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Study: Cannabis Withdrawal Highly Comorbid, ‘Disabling’

May 20, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—Cannabis withdrawal syndrome affects more than 1 in 10 adults in the United States who frequently use the drug and is associated with significant disability, researchers reported in a poster abstract scheduled to be presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

“With cannabis use increasing among US adults, information is needed about the prevalence and correlates of [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] DSM-5 cannabis withdrawal syndrome in the general population,” wrote poster presenter Ofir Livne, MD, and coauthors Shaul Lev-Ran, MD, and Deborah Hasin, PhD.

Researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III to identify 1527 people who reported using cannabis 3 times a week in the previous year. Among them, the prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome as described in DSM-5 was 12.1%.

The most common symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome were nervousness/anxiety (76.3%), hostility (71.9%), sleep difficulty (68.2%), and depressed mood (58.9%), according to the study.

Cannabis withdrawal syndrome was associated with significant disability, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and family history of depression, according to the poster abstract. However, it was not linked with a personal history of other substance use disorders or a family history of substance use problems.

“Our findings suggest that cannabis withdrawal syndrome is highly comorbid and disabling,” researchers wrote. “Its shared symptoms with depressive and anxiety disorders call for clinician awareness of cannabis withdrawal syndrome and the factors associated with it to promote more effective treatment among frequent cannabis users.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


“Prevalence and correlates of DSM-5 cannabis withdrawal syndrome: findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III.” Abstract scheduled to be presented at: the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA.

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