What’s The Truth About Cannabis Withdrawal?
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Talk about cannabis problems tends to be polarized. On one side you’ll have weed smokers who are adamant that it doesn’t cause a problem, but then they would say that.
On the other hand, you have got a body of scientists, and anti-drug individuals and groups also saying that it’s a gateway drug and causes potentially greater health problems than is admitted. However, some of that ignores the growing evidence that cannabis can help with a range of health problems.
Neither of those stances is the total truth, but the evidence does show that cannabis isn’t problem free for many smokers. As is almost always the case, somewhere in the middle, not at the polarized ends of the spectrum, is where you will find the truth.
Cannabis Is A Safe Drug….But That’s Not The Whole Story
Now obviously “safe” is a relative word. No drug is totally safe, but cannabis is not a drug that can kill you on its own. It’s not like heroin, MDMA, cocaine. Comparatively speaking, it is safe.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free to use. Indirectly, cannabis can cause significant problems.
The problem with cannabis, apart from the endless debate about whether it’s a gateway drug, is that it still has the potential for addiction, long-term changes in neurotransmitters in the body, and it can cause significant psychological problems.
Unfortunately, those are facts. It doesn’t matter how they are spun, the amount of people out there with long-term anxiety problems, paranoia, and mental health problems that have seen them institutionalized. On antidepressants because of cannabis use is significant.
That’s also getting more common because cannabis strains are getting stronger.
It’s not widely realized, but studies have shown that cannabis strains are generally far stronger than they were 30 years ago. One study, that looked at nearly 40,000 cannabis samples over 30 years, found that on average, the THC content had risen from 4% to an average of 12% now.
Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Explained
So as you can see, part of the problem is that people are comparing apples to oranges. They are talking about cannabis being historically safe, with this perception that it’s just a bit of weed and not a problem, but when it’s now on average three times stronger than it was 30 years ago, then we really aren’t even talking about the same drug any more.
Cannabis withdrawal symptoms are therefore going to be more prevalent because the strains are stronger.
These are the cannabis withdrawal symptoms that are mostly reported and observed:
- Behavioral problems
- Change in appetite
- Mood swings
- Clouded thinking and judgement
Put all that together, you can see why there’s a problem, especially in younger people with minds that aren’t fully developed, who are suddenly regularly smoking very strong cannabis that is packed full of THC.
What About Anxiety And Paranoia?
Anyone who’s ever known a chronic weed smoker will know anxiety, paranoia, and poor decision-making are common.
The more you smoke, the more you need the cannabis to trigger interaction with the cannabinoid receptors in your body.
When you don’t smoke it, you quickly get anxious, and then further withdrawal symptoms kick in like sweating and anger.
Prolonged cannabis use is definitely been linked to anxiety as well to paranoia. Again, if you’ve known a regular weed smoker, you will know how paranoia can manifest itself in very damaging ways.
Now that doesn’t mean everybody suffers from it, but let’s put it this way, I’ve known four chronic weed smokers in my life. All four of them had noticeable withdrawal problems after even a day without weed, and these were linked to an ongoing anxiety, and some really crazy thought processes. To suggest cannabis doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms, and doesn’t have mental health effects is just anecdotally wrong.
The Science Backs Up Cannabis Causing Problems And Long-Term Changes
Part of the problem is that it’s become clear that cannabis over time alters how the cannabinoid receptors in the body trigger.
Cannabis activates receptor sites in this endocannabinoid system, which are links to short-term memory, intoxication, appetite, mood, and psychomotor behavior.
So it stands to reason that high, frequent doses of powerful cannabis can trigger significant issues within this system. This leads to physical and psychological changes over time because it changes the receptors condition.
If cannabis is suddenly taken away, the receptors have to go back to normal, and the body has to adjust to this new reality, which can take time and cause significant withdrawal problems.
Let’s just take a look at one study from 2005, to show how it’s been known for quite some time that there are problems with cannabis use.
It was published in the journal of drug and alcohol dependence, and it studied 72 adolescents. They were already getting treatment for substance abuse, and they were using cannabis on at least 15 days per month, so pretty regular smokers.
Changes were noted during 45 days of the substance management program they were on. Significant withdrawal symptoms were noted, both physical and psychological. Things like sweating, nausea, headaches, mood swings, depression, lack of appetite, anger, and in several cases physical violence.
That’s just one study I’m quoting for you guys here, but there are literally hundreds out there now. It really is undeniable that cannabis withdrawal symptoms exist, and can be vicious in some regular smokers who are using the stronger strains.
How To Avoid Cannabis Withdrawal
Cannabis use is not all bad though. As long as you are responsible and don’t smoke it to excess, then it can have lots of benefits.
It’s a good natural medication that is having a significant positive impact on many people’s health, especially where physical pain is removed.
However, if you are smoking cannabis several times per day, then stopping is going to cause a problem.
Having said that, if you can take a break, you should. This will allow your body to manage the cannabinoid receptors itself, and give your body and mind a break. It will also make it one hell of a lot easier to pass a drug test!
The strategy for avoiding cannabis withdrawal is basically to make sure you taper down when you are thinking of stopping. If you’re only smoking moderately, then just tapering down over a week will be enough.
But if you are a chronic daily weed smoker, it can take two weeks or longer to taper down. Your strategy will be individual, but usually it’s around just smoking a little less weed in each joint, and then spacing out when you have the joints more and more.