3.5 months off cannabis (intense symptoms)

Postby pleasepausepaws » Sun Mar 21, 2021 3:36 am

Hello everyone, as this seems like the best place online to share experiences with PAWS from cannabis, I figured I’d share what I’ve been experiencing. I’m in the middle of my 3rd month quitting cold turkey. And it hasn’t been fun. Prior to my quit I was consuming weed pretty much 24/7 for nearly 3 years (and prior to that while I wasn't yet using habitually I consumed high dose edibles semi-often for many years).

During the majority of my addiction I was smoking as soon as I woke up, smoking before bed, and smoking as often as possible in between. There were definitely days when I dialed it back for various reasons, but I always preferred to be consuming as much as I could. I’d be doing bubbler/bong hits until my lungs hurt, I'd smoke 1.5g cones packed as full as I could get them back to back, I’d take high doses of THC oil (ostensibly to give my lungs a break) and then smoke more on top of that. I could elaborate further but suffice to say my consumption was very high. Eventually I just got totally sick of it, it was very obvious that cannabis was holding me back in life, causing me to fall into a lot of habits that I wasn’t proud of and to just spend my time spacing out and doing nothing. By the end of my habit I wasn’t really even enjoying the high anywhere close to like I used to, yet I still felt compelled to get high anyway only to become stuck feeling simultaneously too high and not high enough.

Even when my tolerance was very high cannabis was always very intense and psychedelic for me (I preferred high potency sativas which definitely leaned more in this direction). I got a lot of accelerated and altered thought patterns when I was high, which for the first half of my addiction really helped me work through some personal issues (which is the main reason why I started smoking so much in the first place), but for the second half of my addiction the thoughts frequently turned to "you smoke way too much you gotta cut this sh** out". Also it was giving me HPPD, which I didn’t really mind all that much, but I did recognize that was probably not a good thing in the long term.

So I knew the time had come when I’d have to quit for good. I was about to turn 30 and I decided that that was as good a time to draw a line in the sand as I was going to get and that my time with cannabis would remain confined to my 20s.

I had the impression that when I stopped I’d likely have a rough time, not only because my consumption was so high, but because I’d done temporary quits a few times already, with the intention of returning to weed in "moderation" once I started again, and never made it more than a couple weeks to a month before coming back and hitting the weed even harder than I had before as if I had to make up for lost time (those temporary quits often had one-off smoke sessions in the middle, or I would continue consuming cannabis oils just in much lower doses than I would otherwise, so I was rarely fully abstinent). During the last phase of my use I had ended up in a pattern of abstinence alternating with binging, which was making me feel really unstable. Like I couldn’t enjoy being sober OR high anymore. After the last couple of those short-lived quits (when I started to get more serious about actually not consuming any cannabis products during my time away from it) I noticed I was experiencing kindling-like effects, where the symptoms of being off the weed were getting more severe each time. Eventually I was just so sick of wasting all my money on weed and doing unknown damage to my health by being blazed so damn often and inhaling so much smoke and ash, that I had to tear myself away from the stuff for good. Part of me still thinks that at some point I could use it again for special occasions, but if I have to go through all this PAWS crap again I know it’s definitely not worth it.

So I guess I’ll divide this into the effects that were most prominent during the “acute withdrawal” phase before going into what i’m experiencing now as the “post-acute" phase.

Here’s a big list of symptoms that appeared starting a few days to weeks after I quit (in early December):
Night sweats, body odor, oily skin, head rushes, insomnia, extremely vivid dreams/nightmares (when I actually was able to sleep), dry eyes, tiredness/exasperated/exhaustion/low energy/fatigue, easily distracted/lack of focus/mind fog, clumsiness/lack of coordination, headache, pressure behind eyes/sinuses, jaw clench, low libido, heart palpitations, erectile dysfunction, stiff/sore muscles (felt like a full body bruise), creaky/popping joints, sensitivity to light (ie bright computer screen), sensitivity to caffeine & alcohol (not that I drink much these days), random pains, pins and needles tingling sensations, semi-sore/dry phlegmy throat, strange taste on the tongue, lung emptiness/soreness, shortness of breath, stomach gurgles/gas/gastrointestinal discomfort, low appetite, restlessness, extreme irritability, mood swings ranging from total emotional neutrality to intense anger to depression and crying at the drop of a hat to strange flashes of mild euphoria, tinnitus, eye floaters, anxiety/panic attacks.

