More and more in the news today, you’ll see the lists of the health benefits that come from smoking weed. And they’re not wrong.
THC has several well-documented health benefits across the board. Taking marijuana becomes even safer with weed vapes that don’t combust the material.
But the excess of anything can be harmful, and the way you intake any substance can make it more dangerous than not. So there are reasons to use marijuana, and there are reasons to quit.
Table of contents
- How Does it Feel to Stop Smoking Weed?
- Best Methods of Quit Smoking Weed
- Professional help to Quit Smoking Weed
- Step By Step Guide To How To Quit Smoking Weed
- Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Treatment
- What Happens When You Quit Marijuana?
- Final Thoughts About How to Quit Smoking Weed
Benefits of Quitting Marijuana
With all good things comes the other side of the coin. Marijuana is not perfect, nor is it healthy to use it daily. Especially when you smoke it instead of using a weed vaporizer. There are several immediate and long-term factors that can mess with your body if not treated properly:
- Impaired short-term memory: Marijuana use can impair your short-term memory, which could potentially become dangerous
- Changes in mood: Use of the drug can cause mood swings and drastic altering of mood, which can have long-term psychological effects
- Effects on development: In teenagers and those still growing, marijuana can permanently damage brain cells, which will never grow to their fullest potential.
- Respiratory problems: Smoking weed can have similar effects on the lungs as smoking cigarettes and lead to deadly outcomes.
- Elevated heart rate: Marijuana can raise the heart rate for an extended period after ingestion, which can cause problems in those who have existing blood pressure or other coronary issues.
Ultimately, smoking marijuana in the long term can result in decreased mental health and life quality. If you feel something like this, it’s time for you to stop smoking weed.
Secondhand Marijuana Smoke
A new study in mice demonstrates that secondhand marijuana smoke can harm a person’s cardiovascular system in much the same way as inhaling smoke from regular nicotine cigarettes.
A decrease in the functionality of blood vessels can have serious consequences and lead to atherosclerosis, in which plaques form in the vessels. The conductive function of the arteries is already chronically reduced.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Studies show that up to 30% of regular marijuana users end up forming an addiction. There could be as many as 2.5 million people in the United States who regularly suffer from marijuana dependence.
This means that marijuana addiction and marijuana’s role as a possible “gateway drug” aren’t fallacies. There could be a real cause for alarm if you are consistently addicted to the drug. However, there are several ways to deal with this, and each one will be different.
Tips On How To Stop Smoking Weed
Everyone is unique, and so is their dependence on marijuana. Emotional factors might play a more significant role than financial or health issues. Whatever the reason, when you realize you have a problem and decide to quit, there are several ways you can go.
“Quitting Marijuana Cold Turkey” – For Enthusiastic Folks
Cold turkey often refers to the process of simply halting your smoking habit. It’s a good plan for those who want results fast, but you will need a game plan. You cannot simply throw away your weed and bong or your vape, and say today is the day you’re done.
Even if you’re mentally strong enough, your body might not be and you need to be prepared. Your body stores THC for weeks and months after you last smoked, which means it’s still secreted into your system in small doses daily.
It means willpower might not be enough. It’s challenging to fight biology, and biology will knock at your door in the form of severe withdrawal symptoms. You cannot simply throw away your weed and bong or your best vape and say today is the day you’re done.
If you haven’t been smoking for too long, you may be able to overcome this first and very arduous hurdle. You can push past your body’s cravings and move on. But, if that doesn’t work for you, it’s okay. Biology cannot be conquered by sheer willpower sometimes. And that’s where other options come in.
Medical Aid – For Everyone
This is one step up from quitting cold turkey but not nearly as drastic as rehab. There’s also tons of research on how effective or ineffective this is.
Currently, there’s no true, approved medication that can be prescribed to treat marijuana dependence. But that doesn’t mean other medications with a different intended purpose can help out the process.
