cannabis flower buds against pink backdrop
Micky Wiswedel/Stocksy

Many assume cannabis is pretty much harmless. Maybe you occasionally get some weird side effects, like paranoia or cotton mouth, but for the most part it calms you down and improves your mood.

“I think that’s nothing wrong with it.”

While past research suggests that cannabis may be less harmful than other substances with lower rates of developing a substance use disorder, it does not mean that harm and addiction will never occur.

Some people also experience unwanted effects, from physical symptoms to hallucinations to strained relationships.

We have the knowledge and experience to help you cut out cannabis.

It is a good idea to decide if you want to change your cannabis use. Increasing self-awareness about the reasons why you want to stop smoking can help you succeed.

“Our ‘why’ is an important piece because it provides information that anchors us,” says Kim Egel, a therapist in Cardiff, California. “Clarity on why we want to change can validate our decision to break habits and motivate us to seek out new coping methods.”

Your reasons for quitting can help strengthen your resolve to stop smoking and outline goals for success.

Maybe you started using it to relax or manage anxiety. Perhaps it helps you deal with chronic pain or sleeplessness. But over time, the downsides may have started to outnumber the benefits.

When they notice cannabis affects their quality of life, people often consider cutting back.

  • It is becoming a go-to method for managing emotional distress.
  • Relationship problems are caused by that.
  • affecting mood, memory, or concentration
  • Reducing interest in hobbies.
  • It is becoming something to do instead of a solution.
  • decreasing energy for self-care

There is no perfect way to stop smoking cannabis. It is necessary to go through some trial and error before you make a decision on the best approach.

Considering pros and cons of different methods can help.

Maybe you want to do it quick, like ripping off a bandage. In that case, you might decide to try packing up your cannabis and going “cold turkey.”

If you’re concerned about withdrawal symptoms or think you’ll need some support to quit, you might decide to talk to an addiction specialist or call an addiction helpline for a few pointers.

If cannabis helps you manage physical or mental health symptoms, you should try to stop smoking. Professional support can help here.

If you want to quit cold turkey

Are you ready to stop using cannabis? Some general steps are considered.

Get rid of your gear

“It’s harder to quit with a lot of weed and smoking paraphernalia. Throwing it out or passing it on will prevent ready access, which can help you avoid slip ups during the withdrawal period.”

Vary your routine

Changing your behaviors can help you avoid using cannabis.

If you have a habit of smoking in the morning, try to stop.

If you smoke before bed, try to stop.

“Changing up routines can be difficult, and it usually doesn’t happen over night.”

“Try to experiment with a few options, and don’t worry if you have trouble sticking to your new routine.”

Pick up a new hobby

If you like smoking, some new hobbies may help.

“Consider revisiting old favorites. If you don’t like your old hobbies anymore, try something new, like rock climbing, or learning a new language.”

What matters most is finding something you truly enjoy, since that makes it more likely you’ll want to keep doing it.

Enlist support from loved ones

“Friends and family who know you don’t want to smoke can offer support.”

  • Helping you think of things to do.
  • You can practice physical activity or meditation.
  • Encouraging you when you have withdrawals and There are cravings..

Knowing that other people support your decision can help you feel more confident.

If you want to try a gradual approach

It might be difficult to quit if you use a lot of cannabis. Reducing use over time can help you have more success and can help decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Here are some things to do to get started.

Choose a quit date

A deadline can help you design a plan for quitting.

“Pick a date too far in the future can make it seem like you’re too far away to be interested in it.”

Plan how you’ll taper off

Do you want to decrease weed use by a specific amount? Do you use less each day? Do you want to use as little as possible?

Some dispensaries now offer lower-potency strains or products that contain lower THC content. Switching to a weaker product that produces fewer psychoactive effects may also be helpful to cutting back.

Keep yourself busy

Once you stop using cannabis, you will have an easier time continuing with the established patterns once you get involved with new activities.

Staying busy can help distract you from the symptoms of withdrawal.

There are Triggers that can have a powerful impact. Specific cues you associate with smoking may lead to There are cravings..

Identifying potential triggers and developing a plan for when they occur can help ensure long-term success regardless of whether you quit cold turkey or gradually reduce use.

A few possible causes.

  • “It’s difficult to sleep.”
  • Work stress can be very high.
  • You used to smoke with friends.
  • You used to watch TV shows while high.

Try to come up with a list of activities you can do when you get triggered.

