Unlike harder drugs and alcohol, there is still some debate surrounding whether or not when abstaining from weed actually leads to withdrawal symptoms similar to when detoxing from other substances. So what’s the answer?
Let’s start with the basics, detoxing is what happens the first few days to weeks after you stop putting whatever your substance of choice is into your body, this still applies to cannabis. When your body is detoxing, it is releasing the residual toxins from whatever you’ve been using/drinking (yes, this is also the same thing that happens when alcoholics stop drinking). Detox can usually be signified by specific symptoms, getting seriously unpleasant depending on the stuff that’s being depleted from your system.
So exactly how is cannabis detox different from others? And is it going to be as nasty as the stories of other detoxes you’ve heard about? The truth is that, yes, cannabis is quite different from other drugs when detoxing. The main reasoning is due to the fact that there still is no proof claiming that residual THC in your blood stream is toxic and unlikely causes any physical withdrawal symptoms in an individual trying to stop toking. Let me repeat, there is no proof to suggest that cannabis directly causes withdrawal symptoms.
Then why do people still say they experience symptoms of withdrawal when taking a break from cannabis?
Although cannabis has been proven to not release toxins into your bloodstream that cause physical symptoms, your psychological state can also causes symptoms just as real. Depending on how reliant you are on cannabis, like if you use it to help you sleep at night, how much time you spend high versus sober, or even if you simply use cannabis to relieve stress, these things will affect your mental state during your detox.
There have been reports all across the web from ‘no symptoms’ all the way to ‘worst week of my life.’ It appears that one of the most common symptoms that is experienced (and one that I know I have experienced in the past) is insomnia, this can last from just a few nights, to a few weeks, and in extreme cases, a couple months.
There have also been reports of mood-swings, irritability, and other emotionally destabilizing symptoms.
As far as physical symptoms are concerned, the one that I hear most people experience is headaches, varying from very mild to constant discomfort. Another common symptom that many individuals abstaining from cannabis experiences is that of hunger, and it’s different from person-to-person. Some individuals feel as if they have the munchies all the time, whereas others feel unable to eat for days on end, even claiming to experience nausea at times.
Others suffer from excessive sweating, both awake and while sleeping. (I know that I get hand-sweats when I stop smoking. Weirdest thing ever, in my opinion.)
Generally, most people only experience these symptoms for a couple days to a week, but it mainly depends on how heavy of a cannabis smoker you are, and how long you have been smoking. Other factors also determine how long your symptoms will last, such as your current psychological state, your level of daily activity, (if you exercise regularly the detox will go a lot smoother, I promise), and your diet prior and during your detox. (Pretend you’re a fish, bro. Drink plenty of water.)
But wait, here’s the kicker: Many of you will not experience any symptoms at all. You may just be able to go back and forth from toker to sober at will, possibly because you take good care of yourselves.
[Updated, originally published 3.12. 2016]