Smoking marijuana or any other form of cannabis, like any other habit-forming behavior, can become a significant part of your life, leaving you feeling incomplete and uneasy when you attempt to quit. Marijuana use disorder is a serious threat to health and well being, and so our comprehensive guide, “How to Quit Smoking Weed? (Tips, Options & Benefits of Quitting weed)”, aims to provide you with the knowledge and insight you need to understand and navigate this process.
We’ll delve into the realities of quitting ‘cold turkey’, how marijuana use can impact your life, and the negative effects that continued use can invite. Additionally, we’ll explore withdrawal timelines, the potential addictiveness of marijuana, and how your brain is affected by its use.
Finally, we will offer actionable advice. So whether you’re seeking help for yourself or trying to assist someone else, this guide is a valuable resource in your journey towards a marijuana-free life. So if you want to quit marijuana forever and enjoy the benefits of quitting, read on.
What Does It Mean to Quit Weed Cold Turkey?
Quitting ‘cold turkey’ is a term that refers to abruptly marijuana users stopping the use of a substance, in this case, marijuana, without any aid of gradual tapering or supplemental support. This method to stop smoking weed is essentially a full stop — from regular use to complete abstinence.
It’s often seen as a test of willpower, as the individual must cope with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings on their own, without any medicinal or therapeutic support. Despite the difficulties, some people find this approach empowering, giving them a sense of control and immediacy in their decision to quit. However, it’s essential to understand that this method can be challenging, particularly for heavy marijuana users themselves, due to the sudden onset of withdrawal symptoms.
It’s always recommended to seek professional advice before choosing this or any method to quit marijuana.
How Marijuana Use Can Impact a Person’s Life
Marijuana use can significantly impact one’s life, often in ways that are detrimental to overall health and quality of life for marijuana users. Regular consumption can lead to cognitive impairment, affecting memory, learning, and attention span. This can translate into difficulties in academic or professional situations, where these skills are crucial for success. Additionally, marijuana use can also interfere with motivation and productivity, inducing a state of lethargy and indifference towards responsibilities and goals.
Furthermore, chronic marijuana use can have severe physical health consequences. Regular smokers may experience respiratory issues, similar to those seen in tobacco smokers, including chronic cough and an increased risk of lung infections. The drug can also increase heart rate, posing a higher risk and potential threat to individuals with heart conditions.
Additionally, prolonged marijuana use disorder can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and in some severe cases, it may precipitate psychotic disorders. It’s crucial to understand these consequences and seek professional help if marijuana use is adversely affecting your life.
But I Thought it was Harmless
Well, a lot of people thought it was totally harmless drug use until raw experience along with medical research showed us quite the contrary. The truth was that smoking cannabis in any of its forms (or indeed consuming it in any way at all) was pretty far from harmless.
This substance is legal in some places and illegal in others, but rather than leaning on the legal consequences of a marijuana habit, we should focus on its harmful consequences. Its use is so ubiquitous that a large percentage of users will ignore negative and focus exclusively on the positive effects.
Case in Point
Back in England in the 1990’s, there was a great debate upon the safety of this drug. The BBC dedicated an entire week to this discussion (on BBC 2) and programme after programme focused on this issue. There was, of course, a panel of medical experts and an audience of marijuana users. It went something like this:
Doctor: “Smoking weed has addictive potential and may even cause cognitive deficits. Evidence shows it to be at least as harmful as alcohol abuse and drug abuse.”
Studio audience “Boo! What an idiot!”
Different Doctor: “I think its harmless”
Studio Audience “Hooray! We knew it”
So there was a rather heavy finger on the scales in favor of the “harmless” argument. There were even interviews a drug user who claimed that after heavy marijuana use, he was suffering from a range of negative effects. He cited cognitive deficits, suicidal thoughts and a severe problem with his cardiovascular system. The poor man had spent thousands of pounds on the drug and, perhaps rather predictably, had terrible financial issues. The audience whooped and booed at him and he finally fell silent. At the end of the show, whatever the doctors had concluded, the audience went home with the same opinions it had come with: Weed (or cannabis) is harmless. Facepalm!
Is Marijuana Addiction Real?
Yes, marijuana can be addictive. (The studio audience starts booing again) Over time, consistent use of marijuana can lead to changes in the brain that result in a need for the drug – a phenomenon known as addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9% of people who use marijuana will become addicted to it. This risk increases to 17% for those who start using in their teens, and between 25% to 50% for those who use it daily.
How Does Marijuana Use Affect The Brain?
Marijuana use significantly affects the brain, primarily through its active compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This substance disrupts various aspects of the brain, influencing memory, learning, and concentration. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors, which are concentrated in areas of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and sensing time. The effects of this can lead to altered perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and memory loss and problem-solving, disrupted learning and memory, and potentially, to mental issues like anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, heavy, long-term marijuana use can lead to changes in brain structure and function. Studies show alterations in the brain’s reward system, which may be associated with a higher risk of addiction. There is also evidence suggesting that prolonged cannabis use may lead to a decrease in IQ, especially when marijuana use begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood. It’s important to note that many of these changes can persist long after quitting, especially in those who use marijuana regularly over a long period.
