I Think I’m Going Through Marijuana Withdrawal

Conquer marijuana withdrawal with effective strategies and support. Get relief from symptoms and find your path to recovery.

By
Leora BH Staff
May 2, 2024

Understanding Substance Withdrawal

When it comes to substance use, withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that individuals may experience when they stop using or significantly reduce their intake of a particular substance. In the case of marijuana, also known as cannabis, withdrawal is a well-characterized phenomenon that occurs in approximately half of regular and dependent cannabis users after abrupt cessation or significant reductions in cannabis products containing Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Definition and Prevalence

Cannabis withdrawal typically occurs within 24-48 hours after cessation, with symptoms peaking between days 2 and 6. Research has shown that about 47% of regular and dependent cannabis users report experiencing withdrawal symptoms measured by standardized scales. The prevalence of cannabis withdrawal symptoms is higher in individuals with a history of daily cannabis use and concurrent cannabis and tobacco use.

Impact on Individuals

The impact of marijuana withdrawal can vary from person to person. Common psychological symptoms associated with cannabis withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, anger or aggression, disturbed sleep/dreaming, depressed mood, and loss of appetite. These symptoms can significantly impact an individual's emotional well-being and daily functioning. It's important to note that withdrawal symptoms can differ in severity and duration depending on factors such as the frequency and duration of cannabis use, individual differences, and overall health.

In addition to psychological symptoms, some individuals may experience less common physical symptoms during cannabis withdrawal. These can include chills, headaches, physical tension, sweating, and stomach pain. While these physical symptoms are less frequently reported, they can still be distressing for those going through marijuana withdrawal.

Understanding the definition and prevalence of marijuana withdrawal is the first step in recognizing and addressing the challenges associated with it. It's important for individuals who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms to seek appropriate support and resources to help them manage this transitional period effectively.

Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

When individuals stop using marijuana after prolonged and heavy use, they may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, and it's important to understand what to expect during this process.

Onset and Duration

Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal typically begin within 24 to 48 hours after cessation of use. They tend to peak around days 2 to 6 and can last for one to two weeks. However, it's essential to note that the exact timing and duration of symptoms can vary from person to person.

Common Psychological Symptoms

The most common psychological symptoms experienced during marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety: Feelings of unease, nervousness, or restlessness.
  • Irritability: Heightened sensitivity and easily provoked frustration.
  • Anger or aggression: Increased irritability leading to angry outbursts or aggression.
  • Disturbed sleep/dreaming: Changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or having vivid dreams.
  • Depressed mood: Feeling down, sad, or experiencing a general loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Loss of appetite: Reduced desire to eat or a decrease in the enjoyment of food.

These psychological symptoms can have a significant impact on an individual's well-being. It's essential to seek support and employ strategies to manage these symptoms effectively.

Less Common Physical Symptoms

Although less common, some individuals may experience physical symptoms during marijuana withdrawal. These physical symptoms may include:

  • Chills: A sensation of coldness or shivering.
  • Headaches: Pain or discomfort in the head.
  • Physical tension: Increased muscle tension or stiffness.
  • Sweating: Excessive sweating, particularly during sleep.
  • Stomach pain: Discomfort or pain in the abdominal area.

It's important to note that these physical symptoms are less frequently reported during marijuana withdrawal but can still occur in some individuals.

Understanding the onset and duration of withdrawal symptoms, as well as the common psychological and less common physical symptoms, can help individuals anticipate and manage the challenges that may arise during marijuana withdrawal. While the symptoms can be uncomfortable, it's crucial to remember that they are temporary and will gradually subside over time.

It's recommended to consult with healthcare professionals or support services to develop an appropriate plan for managing marijuana withdrawal symptoms. While specific medications have not been proven effective for managing cannabis withdrawal, short-term symptomatic medications may be considered if necessary. Additionally, seeking support from national helplines, Canada-wide services, or indigenous-specific support can provide valuable resources and assistance during this process.

Managing Marijuana Withdrawal

For individuals experiencing marijuana withdrawal, there are various approaches to managing the symptoms and making the withdrawal process more manageable. Treatment approaches and medications can play a role in easing the discomfort associated with withdrawal.

Treatment Approaches

While there are currently no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal, certain medications may help cope with the symptoms. Supportive counseling and psychoeducation are often the first-line approaches in managing cannabis withdrawal. These approaches aim to provide emotional support, education, and coping strategies to individuals going through withdrawal.

In addition to counseling, certain medications may be considered to manage short-term symptoms associated with cannabis withdrawal. These medications can help address symptoms such as anxiety, sleep difficulties, and nausea. However, it's important to note that positive findings regarding the effectiveness of these medications have not been consistently replicated in controlled trials. Therefore, the use of medications in cannabis withdrawal management should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

Medications for Symptom Relief

While specific medications have not been proven effective in managing cannabis withdrawal, short-term symptomatic medications may be considered if necessary. These medications can help alleviate specific symptoms associated with withdrawal, such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, and nausea.

Examples of medications that might be used for symptom relief during cannabis withdrawal include:

  • Antidepressants: These medications can help manage depressive symptoms that may arise during withdrawal.
  • Antipsychotics: In some cases, antipsychotic medications like olanzapine or risperidone may be used for a short duration to address agitation or psychotic symptoms during withdrawal.
  • Medications for nausea and vomiting: If individuals experience gastrointestinal symptoms during withdrawal, medications used for nausea and vomiting may be prescribed to provide relief.

