my marijuana quit diary

Postby johnrlivingston » Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:30 pm

Hello all,

Let me preface this post by admitting I've been lurking here a while, and have learned so much from the experience and advice of everyone on this site! It means so much to know others are going through marijuana withdrawal and recovery, where 'common knowledge' suggests no such thing exists. To this end I wish to contribute my experience, from start to finish, and would like to use this forum as a tool to do so. The one thing we all need - more than anything - is the assurance that one day the pain, anxiety, depression, and confusion will lift. I pray I have the strength to see that end, and for this diary to serve as a source of hope for others - just as your stories have served as a source of hope for me.

I've been an occassional smoker all my life - in my mid-40s now - but I never had a problem with weed until 'medical marijuana' made growing my own a legal possibility. For the past 3 years or so, that's what I've done. During those years, I smoked day and night, having access to an effectively unlimited supply of extremely high quality, organic herb (mostly sativa). My tolerance grew quickly, to the point where I was probably going through 1 oz / month. That's when the problems started. As many here report, I started to develop problems with anxiety, high or not, where I never had such problems before. I started having chronic muscle aches, mostly in my back, chronic headaches, problems dealing with stress, tinnitus, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and more. I fell into depression, which combined with my inability to handle stress and focus, resulted in the failure of my business. I saw doctor after doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me - completely unaware any of it was related to weed. Why I couldn't put the pieces together I don't know, other than to say belief is a powerful force. If you believe that weed is 'harmless' and 'non-addicting', you tend to ignore the obvious facts to the contrary.

Anyway - really long story a bit shorter - I quit, and went through horrible withdrawals. Whoever says weed doesn't cause physical problems doesn't know what they're talking about! The only thing worse than the physical problems were the emotional ones. I went through hell. By the end of that time, I was feeling much better. But I still wasn't sure it was weed(stupid, I know), and tired of dealing with doctors, I ran my own experiment: I started smoking again to see what happened.

Initially, all my remaining problems pretty much vanished! Feeling pretty sure I was, in fact, going through withdrawal, I then stopped again, and they returned. Each and every problem returned. Proof positive. Time to quit for good.

That's where I'm at now. I now know, for sure, that my heavy use caused numerous physical and mental problems while using. I know now that withdrawal from weed caused even more physical and mental problems. And I'm confident - at least at the time of this writing (one of my 'good days') - that I can get back to normal given enough time.

My plan is to post every week, until I feel I'm back to 'normal'. I'm currently on Day 14 of quitting cold turkey after spending a month weening down my use. So my first two posts following this will be playing catch-up. I'll do my best to make my weekly entries past those two.

You've all done so much for me already. I hope I can return the favor.

- JR
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Postby johnrlivingston » Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:51 pm

Week 1:

The last few days before I quit I ramped up my use some in anticipation of the pain. I had been weening down for a month, and every day going through withdrawals. The time I quit before - cold turkey - was so unbearable I knew I needed to ease myself into it. I believe this is the reason that for the first couple days, I felt relatively fine, except for having problems sleeping and mild back aches.

Day 3 is when things really hit me. I woke up, after not-so-great sleep, feeling OK, but my midday I was going downhill fast. My eyes were burning and red, my anxiety was ramping up, my ears rang (tinnitus), my back, neck, and shoulders were very sore, I had a headache, and lots of facial pressure / sinus issues. I was very fatigued, but couldn't have slept if I had tried. Cravings / pangs developed and became pretty intense. I don't know how to explain the feeling unless by relating it to quitting nicotine. The same feeling existed - just an aweful feeling - but unlike nicotine, I had all these other symptoms as well. I never thought I'd say quitting weed was worse than quitting cigs, but it is. BY FAR.

During the first week, I tried drinking alcohol to make things better, but most times it made things worse. I experienced this somewhat before quitting - an intolerance to alcohol which is very much unlike me. Now in withdrawal it's worse. Alcohol instantly makes me feel even worse, especially in the anxiety department.

