How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering

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Last Updated on: 2nd July 2024, 06:13 pm

How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering | OC Revive

Clinically Reviewed By Brittany Astrom - LMFT

Brittany has 15 years of experience in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse field. Brittany has been licensed for almost 8 years and has worked in various settings throughout her career, including inpatient psychiatric treatment, outpatient, residential treatment center, PHP and IOP settings.

How To Quit Smoking Weed

Cannabis, whether used for medicinal or recreational purposes, has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. However, for some individuals, smoking weed can escalate into a problematic habit, leading to drug abuse and even addiction. Marijuana use disorder, recognized by health authorities like the National Institute on Drug Abuse, can develop from consistent marijuana use. If you’re ready to take the plunge and start quitting marijuana, this comprehensive guide will provide you with a roadmap for a successful journey, exploring various strategies, addressing withdrawal symptoms, and emphasizing the importance of support systems and mental health.

How Weed Can Affect Your Body & Brain

Regular cannabis use comes with risks, including the possibility of developing a cannabis use disorder and experiencing adverse effects on both physical and mental health. These risks may be heightened due to the increasing potency of marijuana’s psychoactive component, THC.

THC, the main intoxicating chemical in marijuana, closely resembles natural cannabinoids in the body, allowing it to interfere with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. Additionally, THC triggers an excessive release of dopamine, contributing to the pleasurable effects of marijuana.

While marijuana can induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and altered sensory perception, it can also impair cognitive function, coordination, and reaction time. Moreover, it may lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations or delusions in some cases.

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is not entirely harmless, and its potential for addiction should not be underestimated.

Weed Addiction

What Are The Different Types Of Weed & How Can It Be Consumed?

Different Types of Weed (Cannabis):

Historically, cannabis has been classified into three main types:


Known for its uplifting and energizing effects, often associated with creativity and focus.


Typically associated with relaxation, sedation, and pain relief, often used for nighttime consumption.


A cross between sativa and indica strains, offering a combination of effects depending on the specific hybrid.

Modern classification is shifting away from these traditional terms and focusing more on the specific chemical profile of each strain, as the effects can vary widely even within the same type.

Different Ways to Consume Weed:


    • Smoking: The most common method, involving burning dried cannabis flower and inhaling the smoke. This can be done through joints, pipes, bongs, or blunts.

    • Vaporizing: Heating cannabis flower or concentrates at a lower temperature to release vapor instead of smoke. Often considered a healthier alternative to smoking.

Oral Ingestion

  • Edibles: Food products infused with cannabis, such as brownies, gummies, or chocolates. Effects take longer to onset but tend to be more potent and longer-lasting.

  • Capsules/Pills: Cannabis oil or distillate enclosed in capsules for a more precise dosage and discreet consumption.

  • Tinctures: Liquid extracts of cannabis taken sublingually (under the tongue) or added to food or drinks.

  • Topical Application:

    • Creams/Lotions: Cannabis-infused products applied directly to the skin for localized pain relief or anti-inflammatory effects.

Other Methods

    • Dabbing: Inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates through a specialized rig.

    • Transdermal Patches: Patches infused with cannabinoids that deliver a slow and steady dose through the skin.

How to quit smoking weed

Understanding Cannabis Use Disorder: The Science Behind Weed Addiction

While many people smoke weed without experiencing significant problems, others can develop marijuana use disorder, as identified by the National Institute on Drug Abuse leading to difficulty quitting weed. This condition, recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is characterized by a pattern of compulsive marijuana use despite negative consequences. CUD can manifest as:

  • Increased tolerance: Needing more weed to achieve the same effects.

  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing discomfort when attempting to quit smoking weed or cut back.

  • Loss of control: Difficulty controlling the amount or frequency of smoking weed.

  • Neglecting responsibilities: Prioritizing weed use over work, school, or relationships.

  • Continued use despite problems: Continuing to smoke weed despite physical or mental health problems.

Addiction Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

If you’re struggling to quit marijuana on your own, professional help is available. Addiction treatment centers, such as OC Revive, offer evidence-based therapies to support your journey to sobriety. These therapies equip you with coping skills to manage cravings and avoid triggers, as well as address underlying issues like problem-solving and lifestyle choices.

Several behavioral treatments are commonly used to address marijuana addiction, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to marijuana use, and teaches you healthier ways to cope with emotions.

  • Contingency management: This approach rewards positive behaviors, like abstaining from marijuana, with tangible incentives, reinforcing your progress towards recovery.

  • Motivational enhancement therapy: This therapy aims to resolve any doubts about treatment and foster a genuine desire for change within you.

The duration of treatment will vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of your addiction, among other factors.

