You can experience withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop using cannabis. In many cases, the symptoms may be mild, but they can still cause discomfort.

Attitudes have changed toward cannabis in recent years. Many states have legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis, and more states may join in the future.

Smoking cannabis a handful of times may not be enough to cause withdrawal symptoms when you no longer use it. But for people who use cannabis regularly, it may be a different story.

Withdrawing from regular cannabis use can lead to symptoms that include trouble sleeping, shifts in mood, and sleep disturbances. Using cannabis edibles or tinctures, as well as vaping, daily and in high amounts is more likely to cause at least mild withdrawal symptoms if you stop abruptly.

Read on to learn about the possible symptoms of cannabis withdrawal and available treatment and prevention options.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3 in 10 cannabis users develop a substance use disorder. The use of cannabis comes with a 10% chance of developing such a disorder.

A 2021 study also found that nearly one-third of female cannabis users ages 50–64 and one-fifth of those ages over 65 are using it nearly daily. Among male users, more than one-third of people in all age groups reported using it nearly daily, and more than 40% of those over 65.

In addition, According to a 2020 study of more than 23,000 participants, the prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome is about 47%.

The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal may include:

  • diminished appetite
  • mood changes
  • irritability
  • sleep difficulties, including insomnia
  • headaches
  • loss of focus
  • cravings for cannabis
  • sweating, including cold sweats
  • chills
  • increased feelings of depression
  • stomach problems

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they vary from person to person. The symptoms may not be severe or dangerous, but they can be unpleasant.

The longer you used cannabis, the more likely you are to experience withdrawal symptoms. In addition, you may not experience withdrawal symptoms right away.

Cannabinoids like delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can take 1–2 weeks to completely exit your system, so it may take several days before symptoms become noticeable.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms may not be as severe as withdrawal symptoms from other substances. Opioids, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin can produce severe, even dangerous, withdrawal symptoms.

Still, many people who stop using cannabis experience physical and psychological symptoms. That’s because your body has to adjust to not having a regular supply of THC. THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. When you regularly use cannabis, your brain develops a tolerance for it.

The more you smoke, the more your brain depends on this supply of THC. As your body becomes accustomed to not having THC, you may experience unpleasant symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms can be so troublesome that people begin using cannabis again to get a reprieve.

Can CBD cause withdrawal symptoms?

Although cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce the high associated with THC, some researchers and healthcare professionals still consider it a psychoactive substance. Limited evidence exists on CBD withdrawal symptoms. That said, misuse of CBD may be possible.

It is also possible that if you take CBD to treat a condition like insomnia or depression, you may experience a worsening of these symptoms if you abruptly stop taking CBD. This effect may be more likely after long-term use of CBD than short-term use.

You should consult with a doctor before using CBD for either recreational or medical purposes, and let them know of any other medications you are taking to minimize the chance of adverse interactions.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

If you’re ready to quit, talk with a doctor or a substance use disorder specialist about your options. You may not need special instructions, but it’s always a good idea to consult someone about your decision. If nothing else, this person can be a good source of inspiration and accountability.

If you smoked regularly and often, tapering off and slowly reducing your cannabis use may help you ease into a cannabis-free life. If you only used cannabis occasionally, you may be able to stop entirely without any step-down.


In the meantime, if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms from cannabis, research has shown that some medications may help you cope with the symptoms. These include:

  • Dronabinol (Marinol): This is a synthetic drug that mimics THC.
  • Certain anxiety medications: These can help with psychological distress.
  • Certain sleep medications: These can help with any sleep disturbance.

Research is ongoing in this area, so other medications or supplements that may help could be used in the future.

That said, no medications are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cannabis withdrawal. The above medications may have side effects, so speak to your doctor to decide if taking them would be right for you.

Self-help strategies

When you’re ready to quit, you can also take these self-help steps to make the initial withdrawal period of 24 to 72 hours easier.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water and avoid sugary, caffeinated beverages like soda.
  • Eat healthy foods: Fuel your body with a generous supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, which can make you feel sluggish and irritable.
  • Exercise every day: Squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This provides a natural mood boost and can help remove toxins as you sweat.
  • Find support: Surround yourself with friends, family members, and others who can help you through any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.

Most people will not need professional help to quit cannabis. However, in some cases, you may be better able to quit and stick with quitting if you have guidance and medical assistance.

You can try out behavioral therapy with a licensed clinical psychologist. Common treatment modalities include cognitive behavioral therapy, for example.

In addition, these resources may be helpful:

Detoxification center

These short-term programs are designed to help people get through the initial drug-free phase. They provide assistance and medical attention as you manage the symptoms of withdrawal.

Inpatient rehabilitation center

These medical facilities are designed to assist people for more than 25 days. These facilities help a person stop using drugs, including cannabis, and then manage the underlying issues that led to drug use and may lead to relapse if not dealt with correctly. These are also helpful for people dealing with multiple addictions at once, such as alcohol abuse and cannabis abuse.

Intensive outpatient programs

Outpatient rehabilitation programs often require multiple meetings or sessions each week with a therapist, substance use disorder expert, or another mental health specialist. However, you’re not required to check into a facility, and you’re free to come and go on your own.

Support groups and therapy

One-on-one therapy may be useful as you cope with the underlying issues that lead to cannabis use. Likewise, connecting with people who face many of the same scenarios and questions as you in a support group can be a good way to find accountability and support during this next phase of your life.

While the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal may not be as severe as those of some other substances, such as cocaine or heroin, cannabis withdrawal is real. Smoking cannabis can increase dependence. You may experience symptoms like trouble sleeping, mood swings, and irritability when you stop.

These symptoms are rarely dangerous, and most will stop within about 72 hours after your last use of cannabis. In the long term, finding guidance and accountability with a therapist or support group is encouraged. Staying sober is easier when you know you have people supporting you.