What are the best methods to wean oneself from recreational cannabis, once one has accepted one's own addiction to this substance? Over 50% of medical marijuana users were shown to experience clusters of withdrawal symptoms when they were between uses in a new, detailed study
Cannabis and THC: How to wean yourself off?
Cannabis addiction affects millions of people around the world and cannabis is one of the most difficult substances to wean off today. Indeed, psychoactive cannabis, mainly composed of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is a plant that exposes its user to addiction very quickly. After only a few weeks of regular use, the euphoric effect of the beginning gradually gives way to unwanted side effects, which can sometimes destroy lives.
As research advances, new methods of withdrawal are emerging over the years. Discoveries of techniques and products that support cannabis (THC) withdrawal are multiplying and helping millions of people to get rid of their addiction to cannabis. Cannabidiol oil or CBD is the most concrete example
Millions of people are using CBD, a cannabinoid found in cannabis but having no psychotropic effect, to wean themselves off cannabis and regain control of their lives. This phenomenon has prompted scientists to conduct research to confirm the effectiveness of CBD oil in cannabis (THC) withdrawal and their results have been conclusive
If you are addicted to cannabis and want to quit smoking, you have come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms that should alert you to your use, what exactly cannabis withdrawal is, the conditions that support successful withdrawal, and how CBD can play a crucial role in your transition
The symptoms of cannabis addiction
Before you decide to wean yourself off, you need to know how to detect addiction. There are many symptoms that can reveal your addiction to cannabis:
- You are losing control of your use
- You have already made several unsuccessful attempts to quit
- Your use is affecting other aspects of your life (your relationship, your friendships, your professional life etc.)
- You are aware of your addiction and the danger but continue to use anyway
- You have heart palpitations, hunger pangs, dry mouth, memory loss, red eyes, bad trips, anxiety, choking or nausea
- You have mood swings, you are irritable, agitated and aggressive
- The idea of going a few days without smoking makes you nervous
- You have a significant loss of appetite or weight
This list is not exhaustive. To detect if you have a cannabis addiction problem, it is best to consult a health professional. This can be your GP or, in the first instance, an online counselling service such as Drogues info service or Écoute Cannabis in France.
What is cannabis withdrawal?
Before embarking on cannabis withdrawal, let’s define withdrawal and the stages that constitute it
Cannabis withdrawal is the period during which a person who is addicted to cannabis goes without using it on a long-term basis. During the cannabis withdrawal period, withdrawal symptoms appear.
Stopping the use of cannabis can indeed lead to a cannabis withdrawal syndrome in an addicted individual. The intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Withdrawal symptoms are both physical and psychological in nature
During the cannabis withdrawal period, the following symptoms may occur (not an exhaustive list):
- Emotional fluctuations
- Sleep disturbances
- Stomach aches
- Loss of appetite
- Hot flashes
Withdrawal symptoms can last from 1 to 6 weeks. The total duration of cannabis withdrawal depends on the individual but usually lasts several months. At the end of the withdrawal period, the person who has used it no longer feels the urge to smoke at all and is completely detached from cannabis use
But what are the most effective methods of withdrawal from cannabis?
Effective methods for withdrawal from cannabis
Motivation is an essential point to face the withdrawal period. The withdrawal period can hardly start if you are not motivated. Regularly reminding yourself of the reasons why you want to stop using cannabis will help. To do this, make a list of the disadvantages of cannabis use in your life and refer to it regularly. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to people you trust about your withdrawal who will be your support during the transition. They can help you stay motivated throughout the transition.
Joining support groups
If you don’t have the opportunity to be supported by your loved ones or don’t want to include them too closely in your transition, finding comfort from others in the same situation will be very beneficial. Contacting a support group near you or online is a good way to feel less alone and keep the motivation going over time. The support of Drogues Info Service or Écoute cannabis counsellors can also be of great help in case of distress.