There’s not going to be a miracle pill that will cure you of your dependence. But there are things you can get to supplement your plan and help curb symptoms that come along with withdrawals. If you’re nervous about withdrawal symptoms, talking to your doctor about this could be smart and efficient.
12 Step Program – For The Spiritual Souls
This has become famous as a program for alcoholics, but any addiction can be combated under the 12-Step Program. This approach offers anonymous support groups and sponsors who will guide you through the emotional process of fighting addiction.
This program is best for those who have an emotional dependence on substance abuse and want to seek out support. Because of this, the success rate could be better, and it hasn’t kept up well with modern science, but it’s the way to go for some. The steps follow closely to the program used by Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Ask a higher power for help in overcoming your addiction.
- Offer your will over to your spiritual higher power for guidance.
- Take responsibility for the mistakes you have made due to your marijuana dependency
- Confess those mistakes to yourself and to others who you feel safe with.
- Decide you are ready for your higher power to help remove your faults.
- Ask for assistance in removing these faults.
- Keep track of those you have harmed with your decisions.
- Make amends with those on your list.
- Continue your habit of taking an inventory of your wrongs and whom you have wronged.
- Engage in prayer.
- Come to the point of awakening and health.
This program is not for everyone, but for those it does help, it’s sworn by and might be something for you to try in your battle against addiction.
Getting Professional Help to Quit Smoking Weed
Many people try going it alone when they quit using marijuana. But that is not always the best option.
Quitting weed without the aid of a cessation program or a professional therapist is very difficult. Because of the difficulty, many will relapse.
Getting professional help is the best way to quit smoking weed. Luckily, there are several ways to quit with the help of specially designed programs and professional counseling.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Quit Smoking Weed
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to overcome addiction by having the patient focus on changing his behaviors and emotions. Since some people abuse marijuana as a coping mechanism for emotional problems, the therapy aims to get the patient to adopt healthy coping mechanisms.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy(MET)
Instead of pushing patients through recovery, motivational enhancement therapy seeks to get them to change something about themselves. This therapy involves individual therapy sessions and an initial assessment.
During these sessions, the therapist discusses the patient’s reasons for substance abuse and uses self-motivating language to get the patient to change.
The therapist also presents coping strategies and discusses them with the patient.
The patient’s behavior is constantly monitored and reviewed to encourage cessation.
Outpatient Addiction Counseling to Quit Smoking Weed
Outpatient counseling is a non-residential treatment program that does not include residential treatment. Instead, the patient lives at home and attends therapy sessions scheduled in advance.
There are various forms of outpatient counseling for those who want to stop smoking weed. These therapies can be group support sessions, marijuana anonymous, or one-on-one talking sessions with a therapist.
Residential Treatment to Quit Smoking Weed
Residential treatment is an onsite program where the patient lives at the clinic for a set period. While at the treatment center, he participates in most, if not all, of the same programs used in outpatient treatment.
Long-term inpatient treatment is best for people with a severe addiction or those who do not want to quit. But this option is very expensive, and not everyone can afford it.
Recovery From Addiction With a Therapist
Sometimes none of the above treatments are necessary for someone who wants to stop smoking cannabis. Instead, weekly one-on-one sessions with a therapist are all that is needed.
A therapist can help a patient identify why he uses marijuana and help change his behavior accordingly. Also, regular sessions can help the patient maintain the motivation needed to achieve freedom from addiction.
How to Quit Weed: Step by Step
Stop Buying/Getting It
If you have committed yourself to living weed-free, this should be your first step. Unlike tobacco or alcohol, stopping buying weed should be the easiest part of smoking weed since it is not so readily available – unless you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal. You can’t smoke it if you don’t get it. This step involves nothing more than sheer willpower.
You might feel strong urges, once your stash is gone, to pick up the phone or go over to a friend’s house to get some but find a way to distract yourself – spend some time with a loved one, go out with non-smoking friends, do something fun that does not involve getting high.
