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Marijuana Withdrawal

Rolling marijuana jointMany people who support marijuana use argue that marijuana has only positive effects, especially when used to manage pain or other chronic conditions. However, research has shown that marijuana has the potential to not only negatively affect people who use the drug regularly but that it can also impact those who quit using it suddenly.

Going through marijuana withdrawal isn’t easy. Withdrawal affects each person differently. Heavy or long-term users who quit typically experience more severe side effects than those who didn’t use the drug as heavily or for as long of a period of time.

Marijuana Use in Numbers

In a study done on nearly 500 marijuana users who attempted to quit using the drug, about 30% relapsed because the withdrawal symptoms were too much to handle. This result provides some evidence that marijuana addiction is a legitimate problem. In fact, the presence of marijuana withdrawal is one of the diagnostic criteria for cannabis use disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Of the 469 marijuana users studied, 25% were considered heavy users, claiming to have smoked marijuana more than 10,000 times. Of those heavy users, more than 42% had experienced at least one withdrawal symptom when they tried to quit. The most commonly reported symptoms of marijuana withdrawal were boredom, anxiety, irritability, increased cravings, and sleeping problems. More than 78% of this heavy-use group started smoking marijuana again in order to alleviate the symptoms.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States with over 9% of Americans engaging in use. Approximately 3.4% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years old suffer from marijuana dependence as do about 7.5% of 18-to 29-year-olds. A dependence on marijuana may resemble that of other addictive substances, although it may present more mildly and with relatively less pronounced or immediate consequences as some other abused drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

The average length of daily use for people who seek marijuana addiction treatment is about 10 years, while the average number of times reported for attempts to quit is over six. Individuals who use marijuana report that withdrawal symptoms contribute to the difficulty of quitting.

About one-third of regular marijuana users have reported withdrawal symptoms, while 50% to 95% of those in treatment have experienced withdrawal symptoms. Three factors that seem to influence the severity of marijuana withdrawal include the quantity of use, the frequency of use, and the presence of co-morbid mental health issues.

Sides Effects of Marijuana

Although marijuana has several reportedly beneficial medicinal purposes, it’s a Schedule I drug on the federal level and it can negatively affect the lives of those who abuse it. A common misconception among people who support legal cannabis use is that marijuana is completely safe and has no addictive properties. But marijuana use can cause a range of harmful effects, including:

  • Memory loss.
  • Trouble with concentration and problem-solving.
  • Anxiety.
  • Distorted perception.
  • Learning problems.

Marijuana use can become problematic over time and lead to dependence. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognizes cannabis use disorder as well as cannabis withdrawal syndrome. Research suggests that approximately 30% of people who use marijuana meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder or marijuana dependence. People who begin abusing the substance in adolescence are anywhere from four to seven times more likely to become addicted than people who begin using as adults.

Cannabis withdrawal syndrome may occur when someone who has used marijuana heavily for a prolonged period of time suddenly stops using. The symptoms typically appear within a week of cessation and include a range of unpleasant effects. Withdrawal symptoms develop as a result of physical dependence on the drug. When someone uses marijuana consistently for an extended time, the body adapts to the presence of the substance and may become desensitized to certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including its own naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid).

Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

Common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include flu-like symptoms, excessive sweating, chills, and decreased appetite. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to alleviate these withdrawal symptoms. There may be potential to develop specific treatments in the future. One study is researching the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in marijuana, as a possible medication to ease withdrawal symptoms when medically administered to help a person wean or taper off marijuana.

In the meantime, individuals attempting to quit marijuana may benefit from the supportive interventions offered by a professional detox and treatment program. In a treatment program, withdrawal symptoms can be monitored by medical staff members and the individual can be made to feel more comfortable during the withdrawal process.

The recognition of cannabis withdrawal as a diagnosable mental health condition is relatively recent. The list of criteria for marijuana withdrawal includes:
Irritated man

  • The person must have smoked marijuana on a regular basis for at least several months before quitting.
  • The person must be exhibiting at least three of the following symptoms:
    • Nervousness
    • Anger/aggression/irritability
    • Insomnia/bad dreams
    • Restlessness
    • Weight loss/decreased appetite
    • Depression
    • Significant discomfort caused by chills, sweating, shakiness, headache, or stomach pain

The above symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant effects in functioning and must not be associated with any other illness. Although they aren’t included in the official criteria for cannabis withdrawal syndrome, additional withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Problems concentrating.
  • Yawning,
  • Rebound periods of:
    • Increased appetite after loss of appetite.
    • Hypersomnia after insomnia.