Many of those symptoms overlap with each other, some of them were significantly more severe than others, and there’s possibly other stuff that I’m forgetting, but yeah that’s A LOT.

Thankfully the majority of those symptoms gradually started to fade away after a while. I’d say the peak of all these symptoms was from around 2 weeks after my last use to about 8 weeks after. I know it takes about 4-6 weeks for THC to be eliminated from the body (possibly longer for very heavy users like me), and that does seem to line up roughly with when the acute effects of quitting slowly started to fade. However fading does not mean going away completely and many of these effects have continued to linger in a less severe capacity ever since. While the mental effects in particular have definitely been steadily improving with regular but increasingly short-lived rebounds (I can think much more clearly now which is very nice) and the HPPD I had has pretty much faded away completely, a handful of the physical effects in particular have actually gotten WORSE since then.

These are some of the most significant symptoms that have continued to linger, not as severely as they were in the acute phase, but nonetheless still noticeably very present:
Lung emptiness/soreness, shortness of breath, erectile dysfunction/decreased libido (I quit porn at the same time as I quit weed which undoubtedly contributes to this symptom), low energy/exhaustion/fatigue/tiredness (still feel a lot of this), feelings of weakness, muscle soreness/stiffness, gastrointestinal discomfort (stomach gurgling and churning and gas), poor sleep.

Completely sleepless nights have become rare (though I still have them sometimes, usually a couple nights in a row every few weeks), but I’m still sleeping very lightly. Usually I’ll wake up every couple hours (probably every REM cycle considering I always remember dreams each time I wake up), go to the bathroom, and go back to sleep. The average number of times I wake up seems to hover around 3 times, but some nights are far worse than others, and even when I have a good night (only waking up once or twice) in the mornings I don’t feel fully rested. I don't think I've had a single night where I've slept though the night without waking up at least once since I quit smoking.

There are a handful of symptoms that seem to have become worse over time and it's precisely because they have gotten worse they have become the most concerning to me at present. These are all physical effects:
body tingles/pins and needles, random mild pains (usually transient sometimes lingering), creaky/popping joints/inflammation (like when you crack your knuckles or crack your back, but everywhere. Knees arms hips shoulders toes fingers wrists back chest ankle and so on, many of these places I didn't know that was even possible to happen)

This group of symptoms has steadily worsened over the course of the last 3 months. It was definitely noticeable in December but it seems to have been building up ever since with the last two months being much worse than before. And it’s not like these symptoms are located in specific consistent places. The symptoms seem to move around randomly all over my body with little rhyme or reason. Last week it was all in my knees and hips and toes making it uncomfortable to sit in a cross legged position. But that seems to have mostly gone away. Prior to that I had a few days when it was in my upper back and that was really uncomfortable, but then that went away as well. This week its largely moved into my knuckles and wrists and for some reason my back left heel (but not the right one). It's never exclusively in one area at a time, it just seems like certain areas get the emphasis at different times.
And it's never all the symptoms at once in one area either, Some areas I'll get the pins and needles/tingles, other areas I'll get the cracking joints, other areas I'll get mild pains, other areas I'll just feel stiff, and they will shift around with different areas getting more or less severe and changing with no obvious pattern or correlation. I did experience a handful of days in the last couple weeks where it seemed like these symptoms had reduced significantly but that was short lived and it came right back after. Over the last month especially, I’ve seen slow and gradual but steady improvements in almost every area except for this group of symptoms, which has been quite frustrating.

I feel like a total burnout with a body that is glitching out on me, which really sucks. I definitely do not feel anywhere close to how I felt prior to smoking weed, and that's even considering that I've been keeping pretty fit, I try to eat healthy and stay active. I used to be overweight and out of shape but currently I'm exactly where I want to be weight-wise and even have a little bit of muscle. So I should be in the best health of my life right now, but I sure don’t feel like it! I feel more like I've aged 60 years overnight! It feels like quitting weed caused my whole endocannabinoid system to be extremely disrupted, knocking the equilibrium of my entire body completely out of whack.

Yeah I know that was long but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. Feedback, tips, questions, ect are welcome. If I notice significant changes I’ll post updates.