It seems i'm getting some sleep every other night, though I have terrible dreams every night. They're emotionally frightening. I won't go into details on the dreams, other than to say they're vivid and completely wacked out. But they all feel terrible. When I wake from them I'm very anxious, and it takes me some time before I feel normal afterwards. The feelings they evoke linger.

My mood swings and symptom-swings have been severe. One moment I'm angry and highly irritable, the next I'm depressed and shedding tears. I go from being hopeful about my future to being overwhelmed by simple tasks and fearful of everything. Anxiety comes & goes for no obvious reason, without any external influence.

I've started feeling sick around day 4... sore throat coming on along with stomach pain/cramps/diarrhea. Also beginning to have random muscle tremors. Eyes are dry and irritated all the time, ears are ringing constantly, muscles are usually sore, and I have a headache most of the time.

Day 5 and my pangs / cravings are gone! That's awesome, because combined with everything else they're pure misery. But if the past is any indicator, they'll return.

Day 7, and everything remains random. Stomach problems have cleared up for the moment, and my sore throat has gone away. But most of the other problems remain. I'm optimistic and fairly 'happy' about half the time, severely depressed and/or anxious & irritable the other half. No rhyme or reason to it.
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Postby johnrlivingston » Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:08 pm

Week 2:

I started out the week feeling very positive. It seemed like most of my physical problems were improving, and my mood swings were becoming less intense. I was, however, starting to have real problems with racing, repetitive thoughts. My sleep was still hit or miss, and my dark dreams remained. But pangs / cravings were completely gone. Back aches were minimal, headaches rare, and anxiety becoming more manageable. For a second, I thought maybe I had gotten off easy.

Then along came day 10:

I woke to a painful, swollen belly. What I could eat would fill me up instantly, and cause me to bloat with gas. My eyes were burning, my sinuses were burning, I had very tense neck/shoulders, and my sore throat was returning. I didn't have any pangs/cravings, but I felt worse than ever. My mood was horribly depressed. I felt my direction in life was pointless, that nothing I did or could do would have any meaning. I felt lonely and lost. The feelings of illness continued to grow. I developed a fever blister which always means my immune system has taken a hit. I was having hot flashes, and soaking the bed at night with sweat. Terrible dreams continued, as did the racing/repetitive thoughts. HOWEVER - my anxiety - gone. It seems like it was replaced with depression. The change was as abrupt as turning off a light.

Two days later, all my symptoms started to improve. Only the pangs came back WITH A VENGENCE! Easily more intense than ever so far. Day 12 was the worst for pangs, even as my feelings of illness receded. I was so bad off all I wanted to do was lie in bed, but sleep wouldn't come no matter how exhausted I was. And I was exhausted!

Two days after that - which brings me to today, and my fever blister is gone, all my feelings of sickness are gone, and my physical problems are better than ever. I have periods of depression and anxiety, but I'm getting better at dealing with them. I'm finding I can reduce my anxiety if I put forth the effort (focuses breathing, happy thoughts, walks, etc). My eyes feel better than they have since starting, muscle tremors are pretty much gone, and while I still have dark dreams, I'm sleeping better, and I can recover from the terrible emotions they leave in their wake much quicker than before.

I've made it 14 days, and feel very positive at this point in time. What will week 3 bring? From what I can tell so far, the only thing predictable about weed withdrawal is that it's completely unpredictable. For now I'm just trying to enjoy the good times, which come at random and last who-knows-how-long
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Postby hankhill » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:43 am

Hey bro, shot in the dark here but what your describing doesn't sound like weed withdrawls...the dreams and anxiety and depression yes, but the sinuses and bloatedness and all that, you sound like you have a bug or something. Also i've been reading about bad bacteria in your gut that could be causing your digestive issues and possibly even your depression!

