Academics from Canada have analysed data about 23,000 cannabis users and concluded it’s actually much more addictive than previously thought.
They cite psychological and biological issues that are often overlooked when withdrawing from frequent usage. Specifically, they say anxiety, anger and depression as main problems from coming off the drug.
The researchers, from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario claim lobbyists around the world are fixed on the idea that cannabis is a non-addictive substance and therefore laws should be relaxed. The way they analysed the data was to take information from 47 different research papers to create a ‘meta analysis’ of cannabis and how easy it is to come off using the drug.
Their findings are that ‘cannabis withdrawal syndrome’ (CWS) affects almost half of regular cannabis users. The team defined a CWS sufferer as someone who has at least three major symptoms which develop within seven days of giving up the drug. ‘Because many CWS criteria are depression or anxiety symptoms, regular users may seek cannabis to obtain short-term symptom relief, unaware that this use could perpetuate a longer-term withdrawal problem,’ the team wrote.
These include irritability, anger, aggression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, restlessness, depression, headaches, sweating and nausea. Interestingly, the research doesn’t delve into the different types of cannabis and its many forms and uses. Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence of cannabis withdrawal symptom and should consider screening for it,’ the authors wrote in their paper. ‘Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence of CWS and should consider screening for CWS, particularly among those who are at greater risk, in order to counsel patients and support individuals who are reducing their use of cannabis.’ The team say that doctors should also seriously consider its use amongst those with existing mental health problems due to the fact depression can be a symptom of withdrawal syndrome. Meanwhile, some MPs believe cannabis could be legal in the UK within five years.