e-cigarettes or vape pens.

When cannabis enters the body, usually through the lungs, it is passed into the bloodstream, which is then transported around the body, the feeling felt in minutes. However, when it is ingested, the body takes longer to feel the effects.

Short-term effects

Common short-term effects include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Altered sense of time and senses (seeing brighter colours, tingly fingers)
  • Impaired body movement
  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving

In high doses, you may also experience the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

Long-term effects

There is much controversial evidence surrounding the long-term effects of cannabis intake.

Researchers are still studying how sustained cannabis abuse may affect the body in the long run.

Nevertheless, cannabis is known to affect brain development.

Many teenagers begin using cannabis not fully understanding that the drug impairs thinking, memory and learning functions. This can affect how the brain builds connections that are necessary to function.

A study in New Zealand showed that those who smoked heavily in their teens and continued to use the drug into their adult lives lost, on average, 8 IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38. It also showed that these lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit.

Don’t let addiction control your life – give our expert team a call today on 0800 088 66 86

Can Smoking Cannabis Cause Cancer?

Hospital bed recovery

Cannabis that is rolled and smoked, usually with tobacco, delivers THC and cannabinoids into the lungs and bloodstream.

However, in doing so, you or your loved one also inhales toxic chemicals and carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) similar to regular tobacco smoke.

While more research is being done to understand the exact effect that marijuana has on the lungs and respiratory organs, there has been some research to find a link between chronic cannabis use and testicular cancer.

Can you get Cannabis Withdrawals?

Two men in 1-1 therapy

If you or your loved one has chronically used cannabis for a long time, you are more prone to experience withdrawals. While they may not be severely dangerous or potentially fatal, much evidence suggests that Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome exists.

As with any other illicit drug and many medicines, if you use them every day, natural receptors that cannabis replicates in the body ‘down-regulate’ or ‘thin out’ in response to external stimulation.

When this external stimulus is taken away after prolonged use, your body is forced to rely on these depleted natural receptors. Unfortunately, it takes time for these to replenish themselves.

Therefore, your body and brain crave these chemicals, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.

However, even if you don’t consider yourself a chronic user, you may still feel withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop. In many cases, the withdrawals may be uncomfortable but mild.

Smoking cannabis a handful of times may produce no symptoms, but those who have prolonged cannabis abuse may experience a plethora of uncomfortable, frustrating and irritating withdrawal symptoms.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Change in sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Cravings for cannabis
  • Sweating, including cold sweats
  • Diminished appetite
  • Chills
  • Stomach problems
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Loss of focus

Symptoms can vary from extreme to mild in each person.

While the symptoms are not dangerous or life-threatening as they are with alcohol addiction or heroin addiction, they can be very unpleasant.

If you think that you are at risk of suffering from cannabis withdrawal symptoms, talk to our team on 0800 088 66 86

How Long Do Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

A clock with roman numerals on a panelled wall

If you or your loved one is a chronic user and abruptly stop using the drug after regular, heavy use, you may feel withdrawal symptoms relatively quickly.

Symptoms may flare up within a couple of hours, setting in during the first few days. You will start feeling the most severe withdrawals between three and six days after stopping.

Within three weeks, you may only have very acute symptoms. However, some studies indicate that specific psychological symptoms may take longer to subside.

The most troublesome problem that many say affects them most is sleep issues, usually occurring in those first couple of days after stopping cannabis use. Insomnia, strange dreams and other sleep disturbances may persist for as long as a month.

Cannabis Addiction Treatment

Therapist and patient

You or your loved one may resist treatment at first, as there may be a fear of judgement for seeking help for cannabis. However, many doctors and medical professionals are beginning to understand the effects of cannabis on the brain and body.

By attending your local GP, they will direct you to the drug and alcohol services in your area without judgement.

Self-help support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous also provide help through their 12-step method devised in spirituality and have helped millions worldwide maintain sobriety.

Residential and Outpatient rehab facilities also accept those struggling with cannabis addiction. While you may not experience the devastating withdrawals usually associated with drug addiction, you will learn how to change your behaviours and thought patterns.

This will teach you new coping mechanisms you can use in everyday life.

Start your journey towards a life free from cannabis addiction by giving our expert team a call on 0800 088 66 86

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