Just an idea, maybe but a few bottles of kombucha, drink half a bottle a day (it's gross at first, but now I get weird cravings for it) and see how you feel.

Also are you exercising? Your body NEEDS to move. Go lift some weights. **** running, unless you like to run. I personally hate running but do it anyway occasionally. I never got the runners high all the people talk about these days.

good luck bro, hope your not high right now
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Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:30 pm

I understand your suspicions, hank. If I hadn't already gone through this before - more than once - I wouldn't make the connection either. But I can say with confidence my stomach issues, along with all my other physical issues, are directly related to withdrawal. The last time I went through this I saw numerous doctors, withstood a barage of tests, and no organic cause was found. The stomach issues wax & wane in unison with other symptoms, which is not consistent with a viral/bacterial infection. And in the past. smoking after a period of withdrawal IMMEDIATELY made them dissipate. I think if you read other people's accounts on this forum you'll realize I'm not alone in this ;) The 'sinus issues' are actually migraine symptoms, which again are directly related to my withdrawal. This isn't my first rodeo, unfortunately.

Anyway - TODAY MARKS WEEK 3!!! 21 days. I've faced many challenges this week, but the tone of my problems has changed. The stomach issues are gone. I have had intermittent 'pangs' during this week, but for the most part they've been maneagable and short in duration, only lasting a few hours before dissipating. Headaches come and go, neck/shoulder/back tension comes & goes, but most of my physical issues show undeniable patterns of improving. I do, however, still have constant tinnitus (ringing ears) and eye irritation. Both of these problems increase & decrease in severity when my other problems peak. While it's too early to tell, I'd say that days 12-14 were the absolute worst for me. However, I did ween down for a month before this (during which time I had withdrawals 24/7). If I had quit cold turkey from the start I doubt I'd be feeling as good as I am now at this point.

Not that I don't have problems. As the physical problems decrease emotional problems have come to the forefront. I can jump from depression to anxiety in a heartbeat - no rhyme or reason to it. Every morning I wake with anxiety and racing thoughts. For the first time this quit, I had a few moments of intense fear - fearful I had ruined my life, fearful I would never recover, fearful the anxiety was here to stay. Sometimes I'm irritable, sometimes I'm calm, and I can go from one to the other at the drop of a hat. Some times I'm hyper-emotional, tearing up over a TV show, at other times I'm devoid of emotion. Just 'blah'. Week 3 has been an emotional rollercoaster.

Dreams remain very vivid - I'm dreaming all night - but they're starting to lose the dark, evil feeling they started out with. They're starting to become more like 'normal dreams'... the ones I remember before smoking too over my life (when I didn't dream at all).

Focus and inspiration come and go. Sometimes I'm positive about my future, other times depressed. I'm in the middle of a career change, and I bounce back & forth between being confident about my new direction, and feeling I"m making the wrong choice. I've learned to just avoid putting much weight on my feelings during the doubtful times. My ability to focus & concentrate likewise bounces back and forth. Some days - or portions of days - I'm worthless in the thinking department. Other times I'm competent.

I've had two days this week where I felt good, productive, focused, and relatively anxiety-free for the majority of the day. Compared to last week (which was misery), this is progres!!!!! But even on those days eventually a wave of anxiety or depression or mild pangs would arise. But I know I'm getting better. I keep a daily log / diary which helps immensely in realizing that I am improving, albeit at a slow rate.
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Postby lynne66 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:34 am

Good for you. Changes in brain chemistry - especially when something is withdrawn can cause all kinds of symptoms as the brain is the control center for just about everything. I felt pretty good I think right after I quit - once the two weeks of the acute withdrawal were over with. I had a little pink cloud of a honey moon I think. Then the PAWS stuff started to hit or become more obvious. I was also pretty stressed out and emotional. All this stuff still comes and goes. It's interesting. Keep going! You are doing great!
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Postby Chango » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:32 pm

Well I pretty much have felt those withdrawal symptoms except getting ill or fever blisters buddy. I used to get fever blisters often, but when I smoked weed and had an empty stomach. A récipe for that!!!

