Recent Blog Articles

Staying Healthy

If cannabis becomes a problem: How to manage withdrawal

May 26, 2020

About the Author

photo of Peter Grinspoon, MD

Peter Grinspoon, MD, Contributor

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is a primary care physician, educator, and cannabis specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital; an instructor at Harvard Medical School; and a certified health and wellness coach. He is the author of the forthcoming book Seeing … See Full Bio
View all posts by Peter Grinspoon, MD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


Sara Frost
June 1, 2020

In my experience, I’ve always seen it as more a mental addiction than a physical one. Are there any supplements that can help with chemical balance in the brain to get off?

Peter Grinspoon, MD
June 1, 2020

As for supplements, some have tried n-acetyl-cysteine and others have tried CBD — there isn’t great evidence for the effectiveness of either at this point.

May 27, 2020

The trouble with defining addiction in relation to negative consequences is that much of the harm from cannabis use is a result of prohibition.

Cannabis users can face inflated costs, unreliable quality, intermittent supply, constant fear of prosecution, societal shaming/stigma, loss of job opportunities, imprisonment, fines, trauma and PTSD, and ALL of these stem from our history of prohibition.

Once I started looking at my own cannabis use as therapeutic, got my medical card, and was able to afford it, a huge portion of my “negative consequences associated with cannabis use” vanished. Now I walk past the cops with my bag as I leave the dispensary, I know the strain I’m getting, and I’m not scraping resin because I’m not paying near what I used to.

I think this is an excellent read, and I am a believer in withdrawal symptoms. I’ve experienced them myself. But I don’t take that info any more and get all self-critical about my use because of it, and here’s really why:

I’d never say to someone who was using another drug to treat a chronic health problem, “Oh, you take that medicine every day? Don’t you ever give it a rest? You lousy addict!”

I just wish when I was 15 I was vaping medical flower instead of smoking reggie out of blunt wraps. That’s what “safety” the DEA’s great drug war bought me. Our tax dollars at work.

Billy Bob
June 6, 2020

Thanks to all for the great info. I personally have used cannabis daily for 15years now. I would like to stop or at least cut back. I also am a former addict to opiates. When I was in withdraws in the past before I was seeking professional assistance I would use pot as much as I could to settle things down and help with nausea. I am now for the first time in my life having trouble from to much use. I am having regular spells of narcolepsy, significant weight gain, severe breathing trouble requiring self medicating with albuterol inhaler and nebulizer and issues even with acute ED during sex with my partner of 15yrs. This is out of hand and really would like some guidance cause my efforts to stop have been useless even to cut back. I don’t want to obviously focus so heavy on this issue that I blow the recovery from opiates but I can’t continue to act like my excessive use of thc is not causing me issues.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Medical Marijuana: Facts about cannabis, THC, and CBD

Exploring medical cannabis means becoming a highly educated consumer. You need to learn as much as you can from a variety of sources. This guide is intended to help you make a more-informed decision. This guide can’t tell you whether medical cannabis will alleviate your health conditions or symptoms. But it will provide basic information to help you consider whether medical cannabis is right for you, ideally working openly with your physician and other health care providers.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.