Table of Contents
Giving up cannabis can be difficult, but it is rewarding. You may not realise it, but quitting smoking weed use can have many positive effects on both your physical and mental health.
This comprehensive guide will help you understand how to quit smoking weed and get cannabis out of your life for good. We will tackle all the topics related to overcoming harmful dependence on cannabis, including:
- Helping you assess your current level of cannabis addiction and its root causes;
- Informing you of potential withdrawal symptoms and benefits;
- Giving you a withdrawal timeline;
- Recommending the best approach for quitting weed;
- Providing you with tips on how to stop smoking weed gradually.
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Side Effects of Smoking Weed
Smoking cannabis regularly for a sustained time can damage your lungs, especially when you hold the smoke in after inhaling it.
Daily smoking of weed can lead to mental health issues such as psychosis and depression. Research has shown that THC in cannabis has a small causative effect on schizophrenia.
Cannabis consumption may also affect fertility by blocking ovulation in women and lowering sperm amounts in men. Plus, it is addictive, and most people that attempt to quit suffer from withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, agitation, intense cravings, and anxiety.
Effects of Smoking Weed on the Lungs
Cannabis smoke, like tobacco smoke, contains dangerous toxins. When you consume cannabis in combination with tobacco, the risk of respiratory issues increases.
Using weed and tobacco together raises the chances of getting respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, or lung cancer.
Anxiety and Depression
Studies indicate that people with anxiety or depression may start using cannabis earlier and smoke more than most other users. Self-medicating in this way can make it harder to recover from these disorders.
The effectiveness of cannabis as a remedy for anxiety is debatable. Lower doses might help alleviate anxiety, but higher amounts could have the opposite effect.
Smoking weed regularly, or at higher doses, could worsen anxiety levels and increase the risk of developing other mental health issues and substance abuse problems.
Most cannabis users will never develop schizophrenia, yet cannabis use may add to this risk in individuals having a genetic predisposition to these disorders.
Those who start smoking young or frequently smoke are the most vulnerable to developing these mental health disorders.
Weed Effects on Memory and Cognition
Prolonged, consistent marijuana consumption can lead to memory problems, an inability to stay focused in class or at work, and a decline in motivation for some people.
The long-term consequences of smoking weed may include a drop in academic performance or job productivity. Research links cannabis to lower grades and poor job performance.
Cannabis is addictive. Research shows that 9% of all cannabis users and 17% of those who begin smoking young become addicted.
Those dependent on marijuana may be unable to stop or reduce their use. They may experience withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, insomnia, and depression.
If you are concerned that you may be struggling with cannabis addiction, the following test can help identify if you need support.
Does Smoking Marijuana Provide a Gateway to Start Doing More Intense Drugs?
There is a widespread theory that cannabis may be a gateway drug, meaning it can lead to the use of harder substances. Yet, there is no scientific proof that the effects of marijuana cause people to use more intense drugs. Most marijuana users do not become dependent on other substances.
Some studies suggest that those who begin using cannabis at a young age tend to become tolerant faster. The reactivity of their brain dopamine reward centres decreases later in life, which could result in the pursuit of different kinds of highs and an increased chance of trying more problematic drugs. In addition, cannabis users are more likely to get addicted to opioids, although this correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Many elements influence the likelihood of multiple substance abuse, including genetics and various environmental factors.
If you use marijuana daily or nearly daily, it may be difficult to quit. Even though weed withdrawal symptoms are not as intense as quitting certain other substances, they are unpleasant. However, long-term recovery is achievable. You may go through the following withdrawal timeline when trying to stop using weed.
The First Week of Withdrawal
At the start of the withdrawal period, it is common to experience irritability, difficulties falling asleep, a loss of appetite, and vivid dreams.
Cannabis has sedative effects that can lead to excess energy you may not know how to handle. The feeling of irritability can be your brain playing tricks on you to try and encourage you to give in and have a smoke.
The Second Week of Withdrawal
The intensity of the symptoms will decrease throughout the first week of withdrawal. You will experience milder symptoms in the second week, such as:
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Strong cravings for marijuana.
