A recent study has found that marijuana withdrawal is being experienced in more than half the people using medicinal marijuana for pain.

In a study published January 5th, Lara Coughlin, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan and her colleagues found that 59% percent of people using medical cannabis for chronic pain experienced moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms if they stopped ingesting weed for hours or days.

For those people who use cannabis regularly, part of the brain becomes reliant on the cannabinoids. Withdrawal symptoms can include both physical and psychological experiences and usually go away within one to two weeks after use is stopped.

Coughlin has said, “To figure out how common withdrawal symptoms are, over two years, my colleagues and I repeatedly surveyed 527 people who were using medical weed for chronic pain. We found that 59% of people who use medical cannabis for chronic pain had moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. The most common symptoms were sleep difficulties, irritability and anxiety.”

She added, “We also found that cannabis withdrawal symptoms were more severe in younger people, people with mental health problems, people who had a longer history of cannabis use and people who used more frequently or in larger amounts. Additionally, we found that smoking cannabis – rather than eating or topically applying it – was correlated with worse withdrawal symptoms.”

She continued, “Our team also looked at how people’s withdrawal symptoms changed over time. Most continued to experience the same severity of withdrawal symptoms any time they stopped ingesting cannabis over the two years of the study, but about 10% – particularly younger people – got worse over time. As with most dependency-forming substances, reducing the frequency or amount of cannabis use may help to alleviate these symptoms.”

She went on to say, “Our study looked at people who use medical cannabis only for pain. But in another recent meta-analysis that included both recreational and medical use, researchers found that 47% of frequent cannabis users experience withdrawals.”

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