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.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
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.