Be aware that you could mistake excess energy for difficulty falling asleep. Cannabis impacts sleep quality, so making it through withdrawal is a chance to get back to a healthy sleep schedule. It may seem hard, but it is worth it.
The Third Week of Withdrawal
After completing the first 21 days, you can expect to be more mentally focused, have more energy throughout the day, and possibly have some savings in your bank account (if you have been using it heavily before).
In addition, you may feel proud of yourself because you quit and realise it was not as hard as you thought.
Although some individuals may develop a physical dependence on cannabis, most cases of cannabis addiction are psychological. Withdrawal symptoms tend to be more related to the psyche than the body, and intense cravings can potentially lead to relapse or even prompt someone to seek treatment. Making significant lifestyle changes, such as adopting healthier habits and seeking support from friends and family, is recommended when attempting to manage psychological dependence and withdrawal from cannabis.
Coping with Cannabis Withdrawal
There are no one-size-fits-all treatments for cannabis dependence. A weed addiction programme should be tailored to your individual needs. Treatment comprises group therapy, personal therapy, and family therapy when needed.
To complement the conventional aspects of treatment, patients can also benefit from complementary therapies such as equine or therapeutic art to help redefine their lives and learn to find pleasure without relying on drugs.
Some patients may need medications to relieve their symptoms in the first days of withdrawal.
A cannabis addiction programme aims to show patients how cannabis affects their physical and psychological health and life. Patients must understand why they should quit and how to stop smoking weed for good.
Having a solid support system and continued care after treatment is proven to help achieve long-term withdrawal from weed. A professional rehab facility should provide aftercare support to continue helping you work on these aspects of your life.
Medically Managed Detox
A Plan for Quitting Weed Gradually
Quitting cannabis cold turkey is possible even after a long time of regular use, but it could cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Gradually reducing weed use and then quitting may be the best option. For this, you must follow a plan of action and take measures to ensure that you live an addiction-free life.
Get Rid of Paraphernalia
The very first step for anyone who wants to know how to stop smoking weed is to get rid of any marijuana paraphernalia that they have. Having reminders of the items you used to smoke marijuana will make it difficult to resist your cravings.
The second crucial step is to pinpoint what triggers your cannabis use. You need to identify external and internal triggers.
External triggers are everything external to you that can influence your marijuana consumption, such as the environment, the people you are around, or the time of day.
If every time you hang out with a specific friend, you start consuming cannabis, your relationship with them is a high-risk situation and an external trigger to your weed use.
These triggers can be anything in you that sparks the desire to use cannabis as thoughts, feelings, or memories. Internal triggers are more subtle and take some introspection to identify. For example, if you recognise you feel anxious every time the urge to smoke weed appears, it can help you discover new ways to cope with your anxiety and calm yourself down without resorting to drugs.
Alter Regular Routines
Breaking your routine can help you form new positive habits, even if it will take time. Most smokers associate cannabis use with specific times of the day, smoking becoming a ritual.
Try to switch up some of your everyday habits, like getting out of bed earlier, having herbal tea before sleep instead of smoking weed, modifying your schedule to have less free time, and filling it with activities that bring you joy.
Other Factors That Make Quitting Difficult
Many factors make quitting cannabis use difficult.
Smoking marijuana is an addictive behaviour, becoming a ritual for most smokers. It infiltrates everyday life and quitting can seem impossible.
People with anxious tendencies may use the drug to alleviate their worries.
Shy or socially anxious individuals may feel they need marijuana to be comfortable in social settings.
Hanging around those who smoke also makes quitting harder since cannabis is tolerated in many circles, and people do not want their friends to single them out.
So, factors that make quitting smoking weed difficult vary from person to person. To kick cannabis addiction down the curb, one must identify their triggers and work on addressing them.
Recovery starts with you.
Which Approach Works Best for Quitting Marijuana?
If you are trying to stop smoking cannabis, you have two main approaches to choose from: tapering your use or quitting cold turkey.
Most people prefer tapering their use since it is psychologically easier and helps reduce withdrawal symptoms. Tapering involves reducing dosage or switching from higher potency cannabis products to lower ones.
