Managing Cannabis Withdrawal

Have you ever thought about how cannabis use can turn into an addiction? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 1 in 10 cannabis users will develop Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). When someone becomes dependent on cannabis, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit or reduce their use. This article will take a closer look at how to manage withdrawal symptoms and sustain a long-term recovery from cannabis dependence.

Understanding Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis Use Disorder is a medical condition in which the individual consumes cannabis compulsively, despite the negative consequences associated with its use. Symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the frequency and duration of use. Factors such as genetics, environment, and mental health can also influence an individual’s vulnerability to CUD.

Signs and Symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common effects include: irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, restlessness, anxiety, and depressed mood. These symptoms may begin a few hours after last use and peak within 2-3 days. It’s important to note that cannabis withdrawal is less intense than alcohol withdrawal or opioid withdrawal, but it can still be uncomfortable to deal with.

Timeline of Cannabis Withdrawal

Cannabis withdrawal follows a specific timeline that can assist you in preparing for and managing symptoms. The first stage starts within the first 24-72 hours of quitting cannabis and may include anxiety, insomnia, and changes in appetite. The second stage may continue for up to 2 weeks and include irritability, depression, and cravings. The third and final stage can extend up to several months, and may include difficulty concentrating, and restlessness.

Managing Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms

There are several ways to manage cannabis withdrawal symptoms, including medical and non-pharmacological approaches. Medical management includes the use of medications such as sleep aids, anti-anxiety agents, and antidepressants. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication. Non-pharmacological approaches such as meditation, yoga, or acupuncture can also help manage anxiety and depression.

Lifestyle Changes for Long-Term Cannabis Withdrawal

Incorporating healthy habits can help with ongoing maintenance of recovery. Exercise can reduce anxiety and depression and improve overall well-being. Ensure a healthy diet rich in nutrients and avoid processed foods. Sleep hygiene is also crucial, create a routine to maintain a good sleep cycle. Lastly, stress management through relaxation techniques can help alleviate negative emotions.

Support Groups and Counseling

Support groups and counseling can also offer an essential opportunity for ongoing support. Support groups such as Marijuana Anonymous offer a space to share experiences and learn from others. Counseling may also be beneficial for some individuals who may have underlying addiction issues or co-occurring mental health disorders.


Cannabis use disorder is a medical condition that can be challenging to overcome. Withdrawal symptoms may cause discomfort, but managing these symptoms is an achievable goal. Healthy lifestyle changes, medical and non-pharmacological approaches, support groups, and counseling can significantly improve an individual’s overall chances of success in recovery.


1. Can cannabis withdrawal cause seizures?
No, cannabis withdrawal does not cause seizures.

2. Why do some people experience more intense withdrawal symptoms than others?
Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on individual factors such as the frequency and duration of use, genetics, and overall health.

3. Is it possible to manage cannabis withdrawal symptoms on my own?
It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before undergoing any cannabis withdrawal program. A healthcare provider can assess your overall health and recommend an appropriate program for you.

4. Can cannabis withdrawal symptoms lead to relapse?
Yes, prolonged withdrawal symptoms may lead to relapse. It’s important to have a support system in place and to seek treatment if you feel you may be at risk of relapsing.

5. How long does cannabis stay in the body?
The duration cannabis stays in the body depends on various factors, such as frequency of use, type of product used, and individual metabolism. On average, it can take up to a month for the body to fully eliminate cannabis.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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