TL;RD: PAWS sucks. the first month and change was brutal, some things have improved since then, but many symptoms have actually gotten worse.
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#1

Postby Winzu » Sun Mar 21, 2021 10:41 am

Hold on. After month 4 to 5 it changes from daily torture to handicap. You feel like recovery is indeed possible and you are able to manage it all.
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#2

Postby bawdyheated » Mon Mar 22, 2021 1:07 pm

It is all part of the process. Just hold on and be strong.
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#3

Postby Exstonerchick » Wed Mar 24, 2021 2:06 am

I’m at 4 months and some change and have finally started to see some of the physical symptoms you describe diminish, thank god They were horrid at the beginning of PAWS but lessened gradually. One thing that was HUGE was learning I had a vitamin D deficiency. Have you been checked? The deficiency exacerbated everything— joints not only ached but would literally lock up. Muscle twitching and weakness like you wouldn’t believe. Now that I’m on the mend I still have the odd ache and pain, particularly in the back, tight jaw, some fatigue, and also hand/finger tingling. I read on here that the physical stuff is a somatic manifestation of anxiety, which makes total sense when you consider all the work your brain is doing to recalibrate. Slowly but surely I’m beginning to feel more and more like myself and I promise you will too. The physical stuff is insanely uncomfortable but all part of this whack PAWS process. Meditate, move, take your vitamins, and believe with all your being that one day all will be well. Namaste friend.
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#4

Postby pleasepausepaws » Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:45 am

I do take a vitamin D supplement (even prior to quitting weed I took it), so hopefully that isn't among my issues. I also take omega 3s. I was playing around with a couple other supplements in the first couple months after quitting too, NAC was one (I saw there was some inconclusive research done on it in regards to helping with cannabis addiction so I thought I'd try it), magnesium was another, but neither seemed to help much. So after finishing what I had I stopped taking them. I also dabbled with various mushroom supplements like Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, and Turkey Tail. But again, I don't think they helped much either.

I have been constantly meditating throughout this and that has helped a lot. I started a meditation habit before I quit weed, but it's SO much easier to mediate without weed.

Either way I know time is going to be the healer and there isn't much I can do to speed that up as much as I'd like there to be.
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#5

Postby john5:6 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:23 am

Your symptoms are pretty similar to mine so far. I’m at 4.5 months and I feel everything has taken a turn for the worse. Some weeks ago I felt like everything was finally going back to pre-weed, then last Sunday I started feeling dizzy like buzzed when I used to be high, and suddenly I started feeling warm, my whole body in pain, a general malaise feeling like sick, nausea, my lymph nodes hurt, my middle back hurts a lot, can’t sleep again... This feeling is so intense I just can’t seem to find words to describe it, I feel like if I was dying from a terminal disease. I also have gastric issues, sometimes I’m constipated, then I’m running with diarrea. Nothing seems to confort me... I went to the doctor... again... And blood work came back normal, he just noticed a couple of swollen nodes in my neck and armpit (which I seems to happen a lot in some people on the forum). I have now more physical symptoms than anything else.
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#6

Postby ultralobster » Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:21 am

I feel you on pretty much every symptom you described. My appetite is back to normal at this point but aside from that my chest is still heavy here and there, I wake up a couple times a night, I'm haunted by intense anxiety and paranoia and depression, one of my lymph nodes below my ear was really swollen for a couple weeks, night sweating has diminished but only a little bit. I was freaking out bc i thought it was symptoms of something else but all my bloodwork and testing has been fine.

At the present moment my right leg has been achey in my thigh, my jaw has been really stiff and creaky, and also I really relate to you saying you were taking weed oil because that's what I was doing. I had stopped smoking for a couple weeks but was taking oil to sleep although I was having a LOT of it throughout my days because it was fun lol. Today I also had a weird taste in my mouth for a solid minute exactly, it was like the taste of the weed oil, as if I was tasting it. Really strange but I hope that's just a sign of it working out of my body. I really feel you though, everything you describe really hits home.
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#7

Postby pleasepausepaws » Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:16 am

About 4 and a half months now. I said above that I tried a few supplements that didnt seem to work. but I've actually continued taking the Turley Tail mushroom supplement since when I ran out of it a few weeks ago I had a flare up of symptoms. That totally could have been coincidental, but I figured I might as well continue taking it for a while longer.

Cravings have definitely been a challenge this week because the weather is now getting really nice where I live and my current circumstances would be perfect for the good ol wake and bake. Beautiful warm sunny mornings blazing in the backyard listening to music and watching the sun rise was my #1 favourite time to get high. And it's definitely a big bummer not to have that.

I have noticed a huge increase in my creativity which is a big positive. I've been doing a lot of writing and working on a lot of music. That's a really nice plus.

