Cannabis For Pain Have Multiple Withdrawal Symptoms
A new study finds that more than half of people who use medical marijuana products to relieve pain also experience clusters of multiple withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them.
Over the next two years, about 10% of the patients in the study experienced worsening changes in their sleep, mood, mental state, energy, and appetite as they continued to use cannabis.
Many of them may be unaware that their symptoms are caused by their brain and body’s reaction to the lack of substances in the cannabis products they’re smoking, vaping, eating, or applying to their skin, according to the University of Michigan Addiction Center psychologist who led the study.
When a person experiences more than a few of these symptoms, this is referred to as cannabis withdrawal syndrome, and it can indicate a higher risk of developing more serious issues, such as a cannabis use disorder.
A team from the University of Michigan Medical School and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System reports findings from detailed surveys of 527 Michigan residents conducted over a two-year period in the journal Addiction. All were involved in the state’s system for certifying people with certain conditions for the use of medical cannabis, and all were suffering from non-cancer-related pain.
“Some people report significant benefits from medical cannabis,” says Lara Coughlin, Ph.D., the addiction psychologist who led the study. “However, our findings suggest a real need to raise awareness about the signs of withdrawal symptoms developing in order to reduce the potential downsides of cannabis use, particularly among those who experience severe or worsening symptoms over time.”
Long-term research into medical cannabis use
The researchers asked the patients if they had experienced any of 15 different symptoms, ranging from difficulty sleeping and nausea to irritability and aggression, after being away from cannabis for an extended period of time.
The researchers used an analytic method to empirically categorize the patients as having no or mild symptoms at the start of the study, moderate symptoms (meaning they experienced multiple withdrawal symptoms), and severe withdrawal issues that included most or all of the symptoms.
It is important to note that while marijuana use can provide relief for some individuals experiencing pain, it may also come with potential withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity and duration depending on factors such as the frequency and duration of cannabis use, individual biology, and personal circumstances.
Research suggests that individuals who use cannabis regularly and then abruptly stop or significantly reduce their use may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include irritability, insomnia, anxiety, decreased appetite, restlessness, mood swings, and physical discomfort. These symptoms typically arise within the first week after discontinuing cannabis use and may last for a few days to a couple of weeks.
It is worth noting that not everyone who uses marijuana for pain management will experience withdrawal symptoms, and the severity and duration can vary greatly among individuals. Factors such as the amount and frequency of cannabis use, as well as personal sensitivity, can influence the likelihood and intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
If you are considering discontinuing marijuana use for pain management, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and support to help manage any potential withdrawal symptoms and develop an appropriate plan for transitioning to alternative pain management strategies.
Ultimately, the decision to use or discontinue cannabis for pain management should be made in close consultation with a healthcare professional, taking into consideration individual circumstances, potential risks, and the availability of alternative treatment options.