Study finds many medical marijuana users experience withdrawal

Many people report experiencing symptoms of withdrawal in-between use of medical marijuana, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Medicine. In addition, around 10-percent of the participants reported negative effects from the substance, including changes in things like energy levels, appetite, and sleep quality.

Medical marijuana is used for a variety of conditions, one of which is chronic pain. Many users have reported success with giving up narcotic painkillers and replacing them with medical marijuana products, stating no or few side effects from the regular use. However, many of these people may experience withdrawal symptoms between use, according to the new study.

The findings were recently published in the journal Addiction, with researchers noting that some medical marijuana users may not recognize the symptoms of withdrawal, instead mistaking them as part of their health condition. Failing to recognize the symptoms may put the user at greater risk of developing a dependency on medical marijuana called cannabis use disorder.

The study was based on survey data collected from medical marijuana users in Michigan over the course of two years. None of the patients were using marijuana for cancer-related pain, the study notes, and the researchers say that 'some people report experiencing significant benefits' from the substance.

Despite that, long-term use of medical marijuana was linked to withdrawal symptoms in more than half of patients. Experiences can include a general craving for the substance, as well as things like irritability and aggression, depression, lowered appetite, stomach pain, sweating, shakiness, unusual dreams, an increase in anger, and more.

When splitting the marijuana users into different withdrawal severity categories, it was found that sleep issues were the most commonly reported across all three groups. The researchers explain that patients who mistake withdrawal symptoms as part of their health condition may increase their use of medical marijuana, potentially making it harder to stop using the drug in the future.