Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on August 17, 2021

In recent years, marijuana has become more widely available to us than ever before, sold at designated dispensaries, as more and more people get to experience its unique effects, whether recreationally or medically. And with regular use comes the possibility of developing a habit that, after a while, may become a little difficult to control.

For various reasons, some cannabis users feel the need to cut back on their weed use for a certain period of time or even stop smoking weed permanently, which is why some of them wonder what would be the best way to do it. In this article, we’ll cover some background on weed use and ways you can cut back, as well as what you can expect in the aftermath.

Let’s start!

Is Weed Addictive?

Since weed is the most widely consumed psychotropic substance for both recreational and medical purposes, there is a general assumption that it isn’t addictive at all. However, that’s misleading.

While it’s known that, compared to other stronger substances that don’t have any medicinal properties, weed is much less harmful and addictive, users may still become dependent on it. (Budney et al, 2007)

However, this doesn’t happen with everyone. Most users can continue to take it recreationally for a long time without developing an addiction. But, research suggests that 30% of users will at some point develop dependence, especially if they’re heavy users. (Hasin, 2015) The risk increases by 4 to 7 times for adolescents who start using weed before the age of 18 when their brain is still developing. (Winters, 2008)

Marijuana dependence is more likely to happen to heavier, long-time users when they gradually become immune to the cannabinoids (CBD, and especially THC) that are responsible for the effects of weed and need to take more to feel it. Therefore, it could be said it’s different for everyone, but weed is by no means not addictive.

How Do You Know You Need to Cut Back on Weed?

Simply said, if you know, you know. Sometimes, there can be a big reason, like health problems, or feeling like it impacts your daily life and impedes your productivity at work, and in turn, this has an effect on your mental health, making you feel uninspired.

Other times you may feel like you’ve had too much and you’re becoming immune to it, so you need to wean off of it a little. Or, you may just not like the effects it has on you anymore, or, you may not even need a reason – it’s highly individual.

Tips on Cutting Back on Weed

Let’s see what practical steps you can take to reduce your weed intake.

Set Concrete Goals for Daily Amount

Sticking to a daily amount is a great way to start cutting back on weed. Set rules for yourself about how much weed you will smoke daily or weekly and try to follow them. You can measure out how much you would use in a day and place the portions in envelopes with the days of the week written on them. Just put the bong or the rolling paper out of your immediate sight until it’s time for the next dose of your favorite marijuana plant.

Buy Weed in Smaller Quantities

This tip is a bit obvious, but we promise it works. When you know how much weed you have, it’s easier to plan your intake ahead and make a schedule for how long it will last you. It will also make it harder to reach for more than your intended daily amount since you’ll know that you won’t have much left.

Plan Other Activities

Since reducing your weed sessions will free up some time, it would be useful to distract yourself by doing something else. You can watch your favorite tv show during that time, or take up new hobbies or do some form of physical activity so you can resist any cravings you may have. This may not be that easy at first, but if you find an activity you enjoy, you’ll soon forget that you wanted to have another joint.

Reduce Tobacco Intake

Tobacco is addictive, so if you usually mix tobacco and weed together, you won’t know what you’re craving and may end up surpassing your allocated daily weed amount.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When the body is used to function with a certain regular amount of weed on a daily basis, it adjusts over time and gets used to it. When you make changes and reduce this supply, it’ll take time for the body (and the mind) to readjust, hence the cannabis withdrawal symptoms. They are not comfortable if you experience them, but you need to remember that it’s only temporary.

Most users will experience withdrawal symptoms in one form or another when they cut back on weed for the first time. This shouldn’t be a cause of concern, however, as they are mostly mild, compared to withdrawal symptoms when quitting weed cold turkey, especially for heavier users or medical marijuana users.

The most common symptoms you may experience are difficulty sleeping, experiencing strange dreams, irritability, mood swings, feeling restlessness, and sometimes, aggression. Of course, there will be some craving, but again, this depends on the frequency of your previous use.

The side effects of withdrawal are predominantly felt short-term. They are most intensely felt on day 1, peaking on days 2 through 4, and then after day 5 until day 10 it’s pretty much over, or the symptoms noticeably decrease. Keep in mind that you may not feel all the above-mentioned symptoms, only some of them, or you may experience none at all.

How to Manage Withdrawals

One of the most important things would be to decrease tobacco use (if you’re a smoker) and alcohol use, as this may worsen the symptoms. Avoiding caffeine is also recommended, though you may feel like you’ll want to have coffee.

Drinking enough water and upping your fruit and vegetable intake may sound basic, but it really helps. Getting enough sleep and being more physically active, even if it means taking the stairs, is also recommended.

Since you’re not quitting weed, only reducing your intake, your withdrawal symptoms aren’t likely to be severe, but you’ll still need to ease the discomfort and reduce the cravings.

What if You Slip Up?

Creating a new habit from scratch means you need to adjust to the new. This is never a piece of cake and slip-ups are bound to happen. 

It’s perfectly normal to slip, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. If it happens, just continue from where you left and try to readjust. It may be difficult, but remember why you wanted to cut back on weed in the first place and look back at your progress.

Bottom line, it’s not a big deal to slip up. Just make sure you get back on track as you were and you will be fine. Of course, should you notice any unusual symptoms, it’s best to ask for professional help and get guidance on substance use.

Conclusion

Weed is one of the most popular and widely consumed substances in the US. It’s not regarded as addictive as other substances, but heavier and long-term use may lead to dependence. Instead of quitting, some users want to cut back on weed for various reasons.

Cutting back on weed may lead to experiencing some withdrawal symptoms, depending on the individual’s previous use. Most people will experience mild withdrawal symptoms that can last for about 10 days before they’re gone completely or significantly lessened.

Additional Sources

Budney AJ, Roffman R, Stephens RS, Walker D. Marijuana dependence and its treatment. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2007;4(1):4-16. doi:10.1151/ascp07414

Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235–1242. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858

Winters KC, Lee CY. Likelihood of developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder during youth: association with recent use and age. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008;92(1-3):239-247. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2007.08.005

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