The Decision to Quit

Deciding to quit smoking weed, or quit smoking marijuana, is a personal choice that deserves celebration. It’s a commitment to prioritize your health, well-being, and goals. Before diving into the specifics of quitting, take some time to reflect on your reasons for quitting. Are you concerned about your health? Do you want to improve your relationships? Or are you simply ready to move on from this habit?

Understanding your motivations will serve as a powerful driving force throughout your journey. Write them down and refer back to them whenever you need a reminder of why you’re making this positive change.

How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering | OC Revive

Strategies On How To Quit Smoking Weed: A Multi-Pronged Approach

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how to quit smoking weed, as the most effective approach may vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. Here are several strategies that can help you successfully kick the habit:

Set a Quit Date and Plan: Choose a specific date to quit and create a plan leading up to it. This could involve gradually reducing your weed intake, disposing of any smoking marijuana paraphernalia, and informing your friends and family about your decision.

Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling with marijuana addiction or concerned about withdrawal symptoms, seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or addiction specialist. They can provide guidance, support, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Consider Support Groups: Joining a support group, such as Marijuana Anonymous (MA), can provide a safe and supportive environment where you can connect with others who understand your struggles and share experiences. These groups can offer encouragement, accountability, and valuable tips for staying on track.

Therapy and Counseling: Therapy can be a powerful tool in addressing the underlying causes of addiction, developing coping mechanisms for cravings, and building a foundation for long-term recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly effective in helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to weed use.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): While there are currently no FDA-approved medications specifically for marijuana addiction, some medications may be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms, such as sleep disturbances or anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve your overall well-being and reduce cravings for weed. This includes eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress through relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.

Navigating Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms

When you stop smoking weed, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to functioning without THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. Severe withdrawal symptoms can occur, especially with the increased THC potency in modern cannabis strains, leading to significant discomfort for individuals attempting to quit. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the frequency and amount of weed used, as well as individual factors.

Common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability and mood swings

  • Anxiety and restlessness

  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or vivid dreams)

  • Decreased appetite or nausea

  • Headaches and fatigue

  • Cravings for weed

Individuals who smoke weed regularly may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms.

While most withdrawal symptoms are mild and subside within a few weeks, some individuals may experience more intense or prolonged withdrawal, particularly those with severe weed addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions. In these cases, seeking medical supervision during detox may be necessary to manage symptoms and ensure safety.

How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering | OC Revive

Quitting Cold Turkey vs. Tapering: Navigating Your Path to Quitting Smoking Weed

When you decide to quit smoking weed, one of the first questions you might grapple with is how to approach the process. Should you go cold turkey and stop abruptly, or should you gradually taper off your usage? Both methods have their merits and drawbacks, and the most effective approach for you will depend on various factors, including your level of dependence, personal preferences, and support system.

Quitting Cold Turkey: A Clean Break

Quitting cold turkey involves completely stopping all marijuana use at once. This method can be appealing for those who want to break free from the habit quickly and decisively. The sudden cessation of weed use can trigger withdrawal symptoms, but for some individuals, this may be a more effective way to eliminate temptation and prevent relapse.

Pros of Quitting Cold Turkey:

Immediate cessation: You stop using weed completely from your quit date, which can be empowering for some individuals.

Reduced temptation: By eliminating access to weed and avoiding triggers, you reduce the likelihood of relapsing.

Shorter withdrawal duration: Although the withdrawal symptoms may be more intense initially, they tend to subside faster compared to tapering.

Cons of Quitting Cold Turkey:

Intense withdrawal symptoms: Abrupt cessation can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cravings.

Higher risk of relapse: The intensity of withdrawal symptoms can sometimes lead to relapse for individuals who lack a strong support system or coping mechanisms.

Tapering Off: A Gradual Approach

Tapering involves gradually reducing the amount and frequency of weed use over time. This method can be more manageable for those who have been smoking weed regularly or heavily, as it allows the body to adjust to lower levels of THC gradually. Tapering can also be helpful for individuals who are concerned about the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Pros of Tapering Off:

Reduced withdrawal intensity: Tapering can minimize the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, making the quitting process more comfortable.

Greater flexibility: This approach allows for more flexibility, as you can adjust the tapering schedule to your individual needs and progress.

Psychological adjustment: Gradual reduction can help individuals mentally prepare for a weed-free life and develop coping mechanisms for cravings.

Cons of Tapering Off:

Longer process: Tapering can take longer than quitting cold turkey, as it involves a gradual reduction over time.

Requires discipline: This approach requires discipline and commitment to stick to the tapering schedule and avoid relapse.

Potential for prolonged cravings: Gradual reduction may prolong cravings for some individuals, making it harder to resist temptation.

Which Approach is Right for You?

