The answer to this question is YES, there is such thing as cannabis withdrawal. Marijuana withdrawal is real.
There might be cannabis enthusiasts and advocates who would insist that cannabis is all about positive effects. For them, cannabis can never do bad.
But here’s the thing: cannabis does have its share of negative effects. For one, studies have shown that weed has the potential to negatively affect regular users. There are also studies that have shown that cannabis can negatively impact those who use it regularly but quit suddenly.
Cannabis withdrawal – just like all other forms of withdrawal, including withdrawal from alcohol, cigarettes, hard drugs, and other substances and habits – is not easy and it affects individuals differently. However, withdrawal from cannabis is not as dangerous to one’s health and not as difficult to deal with as it is in the case of harder drugs like heroin or crack cocaine.
Also, typically, long-term or heavy pot users who quit experience more serious or severe side effects compared to those who did not use weed as long or as heavily.
What are the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal?
Cannabis withdrawal symptoms vary according to a user’s level of dependency. Those with mild dependence may experience minor physical and psychological discomfort. This includes restlessness and headaches.
Meanwhile, those with heavy dependence or severe addiction to cannabis may have to deal with more intense withdrawal symptoms. These include swelling, chills, flu-like symptoms, decreased appetite, fever, sweating, and hallucinations.
Other common symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include mood changes, depression, irritability, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, weight loss, and stomach pains.
Additional symptoms include fatigue, excessive yawning, problems concentrating, and rebound periods of insomnia and hypersomnia, as well as of increased appetite after low appetite.
The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal typically start manifesting one to three days after a user has stopped consuming the drug and might last for a week or two. Sleep disturbances, however, could last a lot longer.
How is cannabis withdrawal treated?
Users with mild cannabis dependencies can usually manage to stop on their own. However, for chronic users who have already built up a tolerance, they might need more help kick the habit. For this, there are several treatments available.
The best treatment for cannabis withdrawal involves a combination of strategies. These strategies include:
Medication. Currently, the FDA has not approved any medication for cannabis withdrawal treatment. However, some doctors prescribe meds like antidepressants to treat severe psychological problems caused or exacerbated by cannabis withdrawal. Some doctors may also prescribe sleep aid medications to treat insomnia associated with withdrawal.
Motivational enhancement therapy. Motivational enhancement therapy is used to treat patients who do not have the motivation to quit the use of weed. This kind of therapy instills confidence in a person to commit to kicking the habit of consuming cannabis while decreasing ambivalence associated with recovery.
Psychotherapy. There are different kinds of psychotherapy that have been shown to effectively treat cannabis addiction. There’s cognitive-behavioral therapy, which examines the connections between feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, and how they relate to cannabis abuse. In this kind of psychotherapy, the therapist teaches the patient positive coping skills, as well as self-talk strategies. There’s also contingency management, which uses a reward system as incentive for abstaining from cannabis consumption. Then there’s social support, wherein an encouraging environment is created to promote abstinence. In this form of therapy, a strong support network of friends and family surrounds the patient to enhance positivity.
You may find the detox and withdrawal stage of the recovery process to be very difficult and uncomfortable, so if you are planning to kick your marijuana habit, it is best to seek the assistance of medical professionals. You can avail of either outpatient or inpatient program.
An outpatient program is recommended for individuals with milder forms of cannabis dependence. An inpatient program, on the other hand, is best for those who have a more severe addiction to cannabis.
Outpatient programs are for those who wish to stay at home during treatment yet avail of professional help and advice as they pursue recovery. Inpatient programs are for those who want a higher level of care within a structured environment so they could focus solely on their recovery.