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Why Do I Have Nightmares While Detoxing from Marijuana?

Aside from alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly abused substance in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 52.5 million people reported using marijuana in 2021.[1]

Marijuana is legal for recreational and medical use in some states, but it remains federally illegal. Since marijuana abuse is normalized in many parts of the country, people believe it is safe and harmless. While occasional cannabis use might not cause any issues, some people have a hard time controlling how much they consume.

When you are abusing marijuana daily, you might struggle with a cannabis use disorder. Once you are addicted to marijuana, suddenly stopping the use of it will result in withdrawal symptoms. While marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as opioid or alcohol withdrawal, it can cause effects that are difficult to cope with such as intense nightmares.

If you are wondering why you have nightmares while detoxing from marijuana, the answer is because of the way cannabis withdrawal affects your serotonin and dopamine. Since you have fewer of these chemicals in your brain, you are more likely to have alarming nightmares when you go to sleep.

What are the Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal?

While many people believe that you cannot get addicted to marijuana, studies have proven otherwise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “One study estimated that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.”[2]

When you have a cannabis use disorder, suddenly stopping the use of marijuana will cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms. The common symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include:[3]

  • Irritability and anger
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating and chills
  • Disturbing dreams

Typically, the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal begin 24 to 48 hours after your last dose. These symptoms could continue to affect you for up to 3 weeks or more among heavy cannabis users. Since the symptoms can last so long, you should always seek help from a medical detox center that can offer you medications to soothe the side effects you experience.

Why Does Marijuana Withdrawal Cause Nightmares?

There are a few factors that contribute to nightmares during marijuana withdrawal.

First, dreams occur during the end of your REM cycle. When you are consistently smoking marijuana, you might not fully enter the REM cycle during sleep. Once you stop abusing cannabis, you will experience the REM cycle, causing you to experience dreams again.

Next, when you are addicted to marijuana it is causing your brain to release large amounts of dopamine and serotonin at once. Once you stop using it, your brain must adjust to smaller amounts of these chemicals. As a result, you might deal with feelings of depression, anxiety, and nightmares.

When you combine experiencing REM during sleep for the first time in a while with a lower concentration of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, it’s easy to see why you experience vivid and unpleasant dreams during marijuana withdrawal.

Can Medical Detox Prevent Nightmares During Marijuana Withdrawal?

During medical detox for marijuana withdrawal, you will be given medications that target the specific symptoms you are experiencing. For example, if you are having a hard time with appetite, depression or anxiety, and insomnia, you might be given an antidepressant that increases appetite and promotes better sleep.

While there are not any medications that specifically target nightmares, simply taking something that reduces your other withdrawal symptoms could make you less likely to deal with intense nightmares. Additionally, some sleep medications will have you sleeping so soundly that you do not remember your dreams when you awake.

With that being said, your nightmares may go away upon receiving treatment for marijuana withdrawal.

Signs You Need Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

If you or a loved one abuses marijuana regularly, you might be wondering how to tell if you require professional treatment. Frequently, it can be difficult to identify addiction in yourself, as it is harder to take an objective look at your own behaviors.

Signs that you need treatment for marijuana addiction include:

  • Being high on marijuana more often than not
  • Wanting to quit cannabis use but being unsuccessful
  • Using marijuana during risky situations such as while driving
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to abuse cannabis
  • Only making friends with others who smoke marijuana
  • Needing more marijuana to experience the desired effect
  • Isolating from friends and family members
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Neglecting your responsibilities while you are smoking weed
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you cannot use marijuana

Finding Help for Marijuana Withdrawal and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from marijuana addiction, you might require medical detox services. While cannabis withdrawal is not life-threatening, it can be difficult to cope with. That is why rehab programs like Mandala Healing Center offer clinically proven treatments to soothe the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. With compassionate staff and a safe, supervised setting, our drug and alcohol detox program can help you start your recovery the right way.

To learn more about our marijuana detox center, contact us today.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cannabis (marijuana) use in the United States, Retrieved December 2023 From
  2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder), Retrieved December 2023 From
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Clinical management of cannabis withdrawal, Retrieved December 2023 From