For the past 20 years I've always followed a month on/month off approach.
I smoke daily for a month (an ounce a week), then I take a month off *completely* to recover physically, mentally and attend to things that I might have neglected while I was stoned everyday!
Every single time when I stop smoking, I experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms; insomnia, sweating/night sweats, vivid dreams/nightmares, loss of appetite, irritability, anger, depression/crying/suicidal ideation.
Usually, these symptoms last around a week for me and then I feel back to normal. The severity of the symptoms seems to vary, but for whatever reason the duration seems to be about the same.
It definitely sucks, but it's a reality of life, just like getting a hangover when you've had too much to drink. I find it hard to believe anyone who can say they experience no withdrawal symptoms at all - I'm a living testament to the fact that the withdrawal is very real and I've been through it so many times it's like clockwork, and I know plenty of other people who have experience the same.
So here's my tips for dealing with the withdrawal symptoms:
- Speak to your doctor and get some Valium. This is kinda a dangerous one because this drug is definitely addictive, so I usually get my doctor to prescribe me only 5 tablets (yep exactly 5). I take them for the first 5 nights after quitting and that helps deal with the sleep issues including the night sweats - and having a good night's sleep tends to also stabilize your mood during the day.
- Drink LOTS of water all day. It's the only reliable way to flush out your system.
- Eat low fat/healthy options. I find that it's the foods high in fat (that you'd probably eat in abundance while stoned) like pizza, burgers, candy etc that makes me feel really sick during the withdrawal period. I find lots of fresh fruits, nuts, dry crackers, soup etc. goes down a lot better until my appetite returns.
- Surround yourself with (non cannabis using) friends/family and do stuff you enjoy and stay busy. I find the emotional/mental symptoms get much worse when I dwell on it. If you find yourself in that place, get up and do something; go for a walk, watch a movie, call a friend, DISTRACT YOURSELF!
Smoking pot is NOT a way to cope with all this shit and feel normal again, even though your brain keeps trying to convince you otherwise. I never start smoking pot again unless I feel 100% normal and have my life totally and utterly under control.
The good news is that the withdrawal symptoms will ease, and I actually find it exciting to return to reality and "feel" things again. But I like life both ways: i enjoy the month I'm stoned, and I enjoy the month I'm not.