Cannabis withdrawal clinically significant in schizophrenia

Published on November 15, 2012 at 9:15 AM · 5 Comments

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms are clinically significant in schizophrenia patients as they are often associated with behavioral change, say researchers.

David Gorelick (National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) and team found that most cannabis-using schizophrenia patients report a variety of withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit the drug.

"More research is needed to evaluate the effects of cannabis in people with schizophrenia and how withdrawal symptoms affect psychosis, relapse to cannabis use, and quality of life," they write in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

All 120 participants (76.7% men), who were aged at least 18 years, used cannabis on at least a weekly basis before their quit attempt. Of these, 16.7% met putative DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse and 81.7% met criteria for cannabis dependence.

The 176-item Marijuana Quit Questionnaire (MJQQ) was used to assess all of the participants for withdrawal symptoms during an index quit attempt.

The team found that 94.2% of the participants reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms, with 74.2% reporting four or more symptoms.

The most common symptom was cannabis cravings (59.2%), followed by feeling anxious (52.6%), feeling bored (47.5%), feeling sad or depressed (45.8%), feeling irritable or jumpy (45.0%), feeling restless (43.3%), and difficulty falling asleep (33.3%).

There was a significant positive association between total number of withdrawal symptoms and the mean number of joints smoked on each occasion during the month prior to the quit attempt, the researchers note.

Overall, 92.0% of participants took some action to relieve at least one of their withdrawal symptoms, with 23.0% resuming cannabis use.

Almost two-thirds (63.3%) of patients relapsed after their index quit attempt, with a median time to relapse of 182 days.

Gorelick et al conclude: "These [cannabis] withdrawal symptoms warrant clinical attention because they are often associated with clinically significant behavior change, including relapse to cannabis use and increased tobacco use.

"Thus, our findings suggest that cannabis withdrawal is a clinically significant feature of cannabis use among people with schizophrenia, as it is among those without serious psychiatric illness, and deserves greater attention in treatment and research."

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Comments
  1. Calum Calum United Kingdom says:

    not too sure where they find these subjects.. or how they get these results. much appreciated if you could post the full paper?
    titles a tad misleading as well, if i stop smoking it do i get schizophrenic?
    time for the scientific world to change its tactic on researching such things, such results can only be a resultant of bad methodology.

  2. Guillaume Mercier Guillaume Mercier United Kingdom says:

    This article is poorly written. It certainly makes me doubt the veracity of the content.

    What does the title 'Cannabis withdrawal clinically significant in schizophrenia' mean?

    Schizophrenia is a noun regarding the mental condition (whereas it sounds like the author meant people suffering from schizophrenia), so is this mental state associated with withdrawing from cannabis? If I want to quit cannabis, would it help if I became schizophrenic? Haha

    I like to drink a coffee every morning when I wake up. If I don't have coffee in the morning, I suffer from withdrawal symptoms. My most common coffee withdrawal symptoms are cravings (59.2%), feeling anxious (52.6%), feeling bored (47.5%), feeling sad or depressed (45.8%), feeling irritable or jumpy (45.0%), and feeling restless (43.3%).

    Perhaps in some very rare instances cannabis consumption can lead to schizophrenia, but alcohol which is legal is far more likely to lead a substance abuser to mental problems. And the world has countless millions of casual cannabis users who will never ever develop mental problems.

  3. Salt Salt United Kingdom says:

    Sounds like me when I've gone about 4 hours without a cup of coffee...

  4. Frank Frank United Kingdom says:

    "Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy... and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with 'scientific support'... fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others... The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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