I guess were all different, cause my eyes look normal after a day of not smoking, never a blíster without weed,

This time withdrawal hasnt been so physical, but more a feeling of that something is missing, as if nothing can satisfy that "hole" inside. I am smoking cigarettes to calm me down at night. Oddly have been sleeping a lot, I cant go past 10pm without falling asleep,, like It was when I was a child, As if Im returning to my natural self.

The dreams, yes that´s disturbing. I get recurring dreams too everyday and not nice, to the point of being scared of going back to sleep, but at times have been pleasant. And it´s amazing, every day I dream and remember them well. No matter the nightmares, dreaming was something I was looking for and write them down, try to understand what the subconscious is trying to say, at least is like having a movie of crazyness every day. Try see it in a positive side, but when the planes come crashing down it´s not cool.

Well read your story and I can relate, good you feelin betta.
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Postby lynne66 » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:15 am

For me, the intense, vivid dreams took a few months to start toning down. Now I wake up and barely remember most of them - like the good old days!
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Postby johnrlivingston » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:10 pm

Lynne, Chango... thanks so much. I was going to wait to reply until I hit the next week mark but did'nt want you to think I was ignoring you. Both of your stories have inspired me. I can't even imagine what you've gone through, Lynne, having to worry about antidepressants as well. And Chango - I feel ya. Every time I've quit or reduced usage in the past some things have been the same, but other things different. It's like you roll the symptom-dice every time. Nutty.

Be back in 2-3 days for my 4-week report :)
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Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:07 pm

Well... I've made it 4 weeks!!!!! 8 if you count the time I spent weening down.

This past week has seen alot of changes. The rollercoaster of physical and emotional symptoms seems to be leveling off to a more predictable pattern, and while many of the initial problems i faced have faded or disappeared completely, anxiety seems to be rising to the forefront.

With the exception of the last 2 days, every day this week has been basically the same: I wake in the early AM after getting 5-6 hours sleep, remembering dreams that remain vivid, but are no longer 'dark'. Anxiety starts building immediately, making going back so sleep impossible. My ears ring, I have alot of head/facial pressure, racing thoughts, alot of muscle tension, alot of random muscle spasms, and my eyes are red, dry, and sore. Every morning I meditate in bed, but trying to calm down the racing thoughts is incredibly difficult. Still - I do it every morning - and believe the effort will eventually pay off in helping to heal this anxiety - something I never had before these problems w/ weed started.

My anxiety remains during the day, but is decreases around 8-9 AM to mild levels. I'm working then - my work requires focus - so perhaps that's the reason? Then around 6-7 PM, it starts rising again, peaking around 8-9, and then decreasing to the time I go to bed. BTW - when I say anxiety, I'm not saying 'worry'. Worry has nothing to do with it. I'm not really worried about much - mood is fairly optimistic to be honest - it's more feeling like you've just barely missed being hit by a truck - all the time. That uncomfortable adrenaline rush - only sustained and without the exhilaration of having lived through something.

I've been very productive most days - but have felt numb most times. With the exception of yesterday - when it seemed my emotions started to return (GREAT feeling) I've been joyless. Not sad, but not happy either. Just going through the motions.

On the plus side, I'm no longer having any problems with: stomach pain/problems, night sweats, or 'pangs'. The headaches I do have are obviously anxiety-related and mild. Dreams remain vivid but are no longer dark... I'm actually starting to enjoy them again from time to time. My mood swings are toning way down, and at least twice this week I've started to remember what it felt like to enjoy the activities in life that used to give me pleasure.

