Regular smokers looking to reduce their tolerance or change their lifestyle are often curious about what happens to your body when you stop smoking weed. For social smokers that roll-up only a few times a month, nothing measurable would happen if they stopped cold-turkey tomorrow. Cannabis is not a strong enough substance for occasional users to notice any significant change when they stop. However, those who have been regular or daily smokers for a significant period of time will see some pretty noticeable changes.
Stop smoking weed and you’ll have crazy dreams.
A lot of regular users start off smoking daily because weed is such a great way to drift off to sleep. There’s even some preliminary science that suggests men fell asleep faster when they smoked some weed. But, contrary to popular belief, weed doesn’t actually make you sleep better. In fact, it makes it worse. Weed suppresses REM sleep, a part of the sleep cycle that’s the most important to feel rested in the morning.
REM sleep is also when dreams occur, and memories of the day are filed away. A few years of smoking weed, as many enthusiasts know, quickly leads to a black wall from night till morning. Once you stop, your brain rebounds and dives back into REM sleep with a vengeance.
Scientists know that REM sleep produces dreams, but the chemical process isn’t totally understood. It may be that building a tolerance to weed over the years tears down our tolerance for DMT. DMT is a chemical in the brain that is produced at it’s highest levels during REM sleep. It’s also one of the most potent hallucinogens known to man.
So, if you’re looking to take a break for any reason, and you’re struggling to fall asleep, just think about it like you’re just waiting for natures night-time drug trip.
You’ll lose your appetite when you stop smoking weed temporarily.
It doesn’t matter if you eat an expertly cooked, perfectly season steak, or Doritos, weed makes that experience tastier and more luxurious. Even better, the munchies can give us the superhuman ability to eat more food in one sitting than our sober selves would eat in a whole day.
The endocannabinoid system plays a huge role in regulating our appetite. Part of this system is in the hypothalamus, where special neurons called POMCs let the rest of the body know when it’s full, and it should stop eating. THC literally reverses that process.
Since weed takes the part of your brain that tells you to stop eating and makes it scream, “EAT IT ALL,” it’s hard to adjust once you stop. The POMC neurons revert back to regulating rather than accentuating your appetite, and that change can feel drastic. If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, pumping the brakes on weed for a while might make dieting much easier, at least in the short term.
When you stop smoking weed, you might drool when you sleep.
Weed changes a lot of processes in your body. The most significant changes are in the brain, but there are physical effects as well. When smoke binds to cannabinoid receptors on the salivary glands, they secrete less saliva. Cottonmouth is an unfortunate consequence of smoking weed, but stopping smoking has some undesirable consequences as well.
If the body overproduces REM sleep after weed deprives it, and the body overproduces appetite suppressants after weed blocks them, it should be obvious what salivary glands will do.
It is important to remember that everyone’s body is different.
While all the withdrawal symptoms listed above are likely to occur, they may not, depending on your physiology. There’s no scientific evidence that not smoking weed will affect your lung function, but tons of people online who provide anecdotal evidence that it does. Likewise, many of the negative affects people talk about when they stop smoking – anxiety, insomnia, depression – might just be normal substance withdrawal symptoms and not specific to marijuana.
In the scheme of things, when you stop smoking weed, the fallout is pretty gentle. As it turns out, cannabis is totally safe, whether you choose to smoke it or not.