It's important to note that the use of medications for cannabis withdrawal should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They can assess the individual's specific needs and determine the appropriateness of medication options based on the severity and duration of symptoms.

Managing marijuana withdrawal involves a comprehensive approach that may include counseling, support, and, in some cases, short-term medication use for symptom relief. It's crucial to seek professional guidance and support throughout the withdrawal process to ensure a safe and effective journey towards recovery.

Support Resources for Withdrawal

When dealing with marijuana withdrawal, it's important to seek support and access resources that can assist you throughout the process. This section highlights various support options available to individuals going through withdrawal.

National Helplines

If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana withdrawal or substance use disorders, national helplines can provide valuable assistance and guidance. These helplines offer confidential, 24-hour support, connecting individuals with knowledgeable professionals who can provide information, referrals, and support.

One such helpline is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline in the United States. This helpline is a confidential, free, and 24/7 service available in both English and Spanish. It offers information and referrals for individuals facing mental health and substance use disorders. The SAMHSA Helpline is accessible to individuals without health insurance or those who are underinsured, as they can be referred to state-funded treatment programs or facilities operating on a sliding fee scale or accepting Medicare or Medicaid.

Canada-Wide Services

In Canada, there are Canada-wide services available to individuals seeking help with substance use, including marijuana withdrawal. These services provide assistance with substance use, overdose prevention, and tobacco cessation. They are accessible to individuals at any time, ensuring support is readily available when needed.

Additionally, the Canadian Mental Health Association provides resources and support for various mental health and substance use concerns. They offer guidance on naloxone kits, their usage, and availability through their Naloxone 101 Toolkit. This toolkit includes information on how, why, and when to use a naloxone kit, as well as where to obtain one for free.

Indigenous-Specific Support

Indigenous peoples in Canada, such as First Nation, Inuit, or Métis individuals, have access to culturally sensitive support resources for substance use. Programs like the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program and National Youth Solvent Abuse Program offer specialized assistance to Indigenous individuals. These programs aim to provide culturally appropriate treatment options and support to address substance use concerns within Indigenous communities.

When seeking support for marijuana withdrawal, it's crucial to reach out to these helplines and services to receive the necessary guidance and resources. Remember, seeking help is a positive step towards recovery, and there are professionals available to support you through the challenges you may face during the withdrawal process.

Withdrawal in Different Demographics

Marijuana withdrawal can affect individuals across various demographics, including age and gender. Understanding the trends and risk factors associated with withdrawal can provide valuable insights into the experiences of different populations.

Age and Gender Trends

The prevalence of marijuana use varies among different age groups and genders. According to a study in 2021, daily marijuana use was reported by nearly one-third of female cannabis users ages 50-64 and one-fifth of those over 65. Among male users, more than one-third of people in all age groups reported using it nearly daily, with over 40% of those over 65 using it daily. This data suggests that marijuana use is prevalent among older age groups, highlighting the need for awareness and support for withdrawal in these populations.

In the United States, marijuana use is also significant among young adults. In 2018, 11.8 million young adults admitted to using marijuana in the past year. Additionally, in 2019, 11.8% of 8th-grade students and 28.8% of 10th-grade students admitted to using marijuana. These statistics underscore the importance of addressing marijuana withdrawal among the younger demographic and implementing prevention and intervention strategies.

Risk Factors for Dependency

Dependency on marijuana can develop in approximately one in ten users, with young people being particularly vulnerable due to the rapid adjustment to the euphoric effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which includes withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing marijuana use, is estimated to be around 47%.

While marijuana withdrawal can affect individuals of all ages and genders, different demographic groups may have varying risk factors for dependency. These factors can include genetic predisposition, mental health conditions, peer influence, and environmental factors. Understanding these risk factors can aid in the development of targeted interventions and support systems to address marijuana withdrawal effectively.

By recognizing the age and gender trends in marijuana use and understanding the risk factors for dependency, it becomes possible to tailor withdrawal management strategies to the specific needs of different demographics. Providing appropriate resources and support can help individuals navigate the challenges of marijuana withdrawal and facilitate a successful recovery process.

Special Considerations for Withdrawal

When it comes to marijuana withdrawal, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind. These include potential complications and the need for inpatient treatment, medication options for symptom management, and dealing with psychotic symptoms.

Complications and Inpatient Treatment

Unlike certain substances, there are no significant complications of cannabis withdrawal that would require inpatient treatment. Most individuals can manage their symptoms on an outpatient basis and do not require specialized medical care.

Medication Options

Currently, there are no specific medications that have been proven effective in managing cannabis withdrawal. However, short-term symptomatic medications may be considered if necessary to alleviate certain symptoms.

While no medications are approved by the FDA for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal, some medications may help cope with the symptoms. These include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and medications used for nausea and vomiting. It's important to note that the use of medications should be discussed with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance.

Dealing with Psychotic Symptoms

Psychotic symptoms during cannabis withdrawal can occur in some individuals. These symptoms can be managed with antipsychotic medications such as olanzapine or risperidone for up to two weeks. However, if the symptoms persist, it is important to seek psychiatric assistance for further evaluation and treatment [2].

It's worth noting that managing withdrawal symptoms and addressing any associated complications should be done under the guidance of healthcare professionals. They can provide appropriate support, evaluate individual needs, and determine the most suitable course of action for each person experiencing marijuana withdrawal.

References

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Leora Behavioral Health offers a comprehensive addiction treatment program to help you get your life back on track. Our trained professionals will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, reach out to Leora Behavioral Health today.

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