Medically Reviewed

How to Quit Smoking Weed (Marijuana)

4 min read · 8 sections
Marijuana use is prevalent throughout the United States. Though this drug has been widely decriminalized in many parts of the country, marijuana use can still progress to compulsive and problematic levels for some people, at which point they may find it difficult to stop using. People who develop significant marijuana dependence over the course of their use may also experience troublesome withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, making the early recovery period additionally challenging.

Quitting marijuana, however, is entirely possible. Professional substance use treatment has helped many manage the challenges associated with withdrawal and recover from substance use disorders involving marijuana.
What you will learn:
How to quit smoking weed
Effects of marijuana use
How treatment can help

How to Quit Smoking Marijuana

Unfortunately, quitting pot isn’t always easy for many people. Individuals, who smoke weed regularly, may develop significant cannabis dependence. Once this develops, quitting marijuana may result in several uncomfortable experiences, including cravings and turbulent moods.

Trying to quit on your own is possible, but it can be challenging without the accountability, support, and guidance of professional treatment. To quit smoking marijuana, you may benefit from the supervision and care provided through a marijuana addiction treatment program.

Treatment can help you remain safe and comfortable while quitting marijuana. The supervision and support of treatment can decrease the likelihood of you relapsing. You may benefit from individualized treatment plans. If you or someone you love struggles to quit marijuana use on your own, have a cannabis use disorder, or suffer from marijuana dependence, cannabis-specific treatment may be the best option.

Quitting Cold Turkey: Tips to Quitting

If you must stop smoking marijuana immediately at home, remember to surround yourself with a wide support network. In times of withdrawal and craving, having safe and healthy people around you can serve as a way to protect you against relapse. Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Make a plan. Having a clear goal in mind (in this case, abstinence from marijuana) can help you stay on track. By yourself or with your support system, make a plan for how you’ll quit marijuana and remain sober.
  • Get rid of marijuana-related paraphernalia. Get rid of your paraphernalia associated with smoking and cannabis use—including bongs, pipes, bowls, and vapes.
  • Identify triggers and strategize how to deal with them. Your personal triggers for wanting to use marijuana may differ from someone else’s. It is necessary that, if you are aiming to quit using weed, you figure out your pressure points and strategize ways to cope with them in a healthy, substance-free way.
  • Build a strong support network. When it comes to getting sober, or at least reducing your drug use, it’s crucial to surround yourself with healthy and supportive people, who want to help you stay on track with your decision to be abstinent. Building a strong support network will help you quit marijuana and provide you with the vital healthy connections you need to stay abstinent.
  • Find a weed replacement. Take a holistic approach to manage cravings. Participating in physical activities, such as yoga or exercise, or finding new hobbies can help.
  • Taper usage instead of going cold turkey. Going cold turkey frequently produces more intense withdrawal symptoms. Creating a tapering schedule with an addiction professional may be better than trying to quit cold turkey.

Though our tips for quitting marijuana on your own may help, your best option is to contact a treatment provider that specializes in cannabis use treatment. They can provide you with professional guidance on quitting. With their expertise, a treatment provider can determine the best course of action to help you stop your marijuana use.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is the nation’s leader in substance use treatment. In our various treatment facilities across the country, medical professionals help individuals recover from marijuana use and reassume power over their lives. Learn more about where you can find treatment for marijuana use, your addiction treatment options, and your specific insurance coverage details by giving us a call at .

How Does Marijuana Use Affect The Brain?

Frequent cannabis use carries certain risks. Someone who regularly uses marijuana may be at higher risk of developing a cannabis use disorder. Marijuana is also associated with other physical and mental health risks. With the rising potency of marijuana’s average concentration of its primary psychoactive component, these risks may be elevated for individuals who use it.1

Marijuana’s psychoactive components affect the brain through a series of chemical interactions. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary intoxicating chemical compound found in cannabis. THC is similar in chemical structure to naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body, such as anandamide. This similarity allows THC to attach to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and disrupt the endocannabinoid system’s normal functioning. THC also stimulates the release of larger-than-normal amounts of dopamine, which is partly responsible for its pleasurable high.2

THC affects a user’s brain in areas that control mood, memory, thinking, and concentration.2 Marijuana’s effects may be desirable for some people and include:3

  • Euphoria.
  • Feelings of sedation or relaxation.
  • Distortions in sensory perception.
  • Altered sense of time (e.g., subjectively slow passing of time).

THC’s effects on the brain don’t always produce pleasurable effects. Its disruption of the brain’s normal pathways of communication may sometimes lead to distressing effects such as:2

  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Diminished coordination and reaction time.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Acute psychotic features, such as hallucinations and delusions.

