When it comes to substance use, cannabis is often seen as a less harmful option than other drugs. While using cannabis may not have the same set of consequences that fentanyl, methamphetamine, or alcohol use do, the truth of the matter is that weed is still an addictive substance with a wide range of mental health consequences.

Quitting weed can provide a number of mental health benefits you may not expect. To understand how quitting weed can help you achieve greater overall mental health, it’s first important to consider what the effects of cannabis use are and how they may be affecting your life.

How Weed Can Affect Mental Health

Cannabis is a complex psychoactive compound that can have a wide range of effects on your mental health. The specific mental health challenges people face with cannabis use depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Frequency of cannabis use
  • Dose of cannabis used
  • Length of cannabis use
  • Underlying mental health conditions

While research is still ongoing, the National Academies of Sciences has published a sweeping review of the potential mental health consequences of cannabis use. Some reliably reported effects of cannabis use can negatively affect mental health.

Cannabis Use Can Contribute to the Development of Bipolar Disorder

Research has shown that there is a small effect on cannabis increasing the likelihood that a person develops bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by large shifts in mood, where people can experience long bouts of depression followed by shorter periods of extremely elevated mood. These two states are referred to as depressive episodes and manic or hypomanic episodes.

Depressive episodes closely parallel the symptoms of major depressive disorder, which can last months, whereas manic or hypomanic episodes last at least seven days and are often associated with impulsive decision-making, flights of thought, and bursts of energy.

For people who have bipolar disorder, cannabis use can often amplify these negative symptoms, particularly during manic episodes.

Cannabis Use Linked to Developing Anxiety

Similarly, cannabis use can heighten your risk of developing an anxiety disorder. The strongest connection is between heavy cannabis use and developing a social anxiety disorder, where people experience a heightened fear of being judged or watched by others.

Cannabis use has also been linked to heightened daily anxiety in general, even without leading to a specific diagnosis. If you’ve found a sudden increase in anxious feelings throughout the day, cannabis use may be contributing to your mental health symptoms, even if you’re unaware of it.

Cannabis Use Can Worsen Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition that can have a wide range of mental health consequences. While it’s common for people with PTSD to use cannabis, research has shown that cannabis use can increase the severity of your symptoms and make it more difficult to achieve recovery.

The science suggests that people using cannabis with a pre-existing PTSD diagnosis may be attempting to self-medicate the symptoms of PTSD. Yet, with symptoms worsening rather than getting better, this seems to be a counterproductive approach to finding mental health relief.

Cannabis Use Disorder

If cannabis use is starting to cause problems in other areas of life, and you continue using cannabis despite these consequences, it might be a sign that you’ve developed a cannabis use disorder. Like other substance use disorders, a cannabis use disorder has a wide range of mental health consequences, including:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities outside of cannabis use
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Frequent cravings for cannabis
  • Worsening mental health symptoms due to cannabis use
  • Giving up important responsibilities due to cannabis use

Cannabis use disorder can be incredibly difficult to break free from on your own. Thankfully, there are several evidence-based treatment options for helping people overcome a cannabis addiction and regain a higher quality of mental health.

The Mental Health Benefits of Quitting Weed

Quitting weed has a number of mental health benefits that extend beyond simply reducing the risk of the harmful consequences outlined above. There are several common mental health benefits of quitting weed.

Improved Motivation

If you’re a regular cannabis user, you’re likely already aware of the effects cannabis use can have on motivation. It can lead to people feeling drowsy or lethargic and impair your ability to motivate yourself for more productive or creative tasks.

Quitting weed can help you restore this motivation and focus on the tasks that matter the most to you. This increased focus and motivation could mean seeking self-improvement, growing your job skills, furthering your education, or spending more time with your friends and family.

People who quit cannabis use often report feeling like they have more energy and drive to accomplish these tasks, and neuroscientific investigations support these findings.

Like many other addictive drugs, cannabis can change the way dopamine functions within your brain. Dopamine is your brain’s primary reward neurotransmitter and has been strongly associated with motivation.

When people use cannabis frequently, it can lead to the high from cannabis becoming one of the only rewarding aspects of their lives, and other activities no longer feel worthwhile.

Quitting weed helps restore your brain’s dopamine system to normal levels, which can help you find enjoyment and pleasure in activities outside of substance use. This effect not only increases productivity but helps you fully experience the benefits of living a clean and sober life.

