Weed, also known as marijuana or cannabis, is the most commonly used recreational drug in the United States.
About 18 percent of all Americans used it “at least once” in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those who smoke pot, the CDC estimates that 10 percent are likely to become dependent on it.
The drug has been legalized for recreational use in 21 states and there is still debate over whether it should be more widespread. Eighty-eight percent of American adults think weed should be legalized nationwide, according to a 2022 survey from the Pew Research Center.
When it comes to views on cannabis legalization, there are major differences between the different age groups. In general, younger people are more likely to be in favor of legalization, while older adults are more likely to be against it.
Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 72 percent thought weed should be made legal for medical and recreational use. Only 30 percent of the over-75s agreed.
But many scientists disagree because of the serious, long-lasting effects marijuana can have on the body. A 2013 study, Marijuana Legalization: Impact on Physicians and Public Health, found “substantial evidence” that marijuana can have serious effects on the respiratory system, with symptoms including a persistent cough and other lung problems. It also states that there is not enough concrete evidence to support its therapeutic benefits.
Ian Hamilton, an honorary fellow in addiction at the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, in the UK, told News Week: “Although it does not have the same dependency potential as drugs such as cocaine, it is estimated that one in 10 users will develop a psychological/physical dependence on the drug. Like many psychoactive drugs, it is not only the drug that creates dependence, but also the context in which it is used. For example, some people will use it for self-medication rather than purely recreational reasons.
“Cannabis, like alcohol, works quickly to help with unwanted feelings and thoughts in the short term.”
Cold turkey quitting the addiction can be an effective, if difficult, way to curb the habit.
Clinician Charles White, an addiction expert at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, shared News Week: “Just like losing weight, there doesn’t seem to be one best way to kick the cannabis habit. Some people prefer to go cold turkey and get rid of symptoms sooner, while others prefer to go cold turkey over time. want to cut down on time before they quit.”
How to stop smoking weed
“Unfortunately, unlike drugs like heroin, there is no medical alternative to cannabis that can be prescribed to reduce withdrawal symptoms,” Hamilton said. “However, there is enough research to suggest that talk therapies are useful in helping people reduce or abstain from cannabis.”
These therapies may include cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) aimed at changing the thought patterns that lead to addictive habits.
Other types of therapies include motivational enhancement therapy (MET). This talk therapy works by invoking motivational statements related to addiction. It aims to increase a person’s motivation to give up the drug.
These talk therapies “promise” to effectively kick the habit, a 2007 study, Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment, found. Those who used both therapies at the same time were more likely to stay off the drug for longer periods of time, the study said.
What happens when you stop smoking weed?
Quitting weed cold turkey will lead to withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to overcome.
Barry Setlow, a professor and co-chief of the Research Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida, explained News week“When they quit cold turkey, their bodies and brains are left with a lower-than-normal number of CB1 receptors.”
CB1 receptors, or the “cannabinoid” receptors, regulate the activity of other neurotransmitters in the brain. They work to regulate mood, appetite and pain.
“Since CB1 receptors are important for regulating mood, sleep, memory and all sorts of other functions, having a lower-than-normal number of those receptors wreaks havoc on those functions — in fact, it causes many of the withdrawal symptoms that come with it.” with stopping chronic marijuana use.”
Withdrawal symptoms may include vomiting and stomach pain within the first three days of stopping. Those who quit cold turkey may also experience excessive sweating and restlessness.
Symptoms begin to peak about 10 days after stopping. Psychological side effects such as depression may worsen. They should begin to disappear within 10 to 20 days of cold turkey.
Tips for quitting weed
Thinking about the effects cannabis has on your daily life can motivate you to stick to your goal. “Try to imagine how your life would be better free of the habit and compulsion to use cannabis, the financial savings, the ability to better focus on your life,” White said.
Cannabis can cause a wide variety of adverse effects. For example, studies have shown that excessive use of cannabis can lead to permanent IQ loss. This is because the drug targets areas of the brain involved in executive functions and memories.
“Cannabis dependence can cause significant problems especially for young people. It is often the first illicit drug that young people come into contact with when they are in their formative years,” Hamilton said. “This can result in underachievement in education at a time that is critical for young people. The good news is that any negative cognitive effects are reversed when the user stops using cannabis. Unfortunately, this may still mean that some young people lose their full life will not fulfill.” potential or at least it sets them back compared to their peers.”
Weed and fear
Many regular cannabis users use the drug to cope with anxiety or other psychological problems.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient extracted from the marijuana plant, has been shown to reduce anxiety in small doses, according to research from the University of Washington. But it also tends to increase anxiety when taken in higher doses.
However, the relief that THC can create is only short-lived. This can lead to addictions as users can become dependent on the drug for relief.
“Often people use cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and that underlying disorder still exists when they try to quit,” White said. “This makes it particularly difficult to quit because you have the withdrawal and the underlying problem to deal with. Getting counseling to treat the underlying anxiety and, if necessary, taking an anti-anxiety medication such as buspirone can help. “
For people trying to quit weed, it can also be important to tell others about your intentions so that you can commit yourself in a more targeted way.
“Have loved ones there to help you through the worst cravings. If you need drug therapy to get through the worst symptoms, you can ask your doctor,” White said.
Asking for help can be one of the “hardest but critical things to do” when attempting to quit, Hamilton said.
“We know that people who seek help from specialist treatment are more likely to be successful. But the problem is that many people do not seek out specialist treatment, thinking that these services are not for people with cannabis dependence, because they think that they are for people.” addicted to hard drugs such as heroin,” said Hamilton.
Do not give up
Experts said those who quit shouldn’t see a relapse as a failure. “It can be very hard to quit and many people will have to try a few times before they get it right. So if you failed before, keep trying,” White said.
Quitting cold turkey can be a particularly difficult way to curb the habit, which means relapses are common.
“I think it’s important to know that it may take several attempts to quit before you achieve abstinence,” said Hamilton. “This is important to know, as some people may think in a relapse that they can’t quit or that it is impossible. Rather than seeing a relapse as a failure, it should be seen as a way of gathering information that can help you improve your health.” next attempt to quit or reduce your cannabis use.”