One thing is certain despite the ongoing controversy over whether marijuana is an addictive substance: Some devoted and long-term users experience withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly stop using it.
In reality, cannabis withdrawal syndrome has diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) A 2020 meta-analysis of research revealed that 47% of those who regularly used cannabis or who felt reliant on it suffered cannabis withdrawal syndrome when they stopped using the drug. This suggests that it may be more widespread than you might assume.
What Is Marijuana Withdrawal?
When a long-term, frequent marijuana user abruptly stops using cannabis, unpleasant psychological and physical symptoms may appear. According to Michael Weaver, M.D., a psychiatry professor and the medical director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, “the more you use, the higher your tolerance becomes and the more severe your withdrawal symptoms [can be].” The consequences can be extremely unpleasant even though they are typically transient.
According to Jordan Tishler, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, president of the Association of Marijuana Specialists, and CEO/CMO of inhaled, a clinical practice run by cannabinoid specialist doctors, “the [body’s] endocannabinoid system has receptors on cells like satellite dishes.” Problematic symptoms may appear when the body is overloaded with cannabis [and then the person abruptly quits using it], according to him. He continues, “to tone down the volume by restricting intake or lowering the dose gradually” is the best strategy to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal
To meet the criteria for cannabis withdrawal syndrome, a person must exhibit at least three of the following symptoms within about a week of abrupt cannabis use cessation, according to the DSM-5:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased appetite or weight loss
- Depressed mood
- Physical symptoms, such as abdominal pain, shakiness or tremors, sweating, fever, chills or headache
Individual differences in personality features, past marijuana use, the presence of other psychiatric or physical health disorders, stress levels in their lives, and other factors may have an impact on the severity and duration of these symptoms. While feeling mellow, relaxed, or having the “munchies” are some of the common effects of marijuana use, withdrawal symptoms from cannabis typically fall on the other end of the spectrum.
Instead of feeling calm and collected, the individual often feels agitated or restless; in place of seeking sugary or fatty meals, the individual may have appetite loss; and in place of feeling tired, the individual may encounter rebound sleeplessness. According to Patrick Fehling, M.D., an addiction psychiatrist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, “it’s truly about neuroadaptation.” “The sensation of withdrawal is the complete opposite of the experience of substance use.”
Who Has the Highest Chance of Going Through Marijuana Withdrawal?
Both recreational and medical cannabis users may experience withdrawal symptoms from marijuana. According to Dr. Tishler, heavy, long-term users are most at risk. It is highly dose-dependent.
There might also be some gender variances. Researchers discovered that women seeking treatment for cannabis use disorders experienced higher and more severe withdrawal symptoms than men in a 2015 study published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Women scored higher on tests of restlessness, increased hostility, irrationality, and violent outbursts, as well as gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea and stomach pain.
Can Cbd Prevent Withdrawal from Marijuana?
On whether CBD can aid with marijuana withdrawal, the jury is still out. Cannabidiol (CBD) is less psychoactive than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gives marijuana its desired effects as well as its withdrawal symptoms, according to some experts, including Dr. Tishler and Dr.
Weaver. As a result, they argue, CBD is unlikely to help with cannabis withdrawal symptoms. However, a 2018 analysis of 10 studies found that cannabinoids like CBD may be useful in treating the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. They may also “reduce the rate of relapse in the treatment of cannabis dependence due to withdrawal symptoms,” according to research.
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