TL;DR: I still feel like crap, but am experiening unmistakable signs of progress!!!!!!
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Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:50 pm

5 Weeks!

This week has been similar to the last in terms of symptoms. Anxiety once again is the foremost problem I'm facing, along with all of the associated physical symptoms listed above. I had one instance of 'pangs', but it was extremely brief... hardly worth mentioning. My sleep has remained the same - 5 to 6 hours total usually with a break in the middle of the night - most times with vivid dreams. And I always wake with anxiety and muscle tension / back pain, sometimes so bad it feels like I got hit by a truck the day before. I do, however, believe my anxiety to be reducing in intensity, and while it's hard to tell, I'm fairly certain that the occassional breaks i'm getting from it - where it fades so much as to blend into the background - are becoming more frequent.

Unlike last week, however, my mood has seen many ups & downs. Where last week I was pretty much just numb most days - like an automaton, just doing my work but getting no pleasure from it - this week I've had at least 2 days where a significant portion of them was spent feeling really good about my future, remembering the joy I felt in the activities I used to love, truly enjoying the experience of exploring nature on my walks, etc. More than once I came to tears, overwhelmed by emotion, which felt SO good. So good to be actually feeling something again.

The down side to this is that i've also had some depressive moments return, times when I doubt everything I'm doing, times when I fear this isn't withdrawal and I am, in fact, just losing my mind. Sometimes I wake from dark dreams with a vague fear, no focus to is, just a feeling of fear without a source.

All in all, I feel I continue to make progress. Slow progress (2 steps forward, one step back), but progress none-the-less.
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Postby fiveweeks » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:51 pm

Hey @john

First, congratulations for your 5 weeks from your friend @fiveweeks =D!

I read your story and I identified a lot with mine, I believe it is because of the time, you're in the fifth week and I'm in the seventh week, we are close.

I have noticed a big improvement from when I started, I noticed a large decrease in symptoms of all the weeks that have passed for this current week, but now the hardest is perceive the psychological improvements, because I still feel sad, helpless without hope and desire to do things that once gave me pleasure, like: traveling, fishing, cycling etc. .. Anyway I have dragged myself to the gym, dragged me to play football and practice running. During this process I have realized that the TIME is our biggest enemy, sometimes undermining our hopes that this really will pass and we'll feel normal again.

I feel strange manytimes, because it seems that I can not realize the real benefits of having quit smoking so far as I see some people have reported, although I firmly believe it was the best choice I made. I believe the only ones and most important developments were to have my faith in God back, and also a big improvement in my relationship with my mother, this has helped me a lot to continue.

Today I've been with my girlfriend for lunch, and then we take a break until the time we leave from my house. During this time we started talking and I started crying because of this whole situation that I am facing, and she also helped me with the words, made ​​me realize something I was not seeing and that combined with his phrase "two steps forward and one back". "Improving this factor I am facing is 1% per day, we did not realize daily, but weekly is possible to observe a great improvement while walking towards the victory.

Anyway, I do not know why I said all of this, but often this forum gives me hope and I needed to vent.

Sorry for my bad english.

God is with us!

Thank you!
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Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:08 pm


I couldn't agree more - and that applies to everything you wrote. Every time you post I just sit here nodding my head in agreement. We're definitely 'on the same page', so to speak, and I empathize with and understand your struggles fully. Mine are the same.

We'll make it, I have no doubt. Even if it is a 1% improvement, or .05%, or .005... eventually we'll get there. The only other option is further decline. We can't go back ;) So while it is excruciating fighting our enemy TIME - as you so very well put it - it remains the only viable alternative.

I keep a daiy 'quit' diary. Reading back demonstrates that while each day is a crap shoot regarding how I'll feel, the positive slope of improvement is undeniable.

Thank you right back!
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Postby pot_vallet » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:54 pm

Congrats, Jhon.
Really inspirational story. about marijuana.
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Postby Furtive » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:26 am

Hi John,

Best wishes for the quit.
The month ahead may be harder in some ways
but at least the physical symptoms should ease off,
and then the sun should come out again :)

How long did you quit for that first time?
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