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The Basics of Marijuana Rehabilitation

Despite marijuana still being classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and another 14 states allowed restricted use of medical marijuana, as of 2019. Medical marijuana users choose the drug to alleviate pain, decrease inflammation, increase appetite, and reduce nausea. These perks may be helpful to people undergoing chemotherapy or who suffer from painful afflictions, including arthritis. Some users have also found it beneficial in helping control epileptic seizures.

Medical marijuana may contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering ingredient that makes the user feel “high,” but medicinal users typically look for products low in THC and high in CBD. Unlike THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive, which means it lacks the intoxication factor. Users looking just for the high or euphoric feeling generally stick with products high in THC. While legalized in fewer states, recreational marijuana use was legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia as of 2019.

Individuals entering marijuana rehabilitation typically have been using the drug predominantly daily and have tried to quit several times without success. The first step is to rid your body of the effects of marijuana through detoxification. Although marijuana isn’t physically addictive in the same way as other drugs, withdrawal symptoms do occur. These symptoms tend to be less severe in relation to other drugs and typically subside after about one week.

After detox, you may choose an outpatient program for a mild form of marijuana dependence or an inpatient program for a severe addiction or to kickstart your recovery. Because marijuana produces a psychological dependence, more than a physical one, treatment typically includes behavioral therapy – particularly cognitive behavioral therapy – and support groups. Inpatient rehab programs typically last between 30 and 90 days, followed by attending marijuana-based support groups modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous to receive mutual support from others in recovery.

Description of the Four Steps of the Rehab Process

For more information, read our guide to the rehab process

What Makes Marijuana Rehabilitation Difficult?

Despite being classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the use of marijuana increased more than 5% between 2007 and 2017 in the United States. Schedule I drugs are substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Many individuals struggling with marijuana addiction tend to have a history of 10 years of daily use and have attempted to quit more than six times before enrolling in a marijuana addiction program. The psychological addiction to marijuana can be powerful, and societal pressures combined with the easy availability of the drug can make quitting difficult. Withdrawal symptoms, including loss of appetite, sleeplessness, irritability, and anxiety, may also discourage individuals from quitting or cause them to relapse.

The Unique Struggle of Marijuana Addicts
  • is addictive, despite common misconceptions
  • addiction requires therapy to avoid or cope with triggers that cause relapse
  • users should explore the unique aspects of their addiction to develop a plan of sobriety with the help of their therapist
  • addiction can be difficult to overcome because it’s become so easy to buy and use the drug, especially in states where it’s been legalized

Marijuana Rehabilitation Statistics

Marijuana Treatment Admissions by Gender

70.4% Male
29.6% Female

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates:

  • 43.5 million individuals ages 12 and older — 15.9% of the population — used marijuana in 2018.
  • 345,000 individuals ages 12 and older received substance use treatment for marijuana use disorder in 2018.
  • About 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted, but the number rises to 1 in 6 when beginning use before age 18.

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are considerably more likely to seek treatment for marijuana use. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for marijuana was 70.4% male and 29.6% female. While marijuana addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for marijuana use was individuals aged 25 to 29, with 27 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Marijuana Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Marijuana Treatment Admissions
12-17 21.8%
18-24 27.1%
25 – 34 30.6%
35 – 44 13.2%
45-54 5.3%
55-64 1.9%
65+ 0.1%

Marijuana Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Detoxification starts when you quit using marijuana and doesn’t end until your body is free of THC. Part of detoxification is withdrawal, and while marijuana withdrawal doesn’t typically include severe health risks, it can still be very uncomfortable. Many symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are similar to other drugs, particularly tobacco, and are considered mild compared to drugs like alcohol, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Most marijuana withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as 24 to 48 hours after you quit. These symptoms typically peak within four to six days and last between one and three weeks. The time frame can vary based on how long you’ve been using marijuana, how often you use, and the potency level of the THC in the marijuana you typically use.

