Coping with cannabis withdrawal

How to cope with cannabis (weed) withdrawal symptoms, including sleep problems, strange dreams, anxiety, anger, sweats and changes in your appetite.

Coping with cannabis withdrawal

If you use cannabis (weed) regularly, you may get withdrawal symptoms when you cut down or stop.

Withdrawal symptoms are a positive sign that your body is recovering. They usually stop within a few weeks.

Here’s some advice to help you get through them.

Signs of cannabis withdrawal

It’s normal to experience low mood and cravings when you cut down or stop any drug.

If you cut down or stop cannabis, you may also experience:

  • sleep problems
  • strange dreams
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • irritability and anger
  • sweats and chills
  • changes in your appetite
  • nicotine withdrawal (if you smoke cannabis with tobacco)

How long do cannabis withdrawal symptoms last?

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms usually peak about four days after you stop or cut down.

They will probably be more intense if:

  • you stop completely rather than cutting down
  • you smoke cannabis every day or most days

Most symptoms stop by 10 days but some people carry on getting them for up to four weeks.

This is because the active ingredients in cannabis are stored in fat cells in your body. It takes up to four weeks for your fat cells to release them all.

How to handle cannabis withdrawal symptoms

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to deal with, but they don’t last forever. Be kind and patient with yourself as your body recovers.

You can expect a few sleepless nights when you give up cannabis, especially if you use it to help you sleep.

To help you sleep better:

  • Get up and go to bed at the same times each day – having a regular sleep routine helps to train your body to fall asleep at the same time each night.
  • Have a calming bedtime routine – having the same routine each night tells your body it’s time to sleep. Include calming things like a warm bath, reading or watching TV in your routine – whatever helps you feel relaxed and sleepy.
  • Avoid going on your phone just before bed – the light from the screen makes it harder for your brain to switch off and go to sleep.
  • Get out and about during the day – even a short walk in daylight hours will improve your mood and your sleep, and help with stress and anxiety too.

You'll find 10 tips to beat insomnia on the NHS website.

Some people start having strange or disturbing dreams when they stop using cannabis. These should start to fade after about a week.

Follow the sleep tips above until they pass.

It’s quite common to feel anxious when you stop using cannabis. This is more likely if you use cannabis to manage anxiety.

The trick is to find new ways to handle your anxiety.

Writing your worries down can help. So can using simple breathing exercises to calm your breath.

Avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks as well.

Without the sedating effects of cannabis, caffeine can make you feel more jittery and anxious than usual.

Visit the MIND website for more tips on managing anxiety.

Some people say they feel irritable and angry when they stop using cannabis.

These feelings are normal and they will pass.

Try to cut down stress in your life and build in more things that you find relaxing, such as playing games or listening to music.

Telling a close friend or family member how you are feeling can be a great source of support.

If you don’t want to tell them you're irritable because you’ve stopped using cannabis, you could just say you’re feeling under the weather.

You may get flu-like symptoms like sweats, chills, headaches and muscle pains when you give up cannabis.

If this happens, look after yourself as though you had a cold or flu.

Wrap up and take it easy. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease any aches and pains.

Food may taste different when you’re withdrawing from cannabis, and your appetite may change.

If you don’t feel like eating, try to eat little and often or have smoothies instead. Getting some exercise and fresh air may help to build your appetite too.

Some people get nausea and stomach pains. These should go away in a week or two.

Need help now?

For support with giving up cannabis and coping with withdrawal symptoms, get in touch with one of our local services.

Or talk to us online

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