For many Americans (as much 12% of the population, according to the most recent Gallup poll), smoking weed is considered a harmless way to unwind and reduce stress, treat pain, or party. Unfortunately, many who start using it recreationally end up smoking more and more until it’s an everyday thing. Then, when they want to stop – whether for a job, health concerns, or because it’s costing too much money – they find that quitting is easier said than done.
That’s because even though marijuana isn’t as dangerous as other, harder drugs like heroin or cocaine, it can in fact lead to physical and psychological dependence, especially when it’s used heavily over a long period of time.
This dependence can cause unpleasant physical, psychological, and emotional consequences that make it difficult to quit. So, if you think smoking weed is having a negative impact on your life or on someone close to you, we wanted to offer some things that might make quitting easier.
Marijuana Withdrawal & Detox
Physical withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting weed are relatively minor compared to many other substances. But quitting any addiction is difficult – in no small part due to the psychological grip they can have on the mind.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Emotional disturbances – especially outbursts or anger and frustration
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nightmares and disturbing vivid dreams
- Headaches – especially during the first few days
- Night sweats
- Stomach-related symptoms such as nausea, cramps and/or indigestion
- Other, less common symptoms include dizziness, shaking, chronic fatigue and kidney pains.
Most, if not all, physical symptoms subside within a few days. Psychological and emotional symptoms, however, may persist for several weeks to months in heavy users. That’s why detoxing off weed can be more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
Strategies and Tips to Help Quit Smoking Weed
When it comes to quitting, there are basically two main strategies: cold turkey (i.e., stopping abruptly) or a gradual taper. They both have positives and negatives.
With the cold turkey route, you’re going to get the drug out of your life, your body, and your wallet a lot more quickly, but withdrawal symptoms will be more pronounced. With a gradual taper, you’re going to avoid most of the physical withdrawal symptoms (or at least lessen the severity), but you’re going to have more temptation around.
Whichever way you decide to quit, there are some simple things you can do to maximize your chances of quitting the first time and staying off weed for good.
Don’t keep it around.
Like we’ve mentioned before, the mental aspects of weed addiction often make it more difficult to quit than the physical ones. Stress, pain, and other things can trigger the desire to smoke, and if you have any around, the temptation can easily become too great.
Avoid things you know are triggers.
That means taking a break from hanging out with certain friends or avoiding places and activities if you think they’re going to bring on cravings.
Get regular (daily) exercise
You’ve probably heard this before, maybe you’re rolling your eyes, but regular exercise really does help boost mood and restore healthy brain function. And since cognitive impairment is a common symptom after quitting weed, it can really provide a lot of needed benefits.
Don’t isolate yourself
Let friends and family know about what you’re going through and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. This can also help you keep yourself accountable, as most of us don’t want to disappoint others or let them down.
Set important goals
Setting goals for yourself is helpful for two reasons: it gives you something concrete to strive for, and it gives you a helpful metric for success. After all, we all love to check accomplishments off a list, right? You can list lofty goals too, but make sure plenty of them are realistic and achievable to maximize your chances of success.
Seek professional help
This doesn’t have to be drastic. Few people are going to require inpatient rehabilitation to help them stop smoking marijuana, though some may. For most, an outpatient drug program, or even just enlisting the help of a licensed counselor can be enough to give them the support they need.
Getting Treatment for Marijuana Addiction at Enterhealth
We understand that for some people, quitting marijuana can be tough – especially if you’re doing it by yourself. The good news is whether you need a little support or the help of a comprehensive inpatient program, we’re here to help with treatment options to fit your unique situation.
Our outpatient programs, inpatient rehab facility, and continuing care programs all offer comprehensive therapy and counseling for marijuana addiction that includes individual- or group-oriented counseling, as well as family involvement and family treatment.