Marijuana Withdrawal Among Emerging Adults Receiving Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Treatments
Method.Young adults (ages 18-25; N=343) were eligible for this study if they used marijuana in the past year, met cannabis abuse or dependence criteria, and reported a past week quit attempt. We examined the prevalence of each of the 22 withdrawal symptoms included on the Current Withdrawal Scale (CWS; a =0.85). We used stepwise regression to predict CWS scores with the following variables in ascending order, including: gender, past 90 day marijuana use, marijuana dependence diagnosis an interaction variable between marijuana dependence and days of use, emotional problem scale, general mental health distress scale, and health problems scale.
Results. On average, young adult marijuana users reported 2.93 (SD = 3.6) past week withdrawal symptoms, with those with marijuana dependence reporting a higher (M = 3.4, SD =3.6) average. The most commonly endorsed withdrawal symptoms were feeling tired (31.6%),having trouble sleeping (29.6%), and forget things or have problems remembering (24.3%). The most infrequently endorsed symptoms were having convulsions (0.6 %), having a fever (0.9%), and having diarrhea (2.1%). Past 90 day marijuana use (df=3, 336, β=0.18, 95% CI = .008-.029 p=0.001), and past year mental health symptoms (df=3, 336, β=0.352, 95% CI= .282-.482, p=0.000) were both significant predictors (R2=.289) of CWS scores. Past year mental health symptoms partially mediated the association between past 90 day use and withdrawal symptoms.
Conclusion: It appears that marijuana withdrawal symptoms are common among past year marijuana users, but most (87.7%) report that these symptoms do not interfere with daily living activities. As mental health symptoms accounted for more variance in withdrawal symptoms than recent substance use, it is unclear whether a marijuana-specific withdrawal syndrome existed for this sample. Alternatively, these findings may signal problems with how we measure withdrawal among marijuana users. Additional research is needed that addresses this study’s limitations.