Better Sleep

Several investigations have found that frequent cannabis use can severely disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle. Specifically, cannabis use has been shown to disrupt your body’s ability to enter the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle, which is critical for memory consolidation and emotional processing.

Quitting weed helps restore this essential piece of your body’s natural sleep rhythms, as well as helping people to sleep longer, fall asleep faster, and not be reliant on substances in order to fall asleep.

It’s important to note that quitting weed will often result in withdrawal symptoms — one of which is worsened sleep quality. But this symptom is only a temporary effect. If you maintain your abstinence from cannabis usage, your sleep will return to a healthier and more stable state compared to while you were using cannabis.

Enhancing Cognitive Function

Quitting weed can help with a number of cognitive functions and abilities. The most common improvements people see after quitting weed include:

  • Improved memory
  • Having an easier time paying attention or staying focused
  • Reducing mental fog
  • More creative problem-solving

When you use cannabis regularly, it’s often difficult to see how your use is impacting your daily cognitive functioning levels. Quitting weed can help restore the clarity of mind and focus you may have lost sight of, which can, in turn, help you with a number of different productive and creative tasks.

Lower Anxiety

Since increased anxiety and a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder have both been linked to cannabis use, experiencing less anxiety is a natural result of quitting weed. This reduction in anxiety can have a number of downstream effects on your mental health as well.

Experiencing frequent anxiety adds to your overall level of psychological distress. When people become accustomed to high levels of anxiety and distress, they may face challenges with regulating their mood, keeping up with daily responsibilities, or having enough restorative time to mitigate the stress they experience.

When you lower your overall anxiety by quitting weed, you may find that your life starts to feel less stressful as a whole, and you’re better able to face the challenges of day-to-day life.

Better Social Interactions

Socialization is a critical component of overall mental health, and quitting weed can help you build stronger connections with others. For people who typically use cannabis alone, frequent cannabis use can lead to isolation, social withdrawal, or a loss of interest in maintaining healthy friendships.

Quitting weed is one way to help restore your social habits to what they were before you initiated cannabis use. When your brain starts to recover from the dopaminergic changes caused by frequent cannabis use, you may find that you are more motivated to reach out to friends, meet new people, or spend more time at social events.

On the other hand, many people use cannabis as a tool for socialization itself. However, people often find that using cannabis socially doesn’t result in the deep, meaningful relationships they crave. Friendships may begin to revolve around cannabis use rather than on truly meaningful interactions.

Reducing Dependence

Finally, quitting weed can simply help reduce your dependence upon a drug to serve a specific purpose. This last benefit affects people who have developed a cannabis use disorder and have difficulty stopping cannabis use on their own despite mounting consequences.

People typically use cannabis for one of three reasons:

  1. To feel good
  2. To feel better
  3. Because other people are using it

While cannabis use may start with the simplest of intentions, people who go on to develop a cannabis use disorder may find their cannabis use has become their only method of feeling good, feeling better, or socializing with others.

But though this may become the case, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Quitting weed can help reduce your dependence on substances to feel good and show you new ways of enjoying life to its fullest.

How to Quit Weed

For many people, quitting weed isn’t as easy as just saying no. Cannabis use can quickly become an addiction that is incredibly hard to break free from on your own, and many people will need the help of professional addiction treatment services in order to recover.

Thankfully, there is an abundance of options for finding effective addiction treatment. The most common pathway people take to recovery is enrolling in in-person or virtual therapy, which can connect you to a therapist with an abundance of tools to help you develop new coping mechanisms and strategies to resist cannabis use.

Those with more intensive needs may consider enrolling in an intensive outpatient program, which provides a higher intensity of therapy and therapeutic services and can connect people to strong social support systems to improve their success in recovery.

Finally, people with underlying mental health disorders that may be contributing to their cannabis use can benefit from mental health interventions such as medication management, ketamine-assisted therapy, or deep transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Start Treatment at Plus by APN

Plus by APN provides comprehensive mental health services to clients with a wide range of mental health challenges, including breaking free from cannabis use disorder. Our team uses conventional and innovative approaches to help you overcome your symptoms and achieve a more stable sense of mental health.

To get started with treatment, call our team at 424.644.6486 or fill out our confidential online form.


  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 12, Mental Health. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425748/
  • Winiger, Evan A et al. “Cannabis use and sleep: Expectations, outcomes, and the role of age.” Addictive behaviors vol. 112 (2021): 106642. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106642