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Marijuana Detox: What It's Like

By Jon McKenna
Marijuana withdrawal and detox are manageable, especially if you have the right support.

Marijuana detox can trigger withdrawal symptoms that can make it difficult to drop the drug. But overcoming marijuana addiction is not impossible. The right treatment can get you on the path to recovery faster than you may think.

Think of nicotine withdrawal as a parallel to stopping long-term use of marijuana, according to an article in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. Detox is marked by irritability, poor sleep, anxiety, reduced appetite, and physical discomfort that peak after a few days and generally disappear within about two weeks.

“Everyone is different,” Dr. Aaron Weiner, an addiction specialist and clinical psychologist in St. Louis, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “THC is different than other substances in that it may be detected in fat cells a month later, so heavy use over time may take it longer to work its way out of your body. There can also be noticeable symptoms of sleep disturbance and irritability that come after normal detox.”

Marijuana Withdrawal and Detox: What to Expect

The Marijuana Anonymous organization reports that insomnia is the most common withdrawal symptom among its members, followed by depression and nightmares.

Other typical symptoms of marijuana detox cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse include:

  •  A craving for cannabis
  • Nervous anxiety and restlessness
  • Heightened aggression and anger
  •   Strange dreams
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sweating and body shakes
  • Headaches
  •  Fever and dehydration
  • Stomach pains

Marijuana users going through detox also may experience “a constant low level of anger and rage, general irritability, or sudden outbursts of anger,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The anger can be directed at themselves, close family and friends, or the world in general.”

“If you have been using marijuana frequently for a prolonged period of time, you should expect to have physiological withdrawal symptoms, just like with any other addictive substance,” Weiner says. “Someone can also expect to have marijuana cravings, an intense psychological and physiological urge to use THC products. These cravings will likely continue long after withdrawal symptoms have ceased, although they do tend to fade with time.”

He rarely sees marijuana detox situations that require immediate medical attention. Given the lesser degree of danger than other substance abuse withdrawals and the lack of FDA-approved medications for treating marijuana withdrawal or addiction, he says people overcoming marijuana addiction usually turn to therapy.

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If you or a loved one are struggling with marijuana addiction or withdrawal, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.

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