Clinical Management of Cannabis Withdrawal
Addiction. 2021 Nov 17. doi: 10.1111/add.15743. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cannabis withdrawal is a well characterized phenomenon that occurs in approximately half of regular and dependent cannabis users after abrupt cessation or significant reductions in cannabis that contains Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This review describes the diagnosis, prevalence, course and management of cannabis withdrawal and highlights opportunities for future clinical research.
METHODS: Narrative review of literature.
RESULTS: Symptom onset typically occurs 24-48 hours after cessation and most symptoms generally peak at days 2-3, with some symptoms lasting up to 3 weeks in heavy cannabis users. The most common features of cannabis withdrawal are anxiety, irritability, anger or aggression, disturbed sleep/dreaming, depressed mood and loss of appetite. Less common physical symptoms include chills, headaches, physical tension, sweating and stomach pain. Despite limited empirical evidence, supportive counselling and psychoeducation are the first line approaches in the management of cannabis withdrawal. There are no medications currently approved specifically for medically assisted withdrawal (MAW). Medications have been used to manage short-term symptoms (e.g., anxiety, sleep, nausea). A number of promising pharmacological agents have been examined in controlled trials but these have been underpowered and positive findings not reliably replicated. Some (e.g., cannabis agonists) are used ‘off label’ in clinical practice. While inpatient admission is rarely required for MAW, psychiatric comorbidities and polysubstance use and dependence can require additional management to avoid severe complications.
CONCLUSIONS: The clinical significance of cannabis withdrawal is that its symptoms may precipitate relapse to cannabis use. Complicated withdrawal may occur in persons with concurrent mental health and polysubstance use.
Source: ncbi 2
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