Get rid of paraphernalia
During your weed-smoking days, you probably surrounded yourself with accessories, pipes, bongs, rolling papers, grinders, etc. Once you have entered that new, weed-free phase in your life, it can only make matters worse to have all those triggers around you.
So it only makes sense to get rid of them all. If some of those accessories were expensive or hold sentimental value, you can give them away so that you don’t have to see them every day.
So it only makes sense to get rid of them all, yes, even your dab wax pen, if you have more than one.
Stop smoking weed cold turkey, just like quitting marijuana cold turkey, comes with its pitfalls and withdrawal phase. The most serious of these pitfalls is the incessant cravings that come with quitting marijuana suddenly.
The unique thing about weed is that, unlike nicotine which leaves the body relatively quickly, the active chemical ingredient in weed, THC, is stored in fat cells. Even after you stop smoking, small amounts of THC get released into your body, invariably triggering cravings.
You would think that this would help you – kind of like a nicotine replacement therapy but for weed – having small amounts of THC released into your body. Except, since they are only small amounts and your body is used to receiving more, it works against you.
Controlling cravings then becomes your most difficult and most important task. Some of the better ways to control your cravings include:
- Doing something else – Seems simple, doesn’t it? But distracting yourself from wanting to smoke weed is indeed a very easy way to control your cravings. Take up a hobby, do something you always wanted to do but were too high to start or finish and forget all about weed.
- Exercise/Physical activity – Why don’t we exercise more? It helps in almost everything, from your overall physical health to alleviating symptoms of depression. Exercise is a cure-all. Helping take your mind off of smoking weed is another thing that exercise is excellent at doing.
- Having a support system – Having people you can call in times of need is essential. Still, when you are trying to quit weed, it is doubly helpful so they can give you the support and motivation to stay away from marijuana.
- Avoid idleness – This has a lot to do with the first one. Having nothing better to do is one reason people take up smoking weed in the first place. So don’t fall into that trap.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
Since we already established that marijuana is an addictive substance, it naturally follows that once you give it up, some withdrawal symptoms are sure to follow. Symptoms like:
Again, everything that we mentioned about controlling your cravings can also be applied to controlling your withdrawal symptoms. Exercise, of course, but we can also add to that list:
- Eat healthier foods, high fiber foods, and green leafy vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to detox for weed
- Drink coffee (caffeine is a great antidote to the lethargy brought on by weed)
- Drink teas with high concentrations of antioxidants
How To Cope with Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
So it’s the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make quitting weed or any other drug extremely hard. No matter which approaches you to adopt, withdrawals will test your limits. Here are a few things you can do to tame your body when it urges you for the puff of pot:
- Get Motivation from Your Friends and Family
The first thing you need to do is involve your friends and family in your venture. They can be your biggest motivation and can help you stay positive 24/7. Without their help and support, you will feel lonely, even depressed, and might want to go back.
- Find a Healthy Replacement Activity
In addition to the high you get from weed, it also becomes a pet physical activity, even a habit, and when you suddenly stop, you most likely feel down and depressed. It’s time to find a replacement activity. You can consider watching a movie that makes you laugh, spending time with somebody who makes you feel good.
Remember, you can’t just replace this activity with any other activity. It has to be a healthy activity. For example, instead of gulping down massive mugs of coffee, do exercise, take long walks, talk to a friend on the phone, cook or watch your favorite TV show, read your favorite book, or simply read the newspaper.
- Do Something New… Or At Least Different
Smoking marijuana out of your daily routine might become boring, so you need to change it. Try getting up early, eating something different for breakfast, going to work or school from a different route, changing your work schedule, or eating something different for lunch. In short, you have to make your life more exciting by doing new things or at least doing things differently.
Also, you might feel less hungry. Still, try to eat the same amount of food you have been eating but don’t force yourself to eat.
- Curb the Urge
The cravings to smoke will show up very frequently in the early days, so you have to be very careful during the first few days. Try to avoid the triggers, the locations of the group of friends you used to smoke with.
