The state of Washington legalized recreational marijuana in December of 2013. Cannabinoid products now fall into the same category as alcohol: even though these substances are technically legal, they aren’t healthy or risk-free. Many people find themselves physically and psychologically dependent on marijuana after weeks or months of heavy use. If you’re struggling to break this habit, read our tips for how to quit smoking weed.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Like all psychoactive substances, marijuana affects the production of neurotransmitters within the brain. THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – is the active intoxicant found in weed products. It bears a strong similarity to existing neurotransmitters, meaning that it can fill certain receptors and disrupt the brain’s typical functioning. This results in higher levels of dopamine, which is what many users associate with the “high” feeling created by vaping, consuming edibles, and smoking weed.
However, this high comes with consequences. The brain eventually adapts to specific levels of cannabinoids in one’s body. This means that while initial use may result in euphoria and sedation, users will require increasingly larger amounts of THC to achieve similar effects in the future. It is also possible to develop a mental and physical dependence on weed.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes marijuana use disorder as a diagnosable condition. Signs that a person has developed an addiction to marijuana include:
- Smoking weed even when there are serious legal, professional, financial, or personal consequences (ex: DUI charges, end of relationships, job loss)
- Feelings of irritability and restlessness
- Physical discomfort when attempting to quit
- Changes to mood and sleep patterns
- Decreased appetite
- Trying (and failing) to quit using, even if a person really wants to
How to Quit Smoking Weed
If you believe that you have developed a dependence on marijuana, you’re not alone. NIDA estimates that about 9% of people who begin using marijuana will become dependent on it. That number jumps to 17% for those who use weed during their teen years.
The good news is that with structure and proper guidance, it is possible to stop using marijuana entirely. Here are the steps necessary to quit smoking weed.
Find Your Motivation
What made you decide to finally get your marijuana use under control? Are there multiple reasons? Take some time to write these down and display them prominently in your personal space (on the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, and your phone background). You can also put them in places where you’re used to smoking. Keeping these goals front and center will help you to stay motivated over the coming weeks.
Get Rid of All Drugs and Paraphernalia
Next, get rid of your stash and paraphernalia. If you have weed on hand, that easy access will make it more difficult to quit.
Many people find themselves smoking weed because they are bored, anxious, or trying to de-stress. Find positive coping mechanisms for daily struggles that don’t involve substances. For example, you can go for a brisk walk or cook a new dish.
Take Care of Yourself
Be sure to keep your physical and mental self-care a top priority during this time. Poor sleep and a deficient diet will also work against you when you’re trying to stay sober. The best way to advance your recovery is to take care of yourself.
In the last year, we’ve all become accustomed to isolation. It’s important to fight the impulse to detach from others. Bonding with loved ones can be an excellent way to reduce the risk of relapse. If you occupy your time with friends and family, there won’t be any spare minutes to consider smoking weed. Consider telling them your plans so that they can help to hold you accountable.
Seek Professional Help
Those who have used marijuana for a long time – or in high doses – may experience significant withdrawal symptoms. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, sleep disturbances, chills, irritability, headaches, and sweating, you may need withdrawal management services. Accredited treatment centers like Lakeside-Milam can support you throughout this process, providing round-the-clock monitoring and treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
Want to Stop Smoking Weed?
Marijuana dependence is more common than ever before. As the largest treatment center in the Pacific Northwest, Lakeside-Milam has the expertise to guide you to a lifetime of recovery. Our clinicians will work with you on a one-on-one basis to create your perfect treatment plan.
To learn more about treatment for marijuana use disorder, contact our admissions team.