Cannabis users can suffer same acute withdrawal symptoms as tobacco smokers when they quit
Cannabis users were asked to stop taking the drug for two weeksThey experienced symptoms including insomnia, mood swings and loss of appetite
13:11 GMT, 27 September 2012
People who try to quit smoking pot can experience withdrawal symptoms that affect their daily lives, according to an Australian study.
Scientists found that when regular cannabis users were asked to quit the habit for two weeks they suffered a variety of symptoms that affected their ability to work and their personal relationships.
These included irritability, sleeping difficulties, mood swings and loss of appetite.
The effects of the withdrawal symptoms were found to be similar to those going through nicotine withdrawal.
Half of all 16 to 29 year olds have tried pot at least once in the UK. However, regular use has been linked to depression
The most extreme impairments, that included depression, were seen among the users most dependent on the Class B drug.
The study, of 49 cannabis users who hadn't been seeking treatment, also found certain symptoms were linked with a greater chance of relapsing. So those who experienced insomnia, physical tension and mood swings, were more likely to fail compared to others who had hot flashes, fatigue and night sweats.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales,also found those who had greater
impairment from cannabis withdrawal consumed more of it during the
month after their attempt to stop smoking.
Compounds from the cannabis plant are being tested for medicinal purposes. However, the drug is Class B making it illegal to possess, sell or share
Writing in the open access journal PLoS One, the reserachers wrote: 'Cannabis withdrawal is clinically significant because it is associated
with functional impairment to normal daily activities, as well as
relapse to cannabis use.'
Cannabis is the most commonly taken illegal drug, with two million regular smokers in the UK. Half of all 16 to
29 year olds have tried pot at least once.
In spite of government
warnings about the health risks, many people see it as a harmless
substance that can help them to relax.
However, according to The Royal College of Psychiatrists around 1 in 10 cannabis users have unpleasant
experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and
paranoia. Long-term use can also cause loss of motivation and depression.
Other recent research has shown the drug can be a major cause of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia in
those who are genetically vulnerable.
The team from NSW said their
research could help improve counseling and treatment strategies for cannabis users looking to break their habit.
Lead author, David Allsop, said: 'Tailoring treatments to target withdrawal symptoms
contributing to functional impairment during a quit attempt may improve
The team plan to test whether these findings are confirmed by a larger sample size.