Flee the scene for a few days ago to your favorite vacation spot, and spend some time away from home as quickly as you can after quitting smoking weed. Drinking a lot of water, eating healthy, and staying active can exponentially boost your efforts of curbing the urge to smoke.
- Trick the Brain, Minimize the Withdrawals
The simplest trick to make sure you suffer the minimum withdrawals is to set up your pot portions ahead of time and take only as much amount as you have promised yourself.
So, treat it just like taking your medication and not a recreational activity. Then gradually reduce the amount you take before you eventually stop.
- See a Therapist
If all else fails and you’re still having trouble with withdrawals, do see a therapist. You might think there is some stigma attached to it, but let’s not forget that a bigger stigma is attached to excessive weed smoking. Try to find someone specializing in addiction issues, more specifically in marijuana addiction. You may also join a support group so you can talk to people going through the same situation as you. It can be very helpful to share your thoughts with them, listen to their thoughts, and learn how they are coping with their predicament.
What Happens When You Stop Smoking Weed
According to a quit smoking weed guide produced by the University of Notre Dame, it takes about a week for the THC content of one weed cigarette (or joint) to leave your body. For heavy users, you can begin to expect feeling withdrawal symptoms 3 weeks after your last dose.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists as marijuana withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking weed the following:
- Mood swings
- Stomach pain
- Reduced appetite
A cascade of symptoms follows from the ones already mentioned, and just like with quitting smoking cold turkey, you will probably have to fight a battle against your cravings for weed. This is what will usually cause you to become irritable and anxious.
How to Sleep If You’re Trying to Quit Weed
Your body not getting any THC will affect your sleep patterns, so you might not be able to get a good night’s rest.
This is a common one with weed smokers since a lot of weed smokers like to light one up right before going to bed, so they can sleep better. But, just like with any sleeping pill, if you take it away, you can be sure that your sleep will be affected.
Less sleep can reduce performance at work or school and cause a loss of motivation to do anything. Eventually, leading right back to where we started: irritability.
However, it is important to remember that despite the realness of these symptoms, they are not long-lasting or life-threatening. The National Institute on Drug Abuse even states that “some people having marijuana withdrawal might not realize it.
How Long Does Marijuana Withdrawal Last?
Withdrawal symptoms from quitting weed smoking typically last only for a few days or, at most, weeks. Once the initial feelings of anxiety and irritability pass, some other things might start to happen.
If you were a long-time weed smoker, the very act of smoking weed became ritualized over time, and your body starts to crave THC and the environmental factors (such as the touch and feel and the smell of marijuana) that accompany it.
As Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a professor at the University of Florida, states about quitting weed, “there’s a familiarity with an experience that now will be missed”.
This sudden emptiness, which is a more subtle withdrawal symptom, might allow ex-users to begin to explore more fully the reasons why they stopped or even why they started. Dr. Gitlow describes this post-withdrawal phase as when ex-users begin to “feel feelings again”.
Despite the physical withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking weed only lasting a few weeks, Dr. Gitlow cautions that getting used to the “new reality” of quitting weed smoking can be a process that lasts up to a year. While the more immediate withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and irritability dissipate within a few days, the more deep-seated psychological problems of habitual weed smoking or any substance abuse can persist. In that case, further therapy should be pursued.
How long does it take for cannabinoid receptors to return to normal?
Cannabinoid 1 receptors start to recover up to 2 days after stopping smoking weed. In addition, they start functioning in a regular state after 4 weeks without consuming marijuana.
Again, the reasons to quit smoking weed can vary among different people. The significance of withdrawal symptoms from quitting weed can vary depending on how long you smoked weed and how often you smoked.
Whatever the case, the physical, behavioral, and mental effects of quitting weed smoking are real, and you should be prepared for them. At the same time, though, they shouldn’t stop you from doing something as important and meaningful as quitting smoking weed.