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Withdrawal

Abstinence from Heavy Marijuana Use Can Result in Withdrawal

By December 26, 2019July 27th, 2021No Comments

Before the 1990s, many doubted that cessation of cannabis could lead to similar symptoms of withdrawal seen in other illicit drugs. However, as marijuana use began to rise over the next two decades, more patients began to seek treatment for marijuana-related disorders, including cognitive deficits, psychosis, and dependence.

Researchers began to see that discontinuation of regular cannabis use was frequently associated with behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms that disrupted daily living and were associated with relapse. Based on support from neurobiological, clinical, and epidemiological studies, cannabis withdrawal syndrome (CWS) was added to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) in its 2013.

Cessation from heavy or prolonged cannabis use result in mood and behavioral symptoms which may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Depressed mood
  • Agitation

Individuals undergoing withdrawal may also experience physical symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

In a study of 1,527 cannabis users1, the most common side effects experienced post-cessation were:

  • Nervousness/anxiety (76.3%)
  • Hostility (71.9%)
  • Sleep difficulty (68.2%)
  • Depressed mood (58.9%)

Cannabis withdrawal syndrome is diagnosed when within a week after cessation of heavy, prolonged use an individual has three or more symptoms of withdrawal. Generally, symptoms of withdrawal begin within the first 24 hours of abstinence, peak by day three and can last for up to two to three weeks2.

Weedless.org is a free, web-based resource and community created by a team of healthcare professionals and researchers. We distill the facts about marijuana use and its effects into practical guidance for interested persons or for those who are thinking about or struggling to quit weed. Finding reliable, easy to understand information about marijuana should never be a struggle—that is why our core mission is to provide the most up to date information about marijuana use, abuse, addiction, and withdrawal. While we seek to empower individuals to have control over their use, we are not "anti-weed" and we support efforts to legalize adult marijuana use and study.

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