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Marijuana Withdrawal

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Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, with dependency and relapse rates comparable to other widely abused drugs. There is a long time dispute on whether clinical marijuana withdrawal syndrome truly exists. Despite clinical and preclinical evidence suggesting that marijuana withdrawal syndrome does in fact exist, it is not recognized as a diagnostic category.

What is Marijuana Withdrawal

While not everyone who has abused marijuana over a prolonged period of time will experience marijuana withdrawal when stopping its use, there are many who will. When dependent on marijuana the body tricked into thinking it requires the drug function normally, when abruptly stopping its use the body needs to learn how to function without the drug resulting in a flood of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings for marijuana.

Within 24 hours of discontinuing the use of marijuana various clinical withdrawal symptoms will begin, including: restlessness, anorexia, irritability and insomnia. These symptoms will peak in intensity within 2 to 4 days, lasting from 7 to 10 days depending on the severity of the individuals dependency on marijuana.

Social, Psychological, and Physical Impairments of  Marijuana Abuse

  • relationship and family problems
  • guilt associated with use of the drug
  • financial difficulties
  • low energy
  • low self-esteem
  • dissatisfaction with productivity level
  • sleep and memory problems
  • low life satisfaction

Pharmaceutical and Behavioral Treatment for Marijuana Dependency

The number of people seeking treatment for marijuana dependency in the United States is comparable with other widely abused drugs. The need for pharmaceutical and behavioral treatment for marijuana dependency is great. While marijuana withdrawal syndrome is not recognized as a diagnostic category, many addictions treatment centers have certain protocols in place to treat each individual patient suffering from marijuana dependency.

Behavioral treatment used to help people overcome marijuana dependency often involves: motivational enhancement therapy (MET), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and contingency management (CM). While a behavioral based treatment plan often is effective in itself, some patients require pharmaceutical treatment to ease symptoms of withdrawal and ease cravings. When used in combination they are often effective in the treatment of a severe marijuana dependency, greatly reducing the risk of relapse.

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