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Cannabis withdrawal symptoms common among adolescents treated for substance use disorder
Date:9/1/2014

views by study staff and completion of survey instruments analyzing factors related to substance use including whether or not they thought they might have a problem with drug use withdrawal symptoms, consequences in their lives attributable to substance use, and other psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses. Based on their answers, participants were divided into two groups those who reported cannabis withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, depression and difficulty sleeping and those who did not.

Of the 90 cannabis-using participants, 76 (84 percent) met criteria for cannabis dependence which include increased tolerance and use of cannabis, unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop using, and persistent use in spite of medical and psychological problems made worse by cannabis. Withdrawal symptoms were reported by 36 participants (40 percent of the overall group), all of whom also met criteria for dependence. At the study's outset, substance use was likely to be more severe and consequences such as missing work or school, financial and relationship problems tended to be greater in participants reporting withdrawal symptoms, who also were more likely to have mood disorders.

While the presence of withdrawal symptoms is a strong indicator of cannabis dependence, the authors note, it did not significantly impact the ability of participants to reduce their use of cannabis during the 12-month follow-up period. The factor that did appear to make a difference was whether or not an individual recognized having a problem with substance use upon entering the study. Participants who both reported withdrawal symptoms and recognized having a problem had a small but steady improvement in abstinence through the entire study period. Those who reported withdrawal symptoms but did not recognize a substance use problem had a slight increase in abstinence in the first 3 months, but then had some increase in cannabis use during the subsequent 9 months, a
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Contact: Noah Brown
nbrown9@partners.org
617-643-3907
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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