Marijuana withdrawal is the term used to describe a wide range of symptoms that occur after a marijuana user suddenly stops using the drug or dramatically reduces their use. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that is derived from the Cannabis plant. It is the most widely used illicit drug in the world, with an estimated 162 million people around the world using marijuana annually. Admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities for marijuana have more than doubled since the early 1990s, and are right up there with treatment admissions for cocaine and heroin. Individuals seeking treatment for marijuana addiction have often failed in their attempts to quit on their own, and marijuana users have high rates of relapse comparable to those found for other drugs of abuse.
Marijuana increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which is what causes the "high" that the individual experiences after ingesting the drug. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is a highly addictive drug and individuals who use the drug long-term experience marijuana withdrawal when they
stop using the drug. Some marijuana users contest the addictive properties of the drug. However, today's marijuana is nearly 10 times as potent as it was 10-20 years ago and so are the risks of becoming addicted to it. Individuals are also at risk for developing tolerance to marijuana after long-term use, and can experience marijuana withdrawal as a result of this.
To prove the addictive quality of the drug, a study was conducted of nearly 500 marijuana smokers who tried to kick the habit. The study involved 469 marijuana users, ages 18 to 64. About one in four reported smoking marijuana more than 10,000 times in their lifetime, the equivalent of daily use for 27 years. Over 50% reported having smoked marijuana more than 2,000 times. A total of 42.4% of the individuals who participated in the study experienced withdrawal symptoms. The most common reported were cravings for the drug, irritability, boredom, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Of the individuals who reported withdrawal symptoms, 78.4% said they started smoking pot again to reduce them. Overall, 33.3% of the study's participants began using marijuana again to reduce or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Someone going through marijuana withdrawal may not display symptoms similar to those withdrawing from alcohol or opiates. However, studies show that heavy marijuana use produces both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana withdrawal is not life-threatening but can be very uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to overcome the cravings which often results in relapse. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can be described as the opposite of the intoxicating effects of the drug. There is typically a loss of appetite, an inability to sleep, depression, headache, excessive sweating, loose stools, nausea, anxiety, paranoia and irritability or aggression. Some individuals experiencing marijuana withdrawal complain of feeling like they have a low-grade flu.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 1-3 days of abstinence and can last for 10-14 days. These symptoms may be quite intense and persist for several days before gradually subsiding, and it is during this period that the cravings to use marijuana are strongest, and there is the greatest risk of relapse. It is important that someone going through marijuana withdrawal seek help at an inpatient drug treatment facility specializing in marijuana withdrawal and detox. This will ensure that the individual will not relapse back into use.
Long-term marijuana use can be dangerous, lessen your quality of life, and negatively impact your health and well being. Marijuana use promotes cancer and increases the risk of experiencing certain conditions such as anxiety, psychosis and depression. Studies have shown that marijuana use is linked to memory loss and cognitive deficits.
Marijuana addiction and withdrawal are real, and there is a medically recognized syndrome of symptoms for marijuana withdrawal. If you have tried to quit using the drug and have failed, this is why. It can be difficult for individuals going through marijuana withdrawal to overcome their cravings, and they may find that they are unable to stop using the drug even though they have the best of intentions to do so. Some individuals will need assistance to get through the marijuana withdrawal process and this is where a long-term inpatient drug treatment facility comes in.
Thousands of people enter drug treatment or rehab annually for marijuana addiction, and there is hope for those who want to put an end to their use of the drug. Once an individual is through marijuana withdrawal, they will be able to follow through with counseling and therapy to address the underlying issues at the root of their addiction to the drug to ensure a lasting recovery. Get help through withdrawal today and put an end to your addiction to marijuana.