Who Said Pot Isn’t Addictive?

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An Australian study of withdrawal effects of cannabis users was conducted by David Allsop, PhD of the University of South Wales in Australia. Dr. Allsop noted that the more severe a person’s marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using and the more significant their level of post-use functional impairment was related to the increased likelihood for return to using again. The study involved 46 participants who smoked five days a more per week, had experienced one or more withdrawal symptoms and were asked to quit smoking for two weeks with a follow-up at a one-month interval. Participants were given a one-week period of “smoking as usual” followed by a two-week abstinence and a one-month follow-up. Each day during the 3 week period of smoking and abstinence they were asked to complete a 46-item Cannabis Withdrawal Scale which rated 19 withdrawal symptoms. Individuals with higher dependency scores demonstrated greater functional impairment which included:Trouble sleeping

 

  • Lack of appetite
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feeling like “life was an uphill struggle”
  • Feelings of physical tension
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Dr. Allsop and his colleagues speculated that lower level of marijuana use was associated with lower levels of withdrawal-related impairment. Higher use participants who experienced greater levels of functional impairment were more likely to return to their pre-abstinence use. While the small size of the study group and the fact that the participants were not treatment seeking were among factors which limited the study but certainly the study findings indicate the need to expand the approach and tailoring substance abuse treatment more specifically to alleviate the target symptoms.

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