According to a recent study conducted by David Gorelick, MD, Ph D., of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, and colleagues at a recent American Psychiatric Association meeting, withdraw from marijuana appears to be the real deal. According to the study, approximately one third of marijuana users who made real efforts to quit the drug failed because of withdraw symptoms. The study confirms several smaller studies on the subject. According to Dr. Gorelick, “I think the consensus now is that there is a cannabis withdrawal syndrome… this warrants attention during treatment of cannabis dependence.” Dr. Gorelick also mentioned that while cannabis withdraw was not included in the DSM-IV the next version would be inclusive of it. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:
The findings came from questionnaires administered to 469 self-reported marijuana users 18 to 64 years old from the Baltimore area, who were recruited by advertisements and word of mouth.
About 28% reported more than 10,000 lifetime uses of marijuana, the equivalent of once-daily use for 27 years. More than half the sample reported at least 2,000 lifetime uses.
“We get the picture that these were heavier users,” Dr. Gorelick said.
Some 90.6% had at least three dependence criteria as defined in DSM-IV’s section on general substance dependence.
Fewer than half — 42.4% — said they had experienced withdrawal symptoms when they tried to quit.
Among those that did, reported symptoms were both physical and psychological, Dr. Gorelick said.
Pastoral Action Point: A worth mentioning point that I draw out from this study is that marijuana, which has typically been thought of as the lesser of evils within the world of illegal drugs by its users, has equally serious dangers connected with it. The confirmation of a withdraw syndrome associated with marijuana could make the brash enthusiast think twice about exploring the drug. It may be worth bringing up the addictive properties of cannabis during an appropriate church venue.