Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 3, 2023

Weed is currently the most widely used drug around the world, and that isn’t likely to change in the near future. Smoking marijuana is especially common among young adults as a short-term solution for dealing with stress, anxiety, or as a way to unwind after a hard day at work.

Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug as a result of Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs” campaign in the 1970s. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30 percent of people who use marijuana get addicted to it, so weed can be addictive and lead to dependency.

Because of this and other reasons, some marijuana users see the benefit of cleaning their system of cannabis, and this article will focus on exactly that. If you have someone in your life who’s thinking about quitting marijuana, this article will help you figure out how you can help them to stop smoking weed.

The Effects of Smoking Marijuana

The endocannabinoid system is the system that’s mostly affected as a result of marijuana use and the cannabinoids present in weed. It’s responsible for regulating various processes in the body, including immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and others.

The general effect that marijuana has on users comes from the main cannabinoids THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). The former has psychoactive effects on marijuana users, while the latter provides anti-inflammatory, pain relief, and sedative effects. 

However, long-term use of cannabis, as well as using cannabis strains with high levels of THC can get users addicted to weed. Moreover, if a marijuana user wants to quit smoking weed, it’s very likely they’ll experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms like sleep difficulty, mood fluctuations, irritability, and other psychological and physical symptoms related to substance use disorders.

What Is Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction, or marijuana use disorder, is a psychological dependence on marijuana that can be clinically diagnosed. Marijuana users who get addicted to the drug feel that they need to consume marijuana in order to feel normal. That happens as a result of the brain being reprogrammed and weed affecting the natural production of the neurotransmitter anandamide.

Anandamide is responsible for the feeding behavior in humans, as well as the neural generation of motivation and pleasure, which is why these functions are affected in people who are addicted. This is why those who are addicted to marijuana should try to stop smoking weed and focus on detoxing their body. To help someone who is addicted to weed, follow the advice below.

Talk About Why They Want to Stop Smoking Weed

The most important thing when it comes to getting clean is having a support system. Marijuana users looking to stop smoking pot will benefit from having a family member, a close friend, or a support group by their side while they’re trying to kick this habit. 

The first step towards quitting weed is the cannabis user deciding to change their patterns of cannabis use, after which the support system comes in hand. You can help them figure out their reasons for wanting to quit, as well as help them develop a proper strategy.

Help Them Figure Out Their Approach for Quitting Marijuana

When it comes to quitting weed, there are a few common approaches:

  • Quitting cold turkey;
  • Reducing the weed intake gradually;
  • Getting professional help.

Quitting Weed Cold Turkey

If the user is the type of person who goes into action immediately, the cold turkey approach might have the best results. In order to succeed in quitting weed by using this method, users should:

  • Get rid of all their gear and smoking paraphernalia;
  • Make a list of alternative activities for moments when they feel triggered;
  • Try out new hobbies and sports;
  • Hang out with loved ones instead of smoking alone.

The Gradual Approach

If the user believes that quitting abruptly might be difficult, reducing the use of cannabis over time might be a good idea. A great thing about this method is that it’ll decrease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms which are expected to come. The important steps for the gradual approach include:

  • The user choosing the quit date;
  • Planning how to decrease weed use (taper off);
  • Starting some new activities and hobbies as a replacement for smoking weed.

Getting Professional Help to Quit Smoking Weed

Another method that can be useful for people trying to quit weed is enrolling into a professional addiction treatment program for marijuana addiction, or heading to a treatment facility and detoxing there (you can help them to enroll). These programs help you go through the detox period and provide users with support groups like “Marijuana Anonymous” which will make the transition period easier. 

Marijuana users can also benefit from talking to a licensed therapist or psychologist either in person or through an addiction helpline. They will help them find methods to cope with their withdrawal symptoms, as well as offer counseling to improve their mental health throughout this stressful period. If you know a good therapist or a psychologist, you could ask them if they’d like to schedule a session. Below, we’ll go over the three most common approaches for getting professional help, and you can go over them with the person you’re trying to help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This treatment approach requires marijuana users to identify the distressing thoughts and emotions, as well as develop proper skills to address and manage those thoughts. CBT teaches users to recognize the stress that triggers substance abuse and replace that habit with a positive one – like going out in nature, calling a friend, or doing a creative project.

Contingency Management

The contingency management approach involves rewarding yourself for being consistent and not smoking marijuana. For example, people who are doing contingency management treatment will give themselves vouchers, gift cards, movie tickets, or other rewards for each negative drug test result.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

The MET approach is focused on examining the reason for giving up weed. This helps users to figure out what underlying factors may affect the use of weed, and how they can prioritize their other goals instead of smoking weed.

What Else Can Help Users to Stop Smoking Marijuana?

A lot of cannabis users have the same problem when it comes to smoking weed, and that’s their weed-smoking social circle. It’s quite common that a lot of people in their social circle consume it, so it’s highly possible that they will continue to get exposed to it even though they’re trying to quit. You can help them by arranging social gatherings with people who have healthier habits and plan activities in nature, concerts, or an activity you know they’d enjoy.

You can advise them to set clear boundaries when it comes to the people who consume cannabis. Tell them that they should inform these people that they’re currently detoxing from weed and they need their distance so they don’t get trapped into consuming weed. They may also benefit from refraining from seeing friends who use weed often in order to stay on track.

The Bottom Line When It Comes to Helping Someone Quit Using Cannabis

When it comes to quitting weed, the most important thing is for the marijuana smoker to want to quit weed and has a clear reason why they want to do it. While some people can stop using weed without issue, others may deal with unwanted side effects. This is where you can help and be a moral support for a friend or a loved one who’s trying to kick this habit.

If they’re having a hard time with their detoxification process, it may be beneficial to talk to a mental health professional who can be there for them and support them during this difficult period. They can try CBD, MET, and the contingency method of approach.

Whichever method they decide on will most probably help them develop healthy habits in the future that take them further away from smoking weed (and closer to setting new goals and finding alternatives for spending their free time).

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.