Cannabis withdrawal involves experiencing at least two psychological and one physiological symptom (at least three symptoms total) after stopping heavy and prolonged marijuana use (e.g., daily or almost daily use for the past several months).
Some psychological symptoms a person may experience following cannabis abstinence include:
- Depressed mood
- Changes in sleeping (e.g., insomnia, fatigue)
- Changes in eating (e.g., reduced appetite/weight loss).
Physical symptoms include
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms cannot be due to another medical condition or abstinence from a substance other than cannabis.
The experience of these symptoms must cause a person significant distress and/or interference with school, work, or other daily responsibilities. Many cannabis users report that withdrawal symptoms make it difficult to quit or have contributed to relapse.
The symptoms typically are not of sufficient severity to require medical attention, but medication or behavioral strategies may help alleviate symptoms and improve prognosis in those trying to quit using cannabis.
The amount, duration, and frequency of cannabis smoking that is required to produce an associated withdrawal disorder during a quit attempt are unknown. Most symptoms have their onset within the first 24–72 hours of cessation, peaking within the first week, and lasting approximately 1–2 weeks. Sleep difficulties may last more than 30 days.
Cannabis withdrawal has been documented among adolescents and adults. Withdrawal tends to be more common and severe among adults, most likely related to the more persistent and greater frequency and quantity of use among adults.
Note: Cannabis withdrawal is new to DSM-5 (2013); Diagnostic code: 292.0.
Medina, J. (2014). Cannabis (Marijuana) Withdrawal. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/cannabis-marijuana-withdrawal/
Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Sep 2014
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