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How to Stop Smoking Weed

how to stop smoking weed

Despite weed’s social acceptance and legal status in some states, it’s still a substance with high potential for abuse and addiction. The main ingredient in weed is THC. It changes the brain in ways that make it very difficult to quit marijuana if you’re a heavy user.

If you’re wondering how to stop smoking weed, here are some tips:

Decide How to Quit Smoking Weed

There are two ways to go about quitting marijuana: stopping cold turkey or tapering the amount and frequency you use weed. There are pros and cons to each approach.

Quitting weed cold turkey – Research shows that heavy marijuana users often develop physical and psychological dependence on the drug. Just like any drug dependency, quitting abruptly puts you at risk for withdrawal symptoms. Psychological withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and depression are common in marijuana abusers. You may also have uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms depending on how severer your marijuana addiction is. Quitting substances like alcohol or heroin cold turkey can be dangerous. Though the health risks of quitting weed cold turkey aren’t as severe as those drugs, for some people marijuana detox can be extremely psychologically unsettling.

It’s difficult for people with addictions to curb substance use on their own. “Just a little” can quickly turn into “a lot…just this once.” The positive side of deciding to quit cold turkey is that you eliminate some of the temptation of using marijuana to ease withdrawal. It also doesn’t draw out the process like tapering. It’s best to quit any drug abruptly in a medical detox setting to ensure safety and comfort.

Gradually quitting weed – Slowly decreasing the amount and frequency of marijuana you use can help ease some of the marijuana withdrawal symptoms that can come with stopping cold turkey. Research shows that marijuana withdrawal symptoms are a key reason why people relapse when they try to quit. Some heavy marijuana users find this route to be very difficult though. Tapering marijuana use takes strong willpower and dedication. You must develop a specific timeline and stick to it. Heavy marijuana users may still experience withdrawal symptoms with a gradual decrease in the drug.

Educate Yourself on Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are a risk for using any types of substances that cause physical and psychological dependence. Marijuana is no different. Marijuana withdrawal isn’t usually as dangerous as withdrawal from heroin and other schedule 1 drugs, but it can still be uncomfortable. Educating yourself on marijuana withdrawal symptoms helps you prepare for what could happen. Knowing potential withdrawal symptoms and that they’ll eventually pass may stop you from self-medicating with weed.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Marijuana cravings
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Appetite changes

Address Underlying Issues

Marijuana abuse and mental health disorders often occur together. You may be using marijuana to self-medicate underlying depression, anxiety or other undiagnosed mental health conditions. This can make it that much harder to quit weed. Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment for mental illness can help you succeed. You may feel less likely to use marijuana if your psychiatric symptoms are under control.

Marijuana researchers reviewed several studies on cannabis use and co-occurring mental health disorders and found:

  • 37% of adults with major depression use weed
  • 30% of people with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder use cannabis
  • 12% of men and 4% of women over age 60 with depression use weed
  • Anxiety and mood disorders occur at significantly higher rates in people with a marijuana dependency than in the general population

Prepare for Triggers

Eliminating marijuana from your system is only half the battle. The most difficult test of sobriety comes after that. The reasons you smoke weed will still be around after you quit. Often people in recovery must make difficult changes in their lives to stay sober. Dealing with triggers is different for everyone but may include:

  • Not hanging around friends who smoke pot or do other drugs
  • Not attending social gatherings or other situations that will include marijuana
  • Acquiring skills to deal with difficult emotions
  • Having a plan in place when stress, boredom or other feelings arise that lead to substance abuse
  • Finding a sober support system like 12-step groups or 12-step alternatives
  • Building a sober network of friends
  • Avoiding places, people and situations that fuel marijuana use

Use Self-Care

If you’re a heavy marijuana user, quitting weed is going to leave a lot of space that pot once occupied. You need to find things to replace the time and energy marijuana takes. You should also develop coping skills to use in place of pot when difficulties arise. Self-care activities help you stay healthy emotionally and physically, so you can deal with challenges.

Healthy self-care could include:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Healthy hobbies
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Spirituality practices
  • Attending therapy and support groups
  • Good sleep hygiene

Dedicate yourself to these practices. You’ll need to take part in self-care activities on a regular basis, not just in the face of triggers and cravings.

Reward Yourself

Contingency management is an approach some drug rehab centers use. Research shows contingency management may help people who abuse drugs and alcohol stay sober, at least for the short-term. It’s a reward system for meeting abstinence goals and other milestones. The way it works is a bit more complex than just positive reinforcement, but you can try a similar concept on your own. Give yourself non-substance related rewards when you reach milestones in your recovery.

Know When You Need Help

Some people learn how to quit smoking weed. Others try to quit marijuana several times without success. Know that you’re not a failure if you don’t know how to stop smoking weed on your own. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Just like other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, substance abuse usually requires clinical interventions for ongoing sobriety. Specialized marijuana addiction treatment that uses proven approaches for treating cannabis addiction can provide a comfortable withdrawal process and help prevent relapse.

Posted on February 21, 2019 and modified on April 25, 2019

Editorial Staff

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Editorial Staff

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