I think my sleep has improved a bit more, I still wake up in the middle of the night, but it seems a bit less frequent.
I still have been dealing with low energy, I had quit coffee well over a year ago but I've been returning to it more often recently to give me that boost that I've been sorely missing.

I'm still definitely dealing with erectile dysfunction, occasionally I can get hard without issue, but more frequently it either wont happen at all or just gets stuck as a semi. I'm not currently in a relationship where that function would be required of me, so I can't speak to whether or not that situation would be stimulating enough to overcome it. Maybe it would be idk.

Random body tingles are still present though that has seemed to have lessened somewhat, as have the random pains, though they do still pop up. I feel like my lungs are still far from having fully healed.

The most prominent and frustrating symptom that continues to be very present is the physical stuff with enflamed joints, aching, popping, cracking audibly, ect. I can't really tell if this symptom is staying the same or getting worse. But I continue to really not like it. feels like i've got the bones of an old man.
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#8

Postby Winzu » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:44 am

pleasepausepaws wrote:About 4 and a half months now. I said above that I tried a few supplements that didnt seem to work. but I've actually continued taking the Turley Tail mushroom supplement since when I ran out of it a few weeks ago I had a flare up of symptoms. That totally could have been coincidental, but I figured I might as well continue taking it for a while longer.

Cravings have definitely been a challenge this week because the weather is now getting really nice where I live and my current circumstances would be perfect for the good ol wake and bake. Beautiful warm sunny mornings blazing in the backyard listening to music and watching the sun rise was my #1 favourite time to get high. And it's definitely a big bummer not to have that.

I have noticed a huge increase in my creativity which is a big positive. I've been doing a lot of writing and working on a lot of music. That's a really nice plus.

I think my sleep has improved a bit more, I still wake up in the middle of the night, but it seems a bit less frequent.
I still have been dealing with low energy, I had quit coffee well over a year ago but I've been returning to it more often recently to give me that boost that I've been sorely missing.

I'm still definitely dealing with erectile dysfunction, occasionally I can get hard without issue, but more frequently it either wont happen at all or just gets stuck as a semi. I'm not currently in a relationship where that function would be required of me, so I can't speak to whether or not that situation would be stimulating enough to overcome it. Maybe it would be idk.

Random body tingles are still present though that has seemed to have lessened somewhat, as have the random pains, though they do still pop up. I feel like my lungs are still far from having fully healed.

The most prominent and frustrating symptom that continues to be very present is the physical stuff with enflamed joints, aching, popping, cracking audibly, ect. I can't really tell if this symptom is staying the same or getting worse. But I continue to really not like it. feels like i've got the bones of an old man.


I really understand what you feel like an old man. The bones easily pop and the muscles generally feel very tight and weak. This is a clear symptoms of PAWS that over-time gets miraculously resolved.

Every time I had PAWS my knees are sore and constantly pop. It is a disgusting feeling sometimes. I went to multiple physical therapists but time was the only healer.
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#9

Postby pleasepausepaws » Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:19 pm

Winzu wrote:I really understand what you feel like an old man. The bones easily pop and the muscles generally feel very tight and weak. This is a clear symptoms of PAWS that over-time gets miraculously resolved.

Every time I had PAWS my knees are sore and constantly pop. It is a disgusting feeling sometimes. I went to multiple physical therapists but time was the only healer.


TBH this symptom is like 90% of the reason why I feel like I can't return to weed any time soon. If I didn't have this issue I would be SO much more easily tempted to return to it.
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#10

Postby Winzu » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:28 pm

pleasepausepaws wrote:
Winzu wrote:I really understand what you feel like an old man. The bones easily pop and the muscles generally feel very tight and weak. This is a clear symptoms of PAWS that over-time gets miraculously resolved.

Every time I had PAWS my knees are sore and constantly pop. It is a disgusting feeling sometimes. I went to multiple physical therapists but time was the only healer.


TBH this symptom is like 90% of the reason why I feel like I can't return to weed any time soon. If I didn't have this issue I would be SO much more easily tempted to return to it.


The scary part of PAWS is that when you feel recovered. You are so happy to finally live and enjoy your life. You forget about all the suffering and start to romanticize weed again. I see so many people relapse and having to conquer PAWS again for a year or two. It is so extremely sad.

PAWS has been the worst suffering in my entire life as of now. I really hope that I will never ever have to go through it again.
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