One of the most difficult but fundamental steps is to change your daily habits. Cannabis use is logically a habit. Withdrawal is therefore the ideal time to kill the habits that created the habit! If you smoke in your boredom, fill your blanks with activities you enjoy. If you smoke with friends, you’ll have to rethink your friendships and perhaps distance yourself from them, at least for the duration of your withdrawal. If you smoke to sleep, find another way to sleep (hypnosis, meditation, CBD. ). You will hardly get results if you do not change the bad habits..
Sport is an effective remedy for all ills! Resuming or intensifying a sport practice will allow you to release the pressure, to feel alive and relaxed. The well-being you are looking for in cannabis is in the sport, more precisely in a hormone that spreads in your body when you do sport: endorphin! Just like morphine, endorphin has an extremely effective analgesic effect against additions, all doctors say so! If you do 30 minutes of sport a day on a regular basis, your body will naturally produce more and more endorphins and your daily well-being will be noticed immediately. The effects of sport are not to be taken lightly!
Meditation, breathing exercises and nature
Being aware of your motivation is good, being aware of your body, breathing and health is even better. Meditation, breathing exercises, long walks in nature and the fresh air of green spaces can only be strong supports that will help you to anchor yourself in the present moment. Our advice: don’t isolate yourself! Get outside as often as possible, find green spaces and take deep, slow breaths, if possible a few times a week.
Using CBD to wean yourself off THC
According to a 2015 scientific study on a cannabis addicted patient, using CBD oil has been proven to have calming, anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects. CBD is effective as a companion method to marijuana withdrawal, and drastically decreases the unwanted side effects discussed above. Millions of former addicts validate these conclusions, and you can find their testimonies on the internet
Other more recent studies evaluating the action of CBD on substance addictions in general are unanimous: CBD offers promising virtues in the treatment of addicts.
CBD is not at its first victory in the health sector. Indeed, studies on CBD and diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or fibromyalgia have already confirmed the benefits of this valuable oil
The trick is to find a quality oil. Do not hesitate to consult the 321 CBD shop for Premium CBD Oils, made and legal in France.
Using CBD oil for pain management? Watch out for withdrawal
Over 50% of medical marijuana users were shown to experience clusters of withdrawal symptoms when they were between uses in a new, detailed study
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Washington [US], January 9 (ANI): More than half of people who use medical marijuana products to ease pain also experience clusters of multiple withdrawal symptoms when they’re between uses, a new study finds.
About 10% of the patients taking part in the study experienced worsening changes to their sleep, mood, mental state, energy, and appetite over the next two years as they continued to use cannabis.
Many of them may not recognize that these symptoms come not from their underlying condition, but from their brain and body’s reaction to the absence of substances in the cannabis products they’re smoking, vaping, eating, or applying to their skin, says the University of Michigan Addiction Center psychologist who led the study.
When someone experiences more than a few such symptoms, it’s called cannabis withdrawal syndrome, and it can mean a higher risk of developing even more serious issues such as a cannabis use disorder.
In the new research published in the journal Addiction, a team from the U-M Medical School and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System reports findings from detailed surveys across two years of 527 Michigan residents. All were participating in the state’s system to certify people with certain conditions for use of medical cannabis and had non-cancer-related pain.
“Some people report experiencing significant benefits from medical cannabis, but our findings suggest a real need to increase awareness about the signs of withdrawal symptoms developing to decrease the potential downsides of cannabis use, especially among those who experience severe or worsening symptoms over time,” says Lara Coughlin, Ph.D., the addiction psychologist who led the analysis.
A long-term study in medical cannabis use
The researchers asked the patients whether they had experienced any of 15 different symptoms – ranging from trouble sleeping and nausea to irritability and aggression – when they had gone a significant time without using cannabis.
The researchers used an analytic method to empirically group the patients into those who had no symptoms or mild symptoms at the start of the study, those who had moderate symptoms (meaning they experienced multiple withdrawal symptoms), and those who had severe withdrawal issues that included most or all of the symptoms.
They then looked at how things changed over time, surveying the patients one year and two years after their first survey.
