Authorities are legalizing cannabis, particularly for medicinal use, in an increasing number of states. Many people stand by its alleged benefits, but new research warns that frequent use may lead to the “disabling” symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

A recent study — led by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, both in New York City, NY — set out to investigate what percentage of people who frequently use cannabis may experience cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

This condition is included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published in 2013.

According to the DSM-5, a formerly frequent user of the drug has cannabis withdrawal syndrome when they experience at least three of the following symptoms within a week from cessation:

  • irritability or hostility
  • nervousness or anxiety
  • poor sleep
  • loss of appetite
  • restlessness
  • feelings of depression
  • shakiness or tremors
  • sweating
  • fever
  • headaches

“In a rapidly changing landscape of marijuana laws and attitudes,” notes study author Prof. Deborah Hasin, “cannabis use continues to increase among American adults.”

“As a result,” she adds, “more information on the prevalence and correlates of clinical withdrawal in the general population is of critical importance.”

Withdrawal linked with psychiatric disorders

The researchers started from interviews with 36,309 participants who registered for the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, a national survey that takes into consideration clinically diagnosed cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

For the study analysis, the investigators used data collected from 1,527 participants who identified as frequent cannabis users. This means that they used cannabis at least three times per week for 12 months before they took part in the interview.


Categorized in: