It’s not a stoner’s question. If “stoner” identifies a chronic user, the stoner has likely lost concern for balance in life. If the stoner makes pot a life’s choice, quitting doesn’t hold much interest.
But, the frequent recreational user may wonder what happens if you stop smoking, say, for a month. Perhaps, you’re concerned about possible addiction, respiration issues, or the expense. All smokers – cigarette, pipe, cigar, or weed – think about quitting from time to time, but what happens if you stop smoking marijuana?
For good and bad
You smoke marijuana because it affects your brain and body. You know that pleasure comes with some cost. It always does. Inhaling any foreign substance will leave its mark, so quitting sill leave some effects.
Put simply, weed users who quit pot can have withdrawal effects depending on the person’s tolerance. First effects of quitting marijuana after regular use might include little more than irritability and insomnia. Livestrong.com suggests how to cleanse your system to detox after quitting. But, there are some results you can count on:
Bad dreams: Pot puts you to sleep, usually a deep restful sleep that forestalls or stops normal sleep and dream patterns. So, for a few days after quitting, you can expect to catch up on those misplaced dreams. They can return in added confusion and intensity. These dreams can contribute to or follow from insomnia because smoking has affected your circadian sleeping patterns.
Irritability: Cannabis is a dopamine stimulant, even though the effects relax you. When you eliminate the stimulant, you mess with the brain/body’s expectations. So, until your systems straighten themselves out, you will likely experience mood swings. Depending on your habit, choice of strain, and tolerance, these swings can be between euphoric highs and despairing lows, but they will even out in time.
Appetite: Tim Kohut, writing for Green Rush Daily, says, “Getting a case of the munchies is quite normal after smoking weed, so naturally, the complete opposite happens when you stop. When you stop introducing cannabis into your system, your appetite disappears for a little.” But, this, too, can depend on your constitution. Whether your appetite increases or decreases, you can expect some change, so you might opt for good nutrition.
Focus: As the presence of THC and CBD decline in your system, you may lose focus and continuity. Sometimes described as a “fog,” your brain may struggle to find balance.
Loss of focus: Another byproduct of the constant fatigue is the loss of concentration, and difficulty learning, memorization, and memory. Some of the disorientation comes from increases in brain activity, energy level, and gradual restoration of memory.
Savings: When you stop smoking, you stop using papers, pipes, and pot. You stop using bongs, vapers, and Cheetos. Taking weed out of your budget can be a real surprise. You will realize real gains in money that could be better spent on debt reduction, continuing education, and family needs.
Weight: Getting high regularly comes at the expense of physical activity and increased appetite for the wrong foods. The lethargy and relaxation come at the cost of weight gain and fat storage. So, if you have not balanced your smoking life with physical activity, you will pay for it.
Time: Smoking weed and enjoying its preferred effects takes time. And, since time is a resource like money, you can save and restore that resource when you stop smoking even for a short time.
What you can do to reduce the side-effects of stopping
If you plan to stop smoking weed for a month or for good, you can run interference on some of the effects of withdrawal:
- Exercise daily to detox through perspiration and mitigate cardiac-respiratory effects.
- Take warm soaking baths to reduce irritability and edginess.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants until systems return to “normal.”
- Drink up to 3 liters of water each day without artificial sweeteners and flavors.
- Stop using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs because they will only confuse your recovery.
- Seek medical advice on cessation, especially if you have been a heavy user and/or take other prescription medications.
- Choose healthy and nutritious foods, fruits, and lean meats.
- Talk out your stresses and concerns with supportive friends and relatives.
Two significant changes have affected marijuana use. First, there are more smokers than ever because of the decriminalization and legalization of sales, possession, and use. And, two, the cannabis strains available at medical and recreational dispensaries are stronger than ever.
Increased use spreads the risk of heavier use. And, while there is ample evidence that marijuana is less addictive and harmful than other stimulants and narcotics, users may want to take a break from time to time from a habit that users know alters their bio- and neuro-chemistry. You can handle the change!