Public opinions regarding marijuana vary greatly, but overall, Americans have shown a greater acceptance of the substance over time, with more states legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana each year. However, when it comes to the potential for dependence and addiction, the evidence is clear; marijuana addiction is real, and heavy users can experience withdrawal if they cut back on their use or stop using the drug altogether.

This article will explore the marijuana withdrawal timeline. You will learn:

  • How common marijuana withdrawal is
  • What the symptoms of withdrawal are
  • How long marijuana withdrawal lasts
  • How to cope with your symptoms

If you or someone you love are struggling with addiction, please reach out to First Step Behavioral Health now to discuss your treatment options.

Understanding Marijuana Withdrawal

Approximately half of Americans have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.[1] Many people are under the impression that marijuana is not addictive, however, it can be both physically and psychologically addictive. About 10% of regular marijuana users have a cannabis use disorder, and up to 47% experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug. Some studies have found more than 76% of people suffer from insomnia after quitting.[2,3]

Regular marijuana use can be defined as using it daily or several times a week. The heavier the usage and the more potent the cannabis, the more likely it is that a person will experience withdrawal.

Marijuana withdrawal occurs when someone who is physically dependent on it abruptly stops using it. Dependence develops as a result of long-term and regular drug use after the body adjusts to the presence of the drug in the system. Marijuana withdrawal can make it difficult to stop using the drug, but with the right support, anyone can recover.

Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) recognizes cannabis withdrawal syndrome as an official diagnosis. Common symptoms include:[3,4]

  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Feeling hot and cold
  • Abdominal pain
  • Minor hand tremors

Marijuana withdrawal is not life-threatening, but it can be unpleasant. Between irritability, mood swings, and lack of sleep, people can find themselves desperate for relief–reaching for marijuana to make them feel better. Without professional support, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of relapse and substance use.

Breaking Down the Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline

Marijuana affects everyone differently. The duration and severity of withdrawal depend on various factors, such as:

  • History of marijuana use – People who use marijuana more frequently, in higher doses, or for longer periods of time are more susceptible to long-lasting and intense withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tolerance level – Heavier cannabis users, as well as those who use concentrated products like wax (which contain 20-80% THC versus the average 2-6% THC found in typical marijuana), tend to have higher tolerance levels.[5] They also tend to experience more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
  • Individual health – Factors such as age, weight, BMI, metabolism, and overall health can affect how quickly the body can detox itself.
  • Previous instances of withdrawal – Reports have found worse withdrawal symptoms in people who reported previous instances of going through drug withdrawal.[6]
  • Mental health – Co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, trauma/PTSD, or bipolar disorder can worsen the withdrawal symptoms experienced during marijuana detox.[7]

How long does weed withdrawal last?

For most people, the onset of withdrawal begins 1-2 days after the last time they used cannabis. Most acute symptoms resolve within three weeks, however, some studies have found that psychological withdrawal symptoms can last for up to five weeks.[4]

What to expect when detoxing

While the symptoms and duration of withdrawal can vary based on the individual, the following is a timeline of what to expect when detoxing from marijuana.

  • 1-2 days – Symptoms usually appear 1-2 days after the last use. Early symptoms include irritability, decreased appetite, and insomnia.
  • 2-6 days – Symptoms peak in severity between 2-6 days after the last dose. Side effects include restlessness, mood swings, gastrointestinal upset, hot flashes, cold chills, sleep problems, and intense cravings for marijuana. The potential for relapse is especially high during this period.
  • 1-3 weeks – Symptoms subside 1-3 weeks after the last dose. Psychological symptoms, such as insomnia, sleep disturbances, depression, cravings, anxiety, and vivid dreams may persist for several weeks.

For most people, marijuana will clear the body within 30 days, but it’s possible to experience cravings or temptations to use marijuana several weeks or months after quitting.[8] As a result, it’s essential to develop healthy coping skills and make positive lifestyle changes to avoid slipping back into active use.

Coping With Marijuana Withdrawal

Marijuana withdrawal can be uncomfortable but it is not life-threatening. The following strategies can be used to cope with your symptoms.

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Reach out to friends, family, or your support group
  • Distract yourself with a hobby or activity that you enjoy
  • Do your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Speak with your doctor about treatments for nausea, insomnia, and/or anxiety
  • Attend a support group meeting

Your environment can also play a role in the way you feel. Limit stressful situations and surround yourself with loved ones.

Marijuana Detox and Rehab Programs

Individuals who experience cannabis withdrawal have higher rates of relapse when trying to quit compared to marijuana users who do not.[8] As a result, it’s best to seek help from a trusted detox and treatment center. Inpatient treatment is encouraged for those who:

  • Are addicted to other substances in addition to marijuana (such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids)
  • Suffer from co-occurring physical or mental health disorders
  • Have been diagnosed with a severe cannabis use disorder
  • Have been unsuccessful at detoxing on their own
  • Lack of social or community support
  • Feel as though they can’t quit without professional support

Unfortunately, there aren’t any medications approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndrome. Instead, the treatment regimen focuses on symptom management and abstinence. Symptom management may involve therapeutic medications and lifestyle changes.[9]

To avoid relapse, individuals must address the root cause of their addiction and develop healthy coping skills that support recovery. This is accomplished through a range of group and individual therapies, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI) – aims to enhance intrinsic motivation and commitment to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence.
  • Contingency management (CM) – uses incentives or rewards to reinforce positive behaviors and discourage substance use.
  • Family therapy – involves the participation of family members to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and support recovery efforts.
  • Relapse prevention – focuses on identifying triggers, developing coping strategies, and creating a plan to prevent recurrence of substance use.

Those requiring detox are also encouraged to attend a residential or intensive outpatient program (IOP) for continued treatment.

Get Help Now

Stopping using cannabis can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you or a loved one need support, don’t hesitate to ask for it.

At First Step Behavioral Health, we understand the struggles people with substance use disorders face and are dedicated to helping them regain control over their lives. We focus on the physiological rebalancing of the individual through medical, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual care.

Whether you want to stop cannabis use or you’re already struggling with weed withdrawal symptoms, please give us a call. Our team is here 24 hours a day to verify your insurance, assess your needs, and help you choose the right addiction treatment program for you.


  1. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS): Marijuana Addiction: Rates & Usage Statistics
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH): Cannabis use and cannabis use disorder
  3. National Institute of Health (NIH): Prevalence of Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Among People With Regular or Dependent Use of Cannabinoids
  4. National Institute of Health (NIH): Cannabis Withdrawal, Posttreatment Abstinence, and Days to First Cannabis Use Among Emerging Adults in Substance Use Treatment: A Prospective Study
  5. Dove Medical Press: The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights
  6. National Institute of Health (NIH): Progression of cannabis withdrawal symptoms in people using medical cannabis for chronic pain
  7. Frontiers in Psychiatry: Cannabis Use and Mental Illness: Understanding Circuit Dysfunction Through Preclinical Models
  8. National Institute of Health (NIH): Marijuana craving in the brain
  9. Wiley Online Library: Clinical management of cannabis withdrawal

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