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. The findings also indicated that about 10 percent 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.
“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,” said lead researcher Lara Coughlin from the University of Michigan.
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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, the researcher said.
For the study, published in the journal Addiction, the team involved 527 participants. 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. 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. 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, the researcher said. (IANS)