Despite the prevalent notion that marijuana is entirely safe or free of any addictive potential, there is certainly evidence to suggest otherwise.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana is the second-most widely used mind-altering substance in the United States, behind alcohol.In a 2022 survey, almost 3.7 million people, aged 12 or older, initiated marijuana use within the previous 12 months; 53% of those individuals were under the age of 21. Additionally, in 2022, 19 million people aged 12 or older met the criteria for a marijuana use disorder, the clinical term for a marijuana addiction.4

A previously criminalized drug across the country, marijuana is now widely legalized in many areas for medicinal and recreational use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) identifies marijuana as an addictive drug. With consistent use, people who consume weed risk developing a marijuana use disorder, or marijuana addiction.

Physiological dependence, which develops as the brain and body adapt to weed, is a common feature associated with many instances of marijuana addiction.People who develop dependence on marijuana may, over time, begin to produce less of their own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters and become desensitized to the effects of them. Should this happen, an individual who chronically uses marijuana may experience withdrawal symptoms when they slow their cannabis consumption or stop consumption altogether.

Take Our Marijuana Addiction Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute marijuana addiction self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with a marijuana dependency. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a marijuana use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.

Marijuana Withdrawal

The presence of cannabis withdrawal symptoms is one criteria used to make the diagnosis of a marijuana use disorder.6

When someone is dependent on marijuana, they may experience withdrawal when they attempt to quit or cut down on the consumption of the drug.

One study by NIDA found that around 40% of teens, who were dependent on marijuana, experienced withdrawal symptoms when they stopped their marijuana use.7

Withdrawal is one of the more challenging parts of quitting marijuana. Someone with significant cannabis dependence may smoke weed in an attempt to get rid of the unpleasant physical or emotional symptoms of withdrawal, derailing any recovery efforts. It’s common for people making attempts at decreasing or stopping their marijuana use to return to cannabis (or pick up another drug) because of the distress of withdrawal. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms generally peak in intensity around the third day of detoxification from the drug.6

One solution to the unpleasantness and potential unpredictability of withdrawal is to undergo the process with the supervision and support of a comprehensive rehabilitation program. The support and care offered through professional rehabilitation may help people better manage the withdrawal period, which might otherwise prove to be a significant hurdle to ongoing recovery efforts. Though presently there are no pharmacologic interventions approved for managing cannabis withdrawal or that specifically treat cannabis use disorders, close supervision, medications for certain symptom relief, and other supportive care measures can help to pave the way for long-term recovery.

Addiction Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

Sometimes, quitting marijuana is difficult to do alone. If you can’t seem to quit weed cold turkey, you may want to seek professional help to cease marijuana use. American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers multiple forms of treatment to help you if you have become addicted to marijuana. Evidence-based therapies help you gain the skills to cope with cravings and avoid triggers. Therapy also helps improve other skills, such as problem-solving and lifestyle management.

Addiction treatment providers may use several behavioral treatments to help you overcome your marijuana addiction, including:9,10

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on treating a variety of mental health issues under the assumption that many problematic behaviors are borne from unhealthy thought patterns. With CBT, you can identify your negative thought patterns, learn healthier ways to cope with your emotions, and observe your negative thought patterns.
  • Contingency management. Contingency management is a form of treatment that utilizes incentive and reward to reinforce healthy changes. When treated through a contingency management method, providers may give you tangible rewards that reinforce your positive behaviors (like staying sober).
  • Motivational enhancement therapy. Motivational enhancement therapy strives to resolve any ambivalence toward treatment and prompt an internally-motivated desire to change.

The length of treatment depends on several factors, including your needs, level of care, substance used, severity of your disorder, other co-occurring conditions, among other things.

Benefits of Quitting Marijuana

  • Quitting marijuana can help you regain your life. Often, substance misuse issues and addiction result in you neglecting key areas of your life that used to bring you joy and satisfaction. Some of these areas might include career, personal growth, friendships, relationships with family members, intimate relationships, and more. Quitting marijuana can help you rekindle these bonds and commitments and achieve freedom from addiction.
  • Quitting marijuana can help you achieve better sleep quality. Some studies suggest that marijuana interferes with your body’s REM sleep cycles—sometimes disrupting your quality or depth of sleep. Sleep is an integral part of the body and brain’s health and overall recovery. Thus, giving up weed might improve your sleep.11
  • Quitting marijuana can protect your memory from worsening. Some studies suggest that THC exposure—over long periods—may quicken age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. In turn, this can impact your ability to process information and form memories.12

How To Help Someone Else Stop Smoking Weed

To help someone else quit smoking or ingesting marijuana in any form, you may wish to start by educating yourself on substance use, marijuana addiction, and the potential impacts of long-term marijuana use. You may also attend Codependents Anonymous (CODA) or Al-Anon meetings to ensure that you’re caring for yourself and setting and maintaining healthy boundaries while trying to help someone else who may have a problem with smoking weed.

You can also speak with the person you love, whose marijuana use has become problematic, to let them know you’re concerned for them and their substance use. Last, you can help this person seek proper treatment options or research treatment options for them.

If you or someone you love need help quitting marijuana use, call AAC at to speak to one of our knowledgeable admissions navigators, who can listen to your story, explain your options, answer your questions, and help you or a loved one begin the path to recovery.

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