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Updated on September 27, 2022

How to Quit Smoking Weed

While weed is generally less harmful than other substances, you can still develop an addiction. Substance use disorder can cause different problems regarding your health, relationships, and work life.

Knowing some tips on how to quit smoking weed can help prevent the harmful effects of marijuana use disorder. 

10 Ways to Quit Smoking Weed

Deciding to quit smoking weed is life-changing, especially if you commit to it and achieve sobriety. Here are some tips to help you on your journey to recovery:

1. Change your environment

When quitting weed, determine your triggers and avoid places, things, and people that tempt you to use weed. 

Avoid the company of family or friends who smoke. Avoid specific places that expose you to marijuana.

Get rid of the stash you've kept "for future use." These changes may seem overwhelming at first, but they are necessary.

2. Set goals

Setting goals puts you in a mindset for success. Ask yourself what you want to achieve after you overcome your battle with marijuana addiction. It will motivate you to work hard toward your goal while living a full life without marijuana.

3. Decide on an approach

Some people opt to quit smoking weed cold turkey. However, this method predisposes them to severe withdrawal symptoms, which can potentially be life-threatening.

Other people stop smoking weed by tapering their use. For example, if you're used to smoking weed five times a day, you may reduce it to two daily uses. When you reach a stable level, cut down on your dosage again.

Repeat this process until you can finally wean yourself off the drug completely. However, remember that this is safest to do under medical supervision.

4. Be prepared

Knowing things will get tough before they get better is important. This will help you prepare for withdrawal and all the symptoms that go with it.

Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Chills
  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Diminished appetite
  • Feeling depressed
  • Headaches
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleep-related problems such as insomnia
  • Stomach problems
  • Sweating or cold sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia

5. Keep yourself busy

Boredom is a culprit when you're trying to quit a habit. The best way to keep your mind off marijuana is to keep yourself busy. 

Fill your time with enjoyable activities that will keep you preoccupied. This will help you focus on worthwhile things rather than your desire to smoke weed.

6. Exercise daily

Exercise has been shown to reduce addiction cravings, according to research studies. It also helps reduce stress.

Exercise is a healthier and safer alternative for people who use marijuana for stress relief.

Additionally, marijuana use has been associated with cognitive impairment. Exercise is beneficial because it helps restore healthy brain function.

7. Plan sober activities

Organize sober activities instead of spending your days and nights with pot-smoking friends. Having weed-free events will help you get rid of temptations. 

This will condition your brain to realize that it is possible to have fun without getting high. This discovery will allow you to find joy in being sober.

8. Build a support system

Building a support network of family and friends will help you through recovery. Let your support system know that you are trying to quit smoking weed.

Voicing it out compels you to stick to your commitment because you won’t want to disappoint them. When times get difficult, you can always lean on your support system.

9. Create a new routine

Breaking out of a habit is easier if you establish a new routine. This routine shouldn't allow you to smoke weed.

The change of pace can also make this stressful situation more manageable. It offers you some structure in your day to guide your decisions.

10. Get professional help

Outside help may be needed when personal efforts are insufficient. Many rehabilitation treatment centers provide marijuana detox and other professional treatment options.

You may also consider acquiring the services of a therapist or a counselor practicing addiction medicine.

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Is it Safe to Quit Marijuana ‘Cold Turkey?’

Quitting “cold turkey” is when a regular user suddenly stops using their substance of choice. There is no transition period in between.

This method of quitting marijuana produces negative effects. It causes severe withdrawal symptoms that make the process difficult or nearly impossible. 

Chronic marijuana users who decide to quit weed cold turkey will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms. For some people, these symptoms can be overwhelming and may lead to relapse.

Similarly, anxiety and depression have been linked to increased suicide risk. This can result in fatal consequences. 

Quitting weed cold turkey may work for some people; it could pose a serious health problem for others.

What Happens to Your Brain After Quitting Marijuana?

Memory begins to improve 2 days to 1 week after a person stops using marijuana. For others, it may take as long as 30 days of abstinence.

During these times, brain receptors start to return to normal function. They regulate neurological processes such as memory, learning, motivation, pleasure, and fine motor control.

Four weeks to several months after quitting marijuana, a person’s brain receptors have returned to normal. Attention span, mental acuity, and memory improve greatly during this time.

When a person decides to quit smoking marijuana, they show significant improvements in work or school performance, relationships, financial situation, and overall health.

Other Benefits of Quitting Marijuana

Quitting marijuana provides significant benefits. Some of these are noticeable immediately. Others, like sleep problems, might take a few weeks or months to take effect. 

Some of the physical and mental benefits include:

  • Increased energy
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Better focus
  • Improved breathing
  • Healthier lungs and heart
  • Positive, balanced mood

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Why Do People Smoke Weed?

