Marijuana is the most highly abused illicit drug in our nation. It’s estimated that of those who abuse this drug, 30 percent have a marijuana use disorder. In 2015, this equated to four million people.
Chronic use of marijuana may result in a physical dependence. A physically dependent person will experience withdrawal when they’re not using the drug. Marijuana withdrawal may make a person anxious, on edge, fatigued, and have difficulty sleeping.
Without the proper treatment and support, a person may relapse to avoid these symptoms. Individuals with a marijuana use disorder may benefit from individualized treatment to help them build a sober life.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Contrary to what many people think, marijuana is addictive. Individuals who frequently abuse the drug in high quantities may develop a marijuana use disorder.
It’s estimated that nearly nine percent of marijuana abusers will develop a dependence to the drug. This risk increases for individuals who use marijuana at young ages. Seventeen percent of those who use the drug as teens are expected to become dependent to marijuana. Dependency is a qualifying factor of addiction.
When a person is addicted to marijuana their body will become reliant on the drug to function properly. This is called a dependency.
When a person uses high amounts of marijuana the drug’s THC becomes a substitute for the THC-like chemicals contained in our brain. This leads our brain to reduce the natural production of its own THC-like chemicals.
Once a person is dependent their body struggles to function due to these reduced levels, should the marijuana suddenly be absent. This is what causes a person to experience withdrawal.
Other signs of a marijuana use disorder include when a person:
- needs more of the drug to produce the same high (a tolerance).
- experiences strong cravings or urges to use the drug.
- continues using the drug despite adverse physical or mental health effects.
- pushes their friends and family members away.
- spends large amounts of time and money in the pursuit of obtaining the drug.
- begins ignoring important duties relating to work, school, or the family.
If a person continues to use marijuana their quality of life and health may rapidly decline.
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Symptoms Of Marijuana Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms are typically greatest from the time of discontinuation through the third or fourth day. Symptoms usually taper off as time passes and cease by day seven to ten. However, some individuals may experience discomfort for up to two weeks.
Certain symptoms may not decline as time passes. One study found that as time went on, chronic abusers had greater trouble falling asleep and experienced strange dreams.
A second study found that those who had used marijuana for shorter periods of time on a chronic basis experienced a greater amount of withdrawal symptoms. Despite this, long-term, chronic users of marijuana encounter severe withdrawal as well.
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- decreased appetite
- loss of appetite
- psychomotor retardation
- trouble concentrating
Individuals may also experience a sense of physical discomfort which could include chills, fever, sweating, headache, shakiness or tremors, and stomach ache. Some people may become angry, fearful, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.
Many individuals relapse to avoid the discomfort associated with withdrawal. A return to marijuana can be very harmful to both the body and brain. Prolonged use of the drug may cause cognitive impairment, mental health problems, and recurring respiratory infections.
Selecting an individualized treatment program can help individuals with a marijuana use disorder to regain a healthier, sober life.
Getting Treatment For Marijuana Withdrawal
Individuals who experience severe withdrawal may need to stay at a residential treatment facility. Treatment may include detoxification services to reduce or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and rehabilitation for the psychological symptoms of addiction.
There are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of a marijuana use disorder. However, since sleep disruption occurs so frequently during marijuana withdrawal, medications may be used to help a person fall asleep and stay asleep. Other medications may prescribed to address mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety.
Recent research has found that gabapentin may be useful in treating symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. Chronic marijuana use alters the functioning of the brain’s stress circuitry. Gabapentin stops stress hormones from altering certain neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which creates a more calm, relaxed state. This action is what’s believed to make gabapentin a potentially useful treatment for marijuana withdrawal.
After a person successfully withdrawals from marijuana, further treatment for the psychological addiction may be necessary. Behavioral therapies are effective components of treatment for a marijuana use disorder. These sessions help a person to develop sober living and relapse prevention skills.
Contact DrugRehab.org today to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment.
For More Information Related to “Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:
- What Is The Difference Between Hashish And Marijuana
- Cannabis (Marijuana) May Lower The Brain’s Dopamine Levels
- Verbal Memory Harmed By Marijuana Use
- Marijuana And Alcohol Use Increases Odds Of Drunk Driving
MedlinePlus — Substance Use – Marijuana
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Gabapentin Tested To Treat Marijuana Dependence, Is Marijuana Addictive?