Treatment for Marijuana Withdrawal

The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal typically begin within one to three days after use has stopped and might last one to two weeks. Sleep disturbances could last a month or more. The best treatment for marijuana withdrawal will include a combination of strategies. These services include:

  • Medication. Although there aren’t any current FDA-approved medications for the treatment of marijuana withdrawal, some medications, such as antidepressants, can be prescribed to treat severe mental health problems brought on or exacerbated by withdrawal. Additionally, some sleep aid medications have been studied in order to treat insomnia associated with marijuana withdrawal.
  • Psychotherapy. A few different kinds of psychotherapy have been shown to be effective in treating an addiction to marijuana.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy. This therapy is used with patients who lack a motivation to quit using marijuana. It decreases ambivalence associated with recovery and instills confidence in the individual to commit to change.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy examines the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they relate to marijuana abuse. The therapist teaches positive coping skills and self-talk strategies.
  • Contingency management. This type of treatment uses rewards as incentive to abstain from marijuana use.
  • Social support. To create an encouraging environment that promotes abstinence, you’ll want to create a strong support network of family and friends who can enhance positivity in your life and remind you of how far you’ve come.

Types of Rehab for Marijuana Addiction

Doctor supporting patientIf you’re planning to quit using marijuana, professional treatment can help. The detox and withdrawal part of the marijuana recovery process can be uncomfortable, but it can be eased with assistance from skilled medical professionals.

Let us help you find a marijuana rehab center in your area. We have access to a variety of resources so you’ll have many options to choose from. If marijuana is negatively affecting your health, social life, or career, call us today at 1-888-744-0789 and get started on the path to a clean and sober life.

If you’re addicted to marijuana and are having trouble quitting, addiction treatment programs utilize a number of treatment strategies to help you achieve and maintain sobriety while teaching you healthy coping skills to be used in trigger situations. The following are examples of possible treatment options:

  • Outpatient treatment. This option may be less appropriate for cases of severe marijuana addiction because it provides relatively less structure than other options. You’d live at home while attending treatment at a facility during a time that works with your schedule. This structure allows you to take care of your work, home, or school responsibilities while receiving treatment.
  • Traditional inpatient treatment. You’d reside at the rehabilitation center during your addiction treatment program. The length of your stay can be customized to fit your needs, but it typically lasts from 30 to 90 days. People suffering from a severe marijuana addiction find it beneficial to escape the environments and triggers of their everyday lives in order to focus on achieving and maintaining sobriety.
  • Executive treatment. Executive treatment centers are similar to traditional inpatient programs, except they offer added amenities – such as Internet access, private phones, and work rooms – allowing CEOS and other busy executive types to continue working while recovering from a marijuana addiction.
  • Luxury treatment. These inpatient rehab facilities conduct treatment in resort-like settings and are often located in desirable destinations. They offer luxurious amenities, in addition to normal treatment services. Some of these amenities may include gourmet meals, private rooms, golf, swimming, horseback riding, yoga, massage therapy, spa treatments, and acupuncture.
  • Partial hospitalization. Partial hospitalization offers a level of care between inpatient and outpatient rehab programs. The individual benefits from a structured environment throughout the day but doesn’t receive around-the-clock care and can live at home. It’s often seen as a next step for those who have completed an inpatient treatment program or a step up for those who might be struggling to make recovery progress via an outpatient approach.

Finding the Right Marijuana Rehab Center

If marijuana use has become problematic to the point that you need help, you might not know where to start when searching for recovery centers. The following are a few factors you want to look for when finding an addiction rehab center that will provide you with the best treatment:

  • Dual-diagnosis experience. Marijuana is often abused with other drugs, such as stimulants or opioids. Its use is also common in people who may also struggle with metal health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Suffering from an addiction to marijuana in addition to another substance addiction or mental health disorder is known as a dual diagnosis, and it requires specialized treatment in order to increase the individual’s chances of a full recovery.
  • Certified staff. It’s vital that the treatment team at the rehab facility is qualified to treat substance addictions and mental health disorders. When researching options, you can ask the treatment center what kinds of certifications it requires staff members to hold.
  • Individualized treatment plans. The best recovery centers will do a thorough intake evaluation in which they assess for any co-occurring mental or behavioral health issues. Once the evaluation is complete, the staff will create a treatment plan that caters to you and your personal needs.
  • Family involvement. Many recovery programs emphasize family counseling, which can aid in repairing broken relationships and improving communication between the recovering individual and family members.
  • Aftercare planning. A quality rehab facility will employ a treatment team that creates comprehensive aftercare plans for patients who complete the recovery program. Aftercare planning includes ongoing treatment that will help to prevent relapse.

Rehab placement advisors are standing by to help you find a marijuana rehab program that’s right for you and your circumstances. Whether you’re experiencing physical or mental withdrawal symptoms, there’s a program that can help you heal and move forward. Call 1-888-744-0789 today for more information.

Sources

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
  2. Budney, A., Roffman, R., Stephens, R., and Walker, D. (2007). “Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment.” Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. 1.
  3. gov. (2016). “Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders.”
  4. gov. (2016). “Is Marijuana Addictive?
  5. National Library of Medicine. (2015).”Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults Doubles Over Past Decade.
  6. Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2016).”Marijuana Myths & Facts.”