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Treatment of withdrawal symptoms key to treating pot addiction, says study

Treatment of withdrawal symptoms key to treating pot addiction, says study

People who use marijuana for a long period experience withdrawal symptoms that can contribute to continued use of the drug. The longer a person uses pot, the more likely he or she is to undergo withdrawal symptoms when trying to get rid of it. Depending on body chemistry, degree of abuse and other factors, these symptoms can include being irritable, feeling anxious or worried, feeling depressed, having low appetite and feeling tired all the time.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms

A 2016 study by the University of Illinois suggested that symptoms associated with marijuana abuse can be so troubling that they can lead to continued use of the drug and relapse in people trying to quit. According to the study, the severity of cannabis withdrawal is not the same for everybody. It found that 85 percent people who underwent cannabis withdrawal during their intake assessment consumed cannabis again within about 16 days, while the remaining participants abstained from it for nearly 24 days before using it again.

As part of the study, lead author Jordan P. Davis, a doctoral student in the School of Social Work, and his co-workers enrolled 110 young adults who were habitual pot users and used cannabis about 70 of the 90 days, on an average, before starting the drug treatment program.

Cannabis withdrawal included symptoms such as mood disturbances (48 percent), difficulty sleeping (40 percent) and restlessness (33 percent), with the biggest impairment to daily life being seen among pot addicts.

Most studies suggest that withdrawal symptoms start from day one of abstinence and a patient must experience at least three symptoms to be diagnosed with cannabis withdrawal. A majority of people need professional help to manage their cannabis withdrawal, and experts believe that the chance of successfully quitting cannabis significantly goes up by reducing the waiting time between users’ initial assessment and the start of treatment.

According to experts, methods of immediate treatment must be designed to reduce the resistance an abuser may have while abstaining from the drug. This could help prolong the time during which these patients stay away from marijuana.

Co-author of the study Douglas C. Smith said, “Marijuana is tricky because it stays in your body so long. Highly addictive substances such as heroin have short half-lives and leave the body quickly, whereas marijuana is stored in the fat cells and can be excreted in a person’s urine for up to a month – or even longer if you’re a heavy user.”

Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal

It has been observed that the withdrawals for some people are more severe than for others. Chronic cannabis users experience aggression, mental illness and depression, which cause a person significant distress and/or interference with day-to-day activities. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms observed in adult pot smokers include:

  • Being irritable and having trouble sleeping at night
  • Mood swings/irritability
  • Feeling depressed and nervous
  • Cravings to use marijuana again
  • Reduced appetite and frequent digestion problems

In fact, a person who uses the drug just a couple of times a week may not experience any withdrawal, but in susceptible users, such as those with chronic mental illness or a genetic predisposition to addiction, the probability of getting addicted and experiencing withdrawal is more.

Making help available

To get rid of addiction and avoid any relapse, it is important to detoxify the body. Counseling, therapy groups and medications can be of great help in dealing with withdrawal symptoms. If left untreated, severe addiction can cause other severe health issues and even death.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any form of addiction, please seek medical help immediately. The Texas Substance Abuse Helpline can help you get rid of addiction by finding the most effective treatment programs. Chat online or call at 24/7 helpline number 866-971-2658 for assistance.