Withdrawal Symptoms from Marijuana

man with anxiety from marijuana withdrawal

Some people don’t think they exist

Will marijuana cause withdrawal symptoms if a person quits using it like other drugs do? There are many people who claim that there are no withdrawal symptoms and that the drug isn’t addictive. You may have heard these two claims repeated over and over again.

However, both of these claims are false. There is plenty of documentation that marijuana is, indeed, addictive and that one does experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting use.

Here’s why you may have heard both claims in the same breath, so to speak. The classic definition of addiction includes the compulsive use of a drug despite all the harm and destruction that results AND the presence of withdrawal symptoms when a person quits using that drug. The third characteristic of addiction is that a person will develop tolerance, which means that more of a drug must be consumed to get the same effects as before. When these points exist related to the use of a drug, then addiction exists.

Can Marijuana Create this Condition?

Yes on all counts.

In 2012, more than 300,000 people were admitted to treatment programs to get help for marijuana addiction. (Actually, it was more than this because this number only includes people who went into publicly-funded programs.) These are people who needed support to stop ruining their lives with marijuana consumption. Since only about one person in ten who needs treatment gets it, this means that more than three million Americans were addicted to this drug in 2012.

The Arapahoe House is a treatment facility that accepts teens for treatment. They recently reported that the number of teens being admitted for treatment of marijuana addiction has risen 66% between 2011 and 2014. It’s important to note that marijuana is far more addictive for a young person than an adult. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has calculated that 9% of all people using marijuana will wind up addicted. But when use starts in the teenage years, that number jumps to 17%—something parents should realize.

Recent Studies Provide Proof of Withdrawal Symptoms for Marijuana

There have been a couple of significant studies in the last few years that provide insight into the phenomenon of marijuana withdrawal.

In 2012, an Australia study monitored the effects suffered when 49 people addicted to marijuana quit using the drug. This group reported: “irritability, sleep difficulties and other symptoms that affected their ability to work and their relationships.”

The study also isolated the symptoms that interfered the most with their daily lives. These problematic symptoms included:

  • physical tension
  • sleep problems
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • loss of appetite.

Then, in 2014, a study followed the symptoms of 76 teens admitted to a substance abuse clinic for treatment of marijuana addiction. Of these, 36 experienced the withdrawal symptoms listed above.

What Conclusion Would You Draw?

Gradually, our society is coming to grips with the fact that this drug is addictive. Perhaps the most important element of addiction to consider is the compulsion to continue to use this drug, even though bad things are happening in your life. A common phenomenon experienced by a chronic marijuana user is seeing the harmful effects happening and not even caring, as heavy marijuana use tends to create a numbness or apathy.

Hopefully, this will clarify the subject for you. If you are using this drug, you now know what to expect when you quit. If you need help quitting and just as importantly, getting your life back on track, call us. We help people recover their ability to live productive, enjoyable lives every day.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.