Cannabis users have a greater chance of relapse when they experience certain withdrawal symptoms, according to new research.
A research team led by David Allsop, Ph.D., of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at the University of New South Wales tested a group of people addicted to cannabis over a two-week period of abstinence for impairment related to their withdrawal symptoms.
Findings were correlated with the probability of relapse during the abstinence period, and the level of use one month later.
The researchers found that in more dependent users, certain withdrawal symptoms — such as physical tension, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, mood swings and loss of appetite — were more strongly associated with relapse than other symptoms, such as hot flashes, fatigue, or night sweats.
The researchers also report that those with greater dependence before the attempt at abstinence reported more severe impairment from the withdrawal.
And those with greater impairment from withdrawal then consumed more cannabis during the month following the attempt at abstinence.
The findings may help improve counseling and treatment strategies for those looking for support to give up their addiction, according to the researchers.
“Tailoring treatments to target withdrawal symptoms contributing to functional impairment during a quit attempt may improve treatment outcomes,” said Allsop.
The research was published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
Source: Public Library of Science