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What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking Pot?

Updated July 10, 2020 322.9k views13 items

The taboo surrounding cannabis culture has slowly faded. As of 2018, nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 21 other states allow it strictly for medicinal use. Many use it for its relaxing properties after a particularly stressful day at the office, while others enjoy it in social situations.

Just because most consider cannabis a “soft drug," doesn't mean it lacks withdrawal symptoms for those who quit. Chronic or long-term pot users can experience several adverse physical and psychological effects after stopping THC ingestion.

It's true that someone who stops smoking or ingesting cannabis will have an easier time with withdrawal than a drug addict detoxing from a heavier substance. Roughly one-third of pot users will experience negative withdrawal effects after quitting weed, though, which can range from vivid dreams to extreme depression. These adverse reactions can last anywhere from a couple of days to several months.

But quitting weed isn't all bad. There are positive changes your body undergoes once you stop smoking pot and the drug leaves your system.

  • The Minute You Quit To Several Years: Your Lungs Heal

    From edibles to tinctures to capsules, there are several different ways for someone to use cannabis. One of the most popular ways to ingest the substance is to inhale its vapors. Even though it doesn't have as many dangerous chemicals as things users typically inhale, cannabis fumes can prove just as damaging to your lungs as its more dangerous cousins. 

    The damage from pot's toxins may be somewhat reversible, though. It's possible for long-term pot users to ease the symptoms of lung damage once they quit, though it appears some issues may remain. The length of time it takes for your lungs to heal depends on how long you've actively been using. 

  • The First 24-72 Hours: Anxiety May Develop

    Many people who use cannabis experience paranoia at one time or another, which can lead to anxiety. Interestingly, many pot users claim they use the substance to curb anxious feelings, although not much data exists to support this benefit aside from anecdotal evidence. 

    A person in cannabis detox will likely experience some form of anxiety, especially within the first 24-72 hours after stopping. To counter it, experts recommend the person practice relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.

    If the anxiety has not stopped after one week, a trip to the doctor's office is recommended - there could be an underlying medical problem the cannabis previously masked. 

  • The First 24-72 Hours: You Will Probably Feel Irritable And Maybe Even Angry 

    Irritability is another common cannabis withdrawal symptom. It typically occurs within the first 24-72 hours after stopping. A person in detox may be irritable because they're not sleeping well, or perhaps they simply miss the feeling of being high. 

    Some people experience mild forms of irritability, while others may exhibit extreme anger. This anger can lead to a plethora of other symptoms, like a lack of sex drive or feeling of fear. These symptoms should go away entirely after about three months. 

    For those who get easily irritated, alert close friends and family members of your decision to quit. This way, former cannabis users can hopefully avoid some repercussions of unexpected angry outbursts. 

  • The First Week: You May Experience Depression

    The second-most likely symptom of weed withdrawal is depression. This common detox symptom may result in a loss of interest in doing things you would typically enjoy. It makes sense why a former weed user would feel depressed, as one of the most common reasons a person uses pot is to get high. 

    Typically, a person's depression will fade about a week after stopping. If it doesn't, or the depression becomes overwhelming, it's recommended you find a doctor to help with the symptoms.