The decision between quitting cold turkey or tapering off depends on several factors:

Severity of marijuana use: Individuals who smoke weed heavily or frequently may benefit from tapering, while those with less frequent use may find cold turkey more manageable.

History of withdrawal: If you’ve experienced intense withdrawal symptoms in the past, tapering may be a safer option.

Personal preferences: Some individuals prefer the clean break of quitting cold turkey, while others find tapering more comfortable and sustainable.

Support system: Having a strong support system can help you succeed with either approach, but it may be especially important if you choose to quit cold turkey.

How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering | OC Revive

Maintaining Mental Well-being: A Crucial Aspect of Recovery

Quitting smoking weed can significantly impact your mental health, both positively and negatively. While many individuals experience improvements in mood, anxiety, and sleep after quitting, others may experience temporary setbacks as they adjust to life without weed.

It’s important to prioritize your mental well-being throughout the quitting process and beyond. This may involve:

Seeking professional help: Therapists and counselors can provide support, guidance, and coping mechanisms for managing any psychological challenges that arise.

Engaging in activities that promote mental well-being: Exercise, spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, and pursuing creative outlets can all contribute to improved mental health.

Connecting with loved ones: Spending time with supportive friends and family can provide emotional support and encouragement.

Practicing self-care: Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a warm bath.

Benefits to Quitting Weed

Stopping marijuana use can be a transformative experience, allowing you to reclaim aspects of your life that may have been neglected due to addiction. This can include revitalizing your career, fostering personal growth, strengthening relationships with loved ones, and rediscovering personal passions. By breaking free from addiction, you can open yourself up to a world of new possibilities and a greater sense of freedom.

Additionally, quitting marijuana has been linked to improved sleep quality. Research suggests that marijuana can disrupt healthy sleep patterns, particularly REM sleep, which is crucial for physical and mental restoration. By giving up weed, you may experience deeper and more restful sleep.

Furthermore, quitting marijuana may help protect your memory. Some studies indicate that long-term THC exposure can accelerate the loss of neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region essential for memory formation and information processing. By abstaining from marijuana, you might safeguard your cognitive function and preserve your ability to learn and remember.

Benefits To Quitting Weed

How To Help Someone Else Stop Smoking Weed

If someone you care about is struggling with marijuana use, start by learning more about substance abuse and addiction. This knowledge can help you understand their situation and offer better support. It’s also a good idea to attend support groups like Codependents Anonymous (CODA) or Al-Anon to learn healthy coping mechanisms and set boundaries while helping your loved one.

Have an open and honest conversation with them about your concerns. Let them know you care and are worried about the impact marijuana is having on their life. You can then help them explore treatment options or even research options on their behalf.

If you or someone you know needs help to stop using marijuana, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional at OC Revive at (844) 964-2770. They can offer guidance, answer questions, and help you or your loved one begin the journey to recovery.

Building a Strong Foundation for Lasting Sobriety

Quitting smoking weed is a significant accomplishment, but maintaining sobriety requires ongoing effort and commitment. Here are some tips for building a strong foundation for lasting recovery:

Identify and avoid triggers: Recognize situations, people, or places that trigger your cravings for weed, and develop strategies to avoid or cope with them.

Develop healthy coping mechanisms: Learn healthy ways to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions without resorting to weed.

Build a sober social network: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who respect your decision to quit and encourage your recovery.

Continue attending therapy or support groups: Ongoing therapy or support group participation can provide valuable guidance and support as you navigate the challenges of recovery.

Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your successes, no matter how small, as they mark important steps in your journey to a healthier, weed-free life.


Quitting smoking weed is a personal journey that requires courage, commitment, and the right support. By understanding the challenges of withdrawal, exploring various quitting strategies, and prioritizing your mental well-being, you can successfully break free from the grip of marijuana addiction and embrace a life of sobriety. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are many resources available to help you achieve your goals. Seek professional help, connect with supportive individuals, and make positive lifestyle changes to build a strong foundation for lasting recovery.

How to Quit Smoking Weed | Cold Turkey vs Tapering | OC Revive

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At OC Revive, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to OC Revive today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 844-514-0665


Marijuana addiction, or Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), can manifest as an increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms when not using, difficulty controlling usage, neglecting responsibilities, and continued use despite negative consequences.

Common withdrawal symptoms include irritability, mood swings, anxiety, restlessness, sleep disturbances, decreased appetite, headaches, and fatigue.


Manage cravings through distraction techniques (exercise, hobbies), relaxation methods (deep breathing, meditation), maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding triggers, and reaching out for support.

Several resources are available, including therapists, counselors, addiction specialists, support groups like Marijuana Anonymous (MA), and addiction treatment centers like OC Revive.

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