Marijuana also impacts the brain’s dopamine system, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in motivation, reward, and pleasure. THC enhances the activity of this system, leading to the “high” sensation associated with marijuana use. However, over time and with consistent use, the brain adapts and reduces its natural production of dopamine. This can dull the user’s enjoyment of activities that were once pleasurable, leading to a lack of motivation and an overall reduction in life satisfaction.
As much as the studio audience didn’t want to hear it, smoking weed is essentially drug abuse. It has a slew of symptoms that can cause your physical health to crash. Cannabis or weed is often described as “natural” and the logic that flows from that is that it cannot therefore be harmful.
Case in Point
Me (aged about 20 or so) “It’s OK to smoke weed. Weed is natural, so it must be good“
My dad (not amused at all) “Death is natural, son” (short pause) “The bubonic plague was natural… Cobra venom is natural… Typhoid is natural… hundreds of natural and totally lethal toadstools…”
Me (Not listening at all) “Dad, you just don’t understand”
Faulty logic indeed. I was totally wrong and my dad was totally right. Let us be honest, then, and refer to it as a drug. So, let’s say you have been smoking weed for while and you have decided to quit. The reality and benefits of quitting this substance will soon become abundantly clear when you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Read this and you will never want to smoke weed again.
Timeline for Quitting Marijuana
What follows is a general timeline for quitting weed, especially if you decide to go cold turkey. People are different and of course it depends on lots of factors. The amount you smoked is important and algo how long you have had the habit. But, in general, the following timeline should be useful.
24 Hours to 1 Week After Quitting (Horrible withdrawal Symptoms)
The early timeline of quitting marijuana can be challenging due to the severe withdrawal symptoms afterwards, which typically start within the first 24 hours. During this time, users may begin to experience cravings for the drug, irritability, or mood swings. Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pain, and decreased appetite may also emerge.
As we move into the first week, these common symptoms can intensify. Users often report severe sleep problems, vivid or unsettling dreams, and pronounced changes in mood, ranging from feelings of depression to heightened anxiety. Anxiety is a particularly common symptom. Some individuals may also experience physical symptoms like profuse sweating, chills, and increased tremors. It’s essential to understand that these symptoms are a part of the body and cardiovascular system’s response to the absence of the substance it had become accustomed to, and they will gradually diminish over time. Many people claim that the first two weeks are just plain awful.
After this, the acute withdrawal symptoms begin to subside as the body adjusts. However, some lingering effects such as mild cravings, occasional mood swings, and subtle changes in appetite may persist. While these symptoms typically lessen in intensity, everyone’s experiences vary, and the timeline can be different for each person.
3 Weeks to Months After Quitting marijuana
In the third and fourth weeks, most physical symptoms should have significantly eased off, and you would start to regain a sense of normalcy. However, psychological effects such as mood changes may persist a bit longer, especially in cases of chronic substance use disorder.
In the first two months after quitting, the brain begins to recover and adjust to the absence of marijuana. Cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and learning start to improve, and the risk of relapse or drug use becomes less over time. However, it’s important to remain committed to abstinence and engage in supportive activities with family members that reinforce your decision to stay marijuana-free.
Every person’s recovery journey through quitting marijuana is unique, and understanding the timeline of marijuana withdrawal can help prepare for the process. Remember, any discomfort experienced during this period is temporary and a sign that your body is healing and adjusting to a healthier, substance-free lifestyle. You are aiming at long term recovery, so strap in for an uncomfortable journey.
The Benefits of Quitting Weed Outweigh the Pain of Withdrawal
This is important to know, but what follows are some decent tips that can help make this, frankly, dreadful withdrawal period a little less agonising.
Quitting marijuana can be challenging, but there are several strategies to make the process manageable:
- Create a solid plan: Set clear goals for when you want to quit and outline the steps you’ll take to achieve this. Having a plan can give you a sense of control over the process.
- Identify triggers: Recognize the situations, people, or emotions that make you want to use marijuana. Try to avoid these triggers, or develop coping strategies to deal with them.
- Stay active: Regular physical exercise can help manage withdrawal symptoms, improve mood, and reduce cravings.
- Practice mindfulness: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises can help manage stress and reduce anxiety during the withdrawal period.
- Seek support: Connect with people who can provide encouragement and understand what you’re going through. This could be a supportive friend or family member, a mentor, or a support group for people quitting marijuana.
- Stay hydrated and eat healthily: Proper nutrition and hydration can help your body recover from marijuana withdrawal. Eating regular, balanced meals can also improve your mood and energy levels.
- Get enough sleep: Withdrawal from marijuana can impact your sleep. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and create a calming bedtime routine.
- Celebrate small victories: Every day without marijuana is a success. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate these achievements.
To Quit Marijuana, Get Some Help
Finally, you shouldn’t have to go it alone. The benefits of quitting weed are almost endless and you will never regret ridding yourself of a marijuana addiction. The truth of the matter is that if you want to stop smoking weed for good, going cold turkey all by yourself might not be the easiest or best option. Seek out a treatment center where they provide counseling, treatment programs and professional treatment. Many of these programs can help deal with underlying issues and provide support for you as you experience withdrawal along with addiction treatment.
Remember, the path to recovery isn’t always linear, and it’s okay to have setbacks. The most important thing is to keep moving forward. You’re not alone on this journey, and there are resources available to help you every step of the way. You CAN quit smoking marijuana. You CAN put an end to your marijuana addiction.