  • Taking a warm bath will help you sleep.
  • restarting your favorite comedy TV series to decrease stress
  • A trusted friend who supports your decision is the one you should call.

Not everyone experiences cannabis withdrawal symptoms, but for those who do, they can be pretty uncomfortable.

Common symptoms include:

Withdrawal symptoms generally begin a day or so after you quit and clear up within around 2-4 weeks.

You can handle symptoms on your own, even if you need the help of a healthcare professional.

  • drinking less caffeine to improve sleep
  • using deep breathing and other relaxation methods to address anxiety
  • drinking a lot of water.

Egel says that therapy can be a great option when you want to change your behavior.

She says that it is common to turn to substance use to cope with difficult feelings.

A therapist can help you explore any underlying issues that may be contributing to your cannabis use and offer support as you begin to confront dark emotions. They can help you address any issues that may be related to your cannabis use.

Any kind of therapy can have benefit, but the following three approaches might be particularly helpful.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Most therapists have training in CBT, which may be beneficial for quitting smoking. This treatment approach helps you learn to identify unwanted or distressing thoughts and emotions and develop productive skills to address and manage them.

If you use cannabis when stressed, you probably know that it helps reduce stress and calm you down.

If you want to learn to recognize signs of stress, challenge your desire to smoke cannabis, and replace the habit with a more helpful one, you should use theCBT.

Contingency management

This approach reinforces quitting behaviors. In other words, it rewards you for not smoking.

A contingency management treatment plan participant might receive vouchers for restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, or an entry for a prize drawing if they have a negative test result.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)

MET is about examining your reasons for giving up cannabis. Instead of trying to address any underlying issues that may be related to your use of weed, your therapist will help you explore and prioritize goals associated with your use, usually by asking open-ended questions.

This treatment can serve as a first step to any therapy approach for substance use. It can be especially helpful if you know you want to quit smoking but aren’t quite sure why.

It is difficult to quit smoking with friends or in social settings. Some people assume that cannabis is harmless, so you might feel uncomfortable talking about quitting.

Talk about it

It may be helpful to explain to others why you quit. Maybe you have noticed that it affects your moods, sleep, and ability to focus.

This decision is entirely personal. But if you believe others may think you’re judging their continued use, try using I-statements (“I don’t like how I feel after smoking weed”) and explaining your decision from your perspective (“I need to make a change”).

This shows you are respecting their choices while also making one for yourself.

Set boundaries

If you still plan to spend time around people who smoke, setting boundaries for yourself can help.

These might be personal boundaries.

  • I will refuse if someone asks me to smoke.

You share boundaries with your circle.

  • I will step outside when you smoke.
  • “Don’t invite me to smoke or ask me to smoke while you’re smoking.”

Reconsider certain relationships and environments, if necessary

If you quit marijuana, you may be able to evaluate the people, places, and things that used to take up your time.

Egel says that you may need to limit your exposure to certain environments or relationships to honor your boundaries.

It can be difficult to accept a decision to stop using substances. These changes might not have to be permanent.

It is possible to revisit certain friends or places after you have picked up some new techniques.

Your friends will respect your decision to quit smoking and not encourage you to start again. If your friends respond differently, you may want to rethink spending time with them.

You might decide to go cold turkey but then smoke again. After one bad night of sleep, you decide to smoke a joint to get some rest.

Don’t get down on yourself. This happens to most people trying to quit. Research suggests it often takes multiple attempts to quit successfully, so take heart. You’re absolutely not alone, and you haven’t failed.

Breaking habits can be challenging, but resolving to try again keeps you on the right track.

Focus not on the setback, but on the change you did make — several days without use. Then challenge yourself to increase that period of abstinence next time.

You can get support from a professional without going through a traditional rehabilitation program. Simple talk therapy can help you develop self-compassion and feel supported during the quitting process.

It is not always easy to quit alone. These resources can help you find support.

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a 24-hour helpline that can help you find treatment in your area and get more information about addiction recovery.
  • SMART Recovery is a science-based self-help approach to addiction recovery. Learn more at their website or find a meeting in your area.
  • Apps like I Am Sober can help you stay on track with your plan to quit.

“Some people can use cannabis without a problem, but many people have issues with dependence or side effects. You can take a do it yourself approach to quitting, but it doesn’t work for everyone.”

If you are having a hard time sticking with a self-guided approach, you should talk to a mental health professional.

Crystal Raypole worked as an editor for GoodTherapy. Her interests include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. She is committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.