Cannabis withdrawal sounds scary, but the reality is more annoying than anything else. Like missing out on your morning coffee, quitting weed can make you feel on-edge and anxious, longing for a quick fix. Other drugs like alcohol and opioids have far worse withdrawal symptoms than cannabis. Symptoms that can be relieved, in fact, by cannabis!
Exploring the connection between cannabis and withdrawals can be tricky. Little research has been done on the subject, and what is available is often contradictory. On one hand, weed can be a useful tool when it comes to managing a lot of withdrawal symptoms. On the other, it's entirely possible to develop a dependence on cannabis itself, and that comes with its own set of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
So, is cannabis good or bad for dealing with withdrawals? The answer, of course, varies depending on the drugs (and person) in question.
Cannabis and Withdrawal Symptoms From Other Drugs – Can Weed Help?
Drug withdrawal symptoms can be nasty. Very nasty. But is cannabis really the best thing to help get you through the worst of drug withdrawals? Very possibly! Cannabis is renowned for its medicinal value, especially products high in CBD. CBD is commonly used to treat pain, anxiety, nausea, appetite loss, and insomnia, all of which are symptoms associated with drug withdrawal.
While cannabis seems to come perfectly equipped to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, the research is still inconclusive as to whether it helps more, or possibly hinders. Some researchers believe that, as addiction is largely psychological, fighting a drug dependence with drug dependence isn't the best idea. This may hold true psychologically (or even philosophically), but the reality is that detoxing from drugs causes physical pain that cannabis can alleviate.
So, is it better to live through the pain for true sobriety, or ease the edge of withdrawals with a little bit of cannabis? It may be more about morality than medicine. Let's take a closer look at how cannabis may help common types of drug withdrawals:
- Alcohol: Everybody probably knows someone who suffers from addiction to alcohol. It's common, and why wouldn't it be? Alcohol is legal, easy to buy (in most places), and fun if used in moderation! The problem isn't moderation though, but with the people who take alcohol to the excess by becoming alcoholics. Cannabis is a decidedly healthier vice than alcohol and can be used to fight many of the side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Replacing alcoholic beverages with weed may be just the thing to kick the habit. So instead of wine or beer when you get home from work, consider smoking a frosty nug of weed instead!
- Opioids: Opioids are highly addictive painkillers that physicians prescribe to patients experiencing chronic pain. Though they are effective in eliminating patients' discomfort, opioids also come with an incredibly high rate of addiction. Compared to cannabis, a drug with low addiction rates that also relieves pain, opioids are downright dangerous. According to a study done by JAMA Internal Medicine, fatal opioid overdoses decreased by 33 percent in states that, six years previous, legalized medical marijuana. If those numbers aren't convincing enough, then what is?
- Tobacco: Even with tobacco use hitting an all-time low, it's still worth observing that cannabis is a fantastic substitute for those trying to quit nicotine. The similar nature of the two vices makes it easy (or easier, I suppose) to quit tobacco for good. While cannabis does lack the addictive substances often found in tobacco products, it still provides a good distraction. A joint is just as relaxing as a cigarette, but with none of the nicotine. And you can still make smoke rings, too!
Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS):
Maybe you're just quitting cannabis temporarily, maybe it's for good. Either way, you're going to experience some withdrawals. As benign as cannabis usually is, the fact remains that it is still a drug and can still cause dependence if used often enough.
Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome, also known as CWS, occurs when a cannabis consumer becomes dependent on using weed. While cannabis is nowhere near as addictive as other drugs, it is still possible to develop a psychological dependence after prolonged use. This happens when the brain becomes accustomed to a constant influx of cannabis. Cannabis withdrawals occur, not because weed is physically addictive, but because the brain isn't used to working without it.
Cannabis withdrawal symptoms should occur within a couple of days without consuming weed and may last anywhere from a few days and up to an entire month. Symptoms include increased levels of anxiousness, irritability, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and a decrease in appetite. Many people have also reported experiencing vivid dreams (and nightmares) after quitting cannabis, which further disrupts sleep.
Is Combining Cannabis and Withdrawals Worth the Risk?
When you consider the pros and cons of using cannabis to manage withdrawal symptoms, the pros win. Not only can weed counteract the majority of withdrawal side effects, it also provides a segue into sobriety. Even if you were to develop a dependence on cannabis itself, the withdrawals are far less severe than most other addictive substances.
No, you can't be considered sober if you smoke weed to manage drug withdrawals. But what matters more, beating addiction or staying sober? In this case, it may be better to take help (or cannabis) where you can find it. Don't worry about detoxing from cannabis – you can cross that bridge when you come to it!