Quitting cold turkey may be a more intense process due to withdrawal symptoms. Still, it can work well for those who are unable to taper off their use of marijuana.
It is up to you to decide which approach best suits your needs, but you don’t have to decide alone. Talking to a drug counsellor can help you weigh the pros and cons of each method and navigate whichever path you choose.
How To Help Someone Else Stop Smoking Weed
Be There for Them
If you want to help someone stop smoking weed, be there for them. Talk to them about their cannabis use without judgment and help them understand what sparks their cravings.
Share your knowledge and offer advice, but do not be pressuring or demanding. Allow your loved one to decide how they want to quit and set their own pace. You can also suggest new activities to replace smoking or find something fun you could do together.
Encourage Them to Seek Help if Necessary
Your support may not always be enough when it comes to helping someone overcome their addiction. If marijuana has become detrimental to their life and they cannot stop smoking alone, suggest they reach out for professional help that fits their needs.
Support for Quitting Marijuana
If you struggle to overcome cannabis addiction, you do not have to go through it alone. Rehab centres, support groups, and therapy can provide invaluable assistance in quitting. Do not forget that it is never too late to start afresh.
Find a Marijuana Rehab Near You
If you think you could benefit from an inpatient cannabis treatment and medications to cope with withdrawal, find a marijuana rehab near you.
Professional experts can assist you with acute withdrawal and give you tools to make your decision to quit long-lasting.
Your GP can help you access local support, or a quick Google search will provide you with the information you need to find and contact local organisations.
Cannabis Addiction Treatment at Castle Craig
Castle Craig has successfully treated patients with drug and alcohol addictions for over 30 years. We are one of the leading addiction clinics in the UK, providing the highest quality of care.
Our cannabis addiction treatment programme is personally tailored to each patient’s needs based on their history of drug use and their individual treatment goals.
The Treatment Programme
We also offer a range of complementary therapies and activities which provide emotional and spiritual healing. These include drumming therapy, equine therapy, art, creative writing and mindfulness meditation.
We continue to support patients after they have completed their treatment with us by providing the following:
Start Your Recovery Journey Today
If you or someone you love struggle with cannabis addiction, we can help.
Our staff is waiting at the end of the phone to discuss your alcohol and drug problems and answer any questions you have about residential rehab or our addiction treatment programme.
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International: +44 172 178 8372
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How Can I Quit Smoking Naturally?
To reduce and eventually stop smoking cannabis, find a less potent product to replace what you usually consume or try replacement therapy and change your lifestyle and daily routine.
What Do You Go Through When You Stop Smoking Weed?
If you have been a consistent marijuana smoker for some time, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping.
Cannabis withdrawal lasts around two weeks. The symptoms peak during the first week before gradually diminishing.
What Is the Most Successful Stop-Smoking Method?
Combining withdrawal with therapy is the most effective way to quit smoking. This combination helps you adjust to life without weed, identify what sparks your cravings, and avoid situations that could trigger a relapse.
Will My Lungs Get Better if I Stop Smoking Weed?
Smoking weed fills your lungs with toxins and could lead to dangerous health issues like obstructive lung disease and cancer. Giving up on smoking weed will help your lungs start to recover and stay healthy over time.
Do I Need Help With Marijuana Withdrawal?
Some people can quit using marijuana without assistance, and others need help. Both approaches are acceptable and valid. Be kind to yourself no matter the route you take.
- Patel, S. et al. (2020) “The Association Between Cannabis Use and Schizophrenia: Causative or Curative? A Systematic Review,” Cureus [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.9309.
- Three Ways Marijuana Can Affect Fertility (2021). Available at: https://flo.health/getting-pregnant/trying-to-conceive/fertility/marijuana-and-fertility.
- Ilnitsky, S. and Van Uum, S. (2019) “Marijuana and fertility,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, 191(23), p. E638. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.181577.
- What are marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (2023). Available at: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain.
- Is marijuana addictive? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). Available at: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive.
- GoodRx. Available at: https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/substance-use/is-marijuana-a-gateway-drug.
- Is marijuana a gateway drug? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). Available at: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-gateway-drug.