From the chemical point of view, marijuana is not addictive, although some most steadfast opponents are still trying to raise a debate over this topic. However, the psychological addiction – or rather cannabis use disorder, to be precise – is well documented and exemplified through various withdrawal symptoms. So generally speaking, we can talk about withdrawals coming from marijuana use disorder, which is the result of overused cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system that are on their way to return to the normal state.
When Do Marijuana Withdrawals Appear?
Source: Brain Blogger
The term “cannabis use disorder” comes from the fact that marijuana use can become a habit for any consumer. Whether you belong to the medicinal or recreational group, you are still likely to develop routines that involve the use of cannabis, which eventually lead to experiencing the above-mentioned disorder.
As with any addiction, there is a group of negative effects resulting from the endeavor to change the behavior of a user. These effects are called withdrawals, and in the case of cannabis use, the withdrawals include the relation between the active ingredients of the plant (THC, CBD, CBN, etc.) and cannabinoid receptors in the human brain.
Cannabinoid receptors regulate the way our body works both physically and psychologically so that it maintain homeostasis, namely the state in which our bodies are able to self-regenerate and function properly.
When you use cannabis, say, more than once a week, you impact the state of the cannabinoid receptors. That being said, when a heavy cannabis user decides to take a break from the routine, the receptors must take their time in order to return to their previous state. Such a process involves both physical and mental changes and we call them withdrawals.
How Can I Identify Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms?
Source: Fox News
Although roughly 42% of cannabis users experience withdrawals, we can’t deny the fact that they’re real. Most of the times, you may anticipate symptoms like nightmares or strange dreams, trouble sleeping, and angry outbursts.
Most of these withdrawal symptoms are obvious. To begin with, cannabis reduces the REM phase during sleeping, which means that you won’t remember your dreams. When you abstain from using cannabis, the REM phase returns to its normal state, and this comeback is characterized by strange dreams that can even turn to nightmares.
Furthermore, because of cannabis therapeutic and calming properties, we fall asleep faster. This happens as THC degrades over time and converts to a chemical called cannabinol (CBN), which is way more sedating than THC. Marijuana users experience improved and deep sleep, so no wonder that you may encounter trouble sleeping when you suddenly quit using the herb.
Last but not least, cannabis alters our mood, making us feel less stressed and happier in general. That being said, when you’re constantly relaxed, you may expect to feel, least to say, irritated for the next two days following the cessation.
But what about physical withdrawal symptoms? I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the article that marijuana is not physically addictive, so the lack of physical withdrawal symptoms should be obvious here. Well, not exactly. Despite being a minority of 10%, there is actually a group of individuals who experience physical symptoms, such as muscle aches, muscle twitches, nausea, or vomiting. However, researchers have to dig deeper into the subject to gain a thorough knowledge about the source of these symptoms, as it may appear that they are completely unrelated to abstaining from marijuana.
How Long Do Marijuana Withdrawals Last?
If you’re a frequent user, cannabis withdrawal will last no longer than one week, so don’t be discouraged by what you’ve read here – the studies described above have shown that only 42% of heavy marijuana users experience the symptoms of withdrawal. Interestingly, 72% of this minority comes back to using cannabis in attempts to mitigate or completely relieve the withdrawal symptoms. You can do nothing but hope that you’re in the majority of lucky cannabis users.
Moreover, I’d like to point out that withdrawals from other substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and even caffeine are way worse than the ones you can get from quitting weed. Most importantly, the fact is, the above-mentioned substances are proven to be highly addictive and lethal when you overdose on them – cannabis is not. Yet unlike caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, the herb remains illegal in Canada in terms of recreational use.
Let us hope that the spring of 2018 will change the situation and marijuana will be fully legalized!