Alcohol or cocaine addiction is more common, but a person can get hooked on marijuana. This means the person cannot stop using it even if they want to, and they develop marijuana use disorder.

Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It over-activates some parts of the brain that cause people to feel a “high.”

However, it doesn’t last very long. Marijuana’s effects on the brain include:

  • Altered sensation (such as seeing bright colors)
  • Altered perception of time
  • Mood changes
  • Impaired body movement
  • Reduced problem-solving skills
  • Impaired memory, thinking, and learning
  • Hallucinations and delusions (in high doses)
  • Psychosis (especially with regular use of highly potent marijuana)
  • Weakened immune system

People use weed for various reasons. These include:

Social Use

Some people use the drug recreationally. Teenagers and young adults can use it to fit in with the crowd.

Adults use weed for stress relief. The results of a study backed this up. Some people can relieve stress if cannabis is used in low and monitored doses. However, ensuring a person only consumes low doses of marijuana is difficult.

Medical Use

There are medical benefits associated with the use of weed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved using medications containing THC from marijuana.

It’s commonly used for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Research is ongoing on marijuana’s possible benefits in treating the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Cancer and cancer pain
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

Spiritual Use

Spiritual well-being is a recognized part of overall health. People use marijuana to achieve a sense of enlightenment, meaning, and connection.

Hindus, Sikhs, and Rastafarians use cannabis during religious ceremonies. It is said that the relaxing effects of cannabis promote contemplation, personal growth, and reflection.

What is Marijuana Use Disorder?

Using marijuana can lead to marijuana use disorder. In severe cases, this can lead to an addiction to weed.

Marijuana use disorders are closely linked to dependence. The person experiences withdrawal symptoms when not taking marijuana. 

Signs of Marijuana Use Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has combined marijuana dependency and marijuana addiction into one category: cannabis use disorder

According to the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-5), marijuana use disorder (or cannabis use disorder) is determined by the user's behavior patterns. These include: 

  • Taking cannabis in larger amounts than originally intended over a year or more
  • Wanting and/or trying to cut down or control marijuana use but not being able to
  • Craving marijuana 
  • Failure to fulfill obligations at work, home, or school due to recurrent marijuana use
  • Continuously using marijuana despite the problems that it causes
  • Neglecting activities once enjoyed in favor of marijuana use
  • Using marijuana in dangerous situations
  • Continuously using marijuana despite the presence of physical or psychological problems related to marijuana use
  • Developing tolerance
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use

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Marijuana Detox: At-Home and Professional Treatment Options

The main goal of marijuana detox is to rid the body of the toxicities brought about by marijuana use. Some people do this from the comfort of home. 

At-home detox can be safe and successful for others, but it’s not for everyone. Doing so can pose significant challenges because the process is uncomfortable.

THC detox kits and products are designed to eliminate toxins and impurities from the body. People tend to use different products at the same time for an all-natural home detox. This includes:

  • Pills
  • Drinks
  • Shampoos
  • Cleansers 

However, nothing is safer than medically supervised detox. Detoxification can bring about unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This is why most at-home detoxes fail.

Many people who detox at home don’t have a concrete strategy or long-term plan. Because of this, they are more prone to relapse.  

Professional Treatment Options for Marijuana Use Disorder

Aside from detox, there are several professionally administered substance use treatment options for marijuana use disorder. These address physical symptoms, mental health issues, and psychological symptoms.

Treatment options include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This form of psychotherapy teaches strategies for identifying and correcting problematic behaviors. It helps with enhancing self-control and stopping drug use.
  • Contingency management (CM): This therapeutic management approach frequently monitors behavioral goals and provides positive rewards when the goals are met.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): This intervention aims to produce rapid change through internal motivation. 
  • Inpatient rehabilitation centers: This usually lasts between 30 and 90 days. Rehab centers work with mental health professionals for patients with co-occurring mental disorders.
  • Support groups: These include Marijuana Anonymous (MA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery Program, 12-Step programs, and many more.
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Resources

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  1. NIDA. "Marijuana DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019.
  2. NIDA. "How does marijuana produce its effects?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  3. Childs, Emma, et al. “Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress.” Drug and alcohol dependence, 2017.
  4. NIDA. "Is marijuana addictive?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  5. NIH. "Marijuana use disorder is common and often untreated." National Institutes of Health, 2016.
  6. "If Cannabis Becomes A Problem: How to Manage Withdrawal." Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
  7. NIDA. "Marijuana Withdrawal Is Real." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015
  8. Budney, Alan J, et al. “Marijuana dependence and its treatment.” Addiction science & clinical practice, 2007.

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