Common withdrawal symptoms include decreased appetite, irritability, depression, anger, and difficulty sleeping. If you suffer from insomnia after quitting marijuana, it may take up to 30 days before you’re able to return to a normal sleep schedule. Long-term marijuana use may also impact your memory and ability to learn, which may be a permanent symptom.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Increased appetite
Nausea and/or vomiting
General feelings of discomfort
Muscle pain
Stomach problems
Memory and attention issues
Long-Term Symptoms Insomnia
Lung damage
Cardiovascular system damage
Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
Memory issues
Lower IQ
Learning difficulties

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are real but not usually serious

Despite the misconception that marijuana isn’t addictive, and thus doesn’t cause withdrawal symptoms, withdrawal is a very real possibility. Although these symptoms aren’t usually nearly as severe as other drugs, and they’re rarely dangerous, you may experience unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms that may cause you to begin using marijuana again to find relief.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may last a long time

It’s possible that certain symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, such as mood swings, mild depression, fatigue, and cravings to use marijuana again, will continue for weeks, months, or even years after you’ve stopped using it.

Marijuana withdrawal can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts

While the withdrawal process from marijuana isn’t considered life-threatening, the distress and depression that can occur during marijuana withdrawal could lead to suicidal thoughts.

Marijuana Detoxification Medications

Although there aren’t currently any medications uniquely for marijuana detoxification, doctors may prescribe medications to reduce specific withdrawal symptoms. These medications may include non-narcotic pain relievers to alleviate headaches and muscle pain, and other medications to help relieve nausea and vomiting, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. There have also been studies to evaluate several medications specifically for the treatment of marijuana withdrawal, including divalproex, bupropion, nefazodone, naltrexone, and orally administered THC; however, only oral THC and, to a lesser degree, nefazodone, have shown promise.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide Marijuana Addiction.

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for marijuana addiction, which is designed to help a person recovering from marijuana use disorder keep from slipping back into behaviors that trigger their desire to use marijuana. A variety of behavioral therapies, which are forms of psychotherapy, can help an individual avoid and cope with triggering situations and build a satisfying life that doesn’t require the use of marijuana.

One common therapy for the treatment of marijuana addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches strategies to identify and correct bad behaviors so you can stop your drug use and enhance your self-control. Contingency management is another therapy intended to monitor target behavior and either provide or remove positive rewards when the target behavior either occurs or doesn’t occur, depending on the situation. Motivational enhancement therapy is a structured form of intervention designed to motivate your internal resources for engagement in treatment and positive lifestyle changes.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Marijuana Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Support Groups Support groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired
Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Marijuana Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also called coping skills training, is a structured psychotherapy that teaches you strategies to identify and correct bad behaviors to stop marijuana substance abuse and prevent relapse. By anticipating likely problems, you enhance your self-control and develop better coping skills for dealing with situations that trigger your urge to use marijuana.
Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives

Further reading:

  • NIDA: Contingent Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives
  • NIDA: Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders
Contingency management seeks to monitor target behavior and positively reinforce good behaviors with a tangible reward system to encourage healthy behaviors, such as completing treatment, attending counseling, and refraining from using marijuana.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Further reading:

  • NIDA: Contingent Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives
  • NIDA: Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Motivational enhancement therapy is a structured form of intervention designed to motivate your internal resources to keep you engaged in treatment and positive lifestyle changes, including refraining from using marijuana.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Marijuana Addiction

Using marijuana can lead to a substance use disorder, which can develop into an addiction. Once you’re addicted, marijuana rehabilitation and treatment can help you overcome your dependence on the drug. While many people can quit on their own, the discomfort of withdrawal often causes them to go back to using marijuana to find relief. The support and care found in a professional rehabilitation program may help you better manage your symptoms during the withdrawal process and kick the habit for good.

There aren’t currently any drugs approved for medically-assisted treatment, so therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for marijuana addiction. Several types of behavioral therapies have been found to be helpful in the recovery process, and doctors can prescribe certain medications to help ease specific withdrawal symptoms.

You may choose an inpatient rehabilitation and/or detoxification center or opt for an outpatient treatment program. However, if you suffer from severe marijuana use disorder and/or mental illness or you’re addicted to other drugs in addition to marijuana, an inpatient treatment center is the better option. Although withdrawal isn’t usually life-threatening, professional treatment makes your rehabilitation easier to handle and helps increase your likelihood of successfully overcoming your addiction.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.