At baseline, 41% of the study participants fell into the mild symptoms group, 34% were in the moderate group and 25% were classed as severe.
Misconceptions about medical cannabis
Many people who turn to medical cannabis for pain do so because other pain relievers haven’t worked, says Coughlin, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry who sees patients as part of U-M Addiction Treatment Services. They may also want to avoid long-term use of opioid pain medications because they pose a risk of misuse and other adverse health consequences.
She notes that people who experience issues related to their cannabis use for pain should talk with their health care providers about receiving other pain treatments including psychosocial treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The perception of cannabis as “harmless” is not correct, she says. It contains substances called cannabinoids that act on the brain – and that over time can lead the brain to react when those substances are absent.
In addition to a general craving to use cannabis, withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, restlessness, depressed mood, aggression, irritability, nausea, sweating, headache, stomach pain, strange dreams, increased anger, and shakiness.
Previous research has shown that the more symptoms and greater severity of symptoms a person has, the less likely they are to be able to reduce their use of cannabis, quit using it, or stay away from it once they quit.
They may mistakenly think that the symptoms happen because of their underlying medical conditions, and may even increase the amount or frequency of their cannabis use to try to counteract the effect – leading to a cycle of increasing use and increasing withdrawal.
Coughlin says people who decide to use a cannabis product for a medical purpose should discuss the amount, route of administration, frequency, and type of cannabis product with their regular health provider. They should also familiarize themselves with the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal and tell their provider if they’re experiencing them.
Feeling the urge to use cannabis after a period without use, such as soon after waking up, can be a sign of withdrawal syndrome, she notes. So can the inability to cut back on use without experiencing craving or other symptoms of withdrawal.
Because there is no medically accepted standard for medical cannabis dosing for different conditions, patients are often faced with a wide array of cannabis products that vary in strength and route of administration. Some products could pose more risk for the development of withdrawal symptoms than others, Coughlin says.
For example, people who smoked cannabis tended to have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others, while people who vaped cannabis reported symptoms that tended to stay the same or get worse but generally did not improve, over time.
As more states legalize cannabis for medical or general use, including several states that will legalize its use based on the results of last November’s election, use is expected to grow.
More about the study
The researchers asked the patients about how they used cannabis products, how often, and how long they’d been using them, as well as about their mental and physical health, their education, and employment status.
Over time, those who had started off in the mild withdrawal symptom group were likely to stay there, but some did progress to moderate withdrawal symptoms.
People in the moderate withdrawal group were more likely to go down in symptoms than up, and by the end of the study, the number of people in the severe category had dropped to 17 percent. In all, 13 percent of the patients had gone up to the next level of symptoms by the end of the first year, and 8 percent had transitioned upward by the end of two years.
Sleep problems were the most common symptom across all three groups, and many in the mild group also reported cravings for cannabis. In the moderate group, the most common withdrawal symptoms were sleep problems, depressed mood, decreased appetite, craving, restlessness, anxiety, and irritability.
The severe withdrawal symptom group was much more likely to report all the symptoms except sweatiness. Nearly all the participants in this group reported irritability, anxiety, and sleep problems. They were also more likely to be longtime and frequent users of cannabis.
Those in the severe group were more likely to be younger and to have worse mental health. Older adults were less likely to go up in withdrawal symptom severity, while those who vaped cannabis were less likely to transition to a lower withdrawal-severity group.
The study didn’t assess nicotine use or try to distinguish between symptoms that could also be related to breakthrough pain or diagnosed/undiagnosed mental health conditions during abstinence.
Coughlin and her colleagues hope future research can explore cannabis withdrawal symptoms among medical cannabis patients further, including the impact of different attempts to abstain, different types of use and administration routes, and interaction with other physical and mental health factors. Most research on cannabis withdrawal has been in recreational users, or “snapshot” looks at medical cannabis patients at a single point in time.
Further research could help identify those most at risk of developing problems, and reduce the risk of progression to cannabis use disorder, which is when someone uses cannabis repeatedly despite major impacts on their lives and ability to function. (ANI)