The more a person smokes marijuana, the more severe their functional impairment during withdrawal, the study found.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales studied a group of 49 marijuana users who were diagnosed as dependent on cannabis. They recorded the impairment the pot smokers faced during a two-week period of abstinence. They also recorded the subjects' level of marijuana use one month later.
Symptoms Can Cause Relapse
Lead researcher David Allsop found that in the more dependent users certain withdrawal symptoms were more likely to cause relapse than others. Those symptoms included sleep problems, anxiety, depression, mood swings, physical tension and loss of appetite.
Other symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and fatigue were less likely to cause relapse.
Other studies have found that marijuana withdrawals were significant enough to cause relapse, but the Allsop study also found that withdrawal from cannabis can be severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Allsop suggests that strategies to treat marijuana users trying to quit should focus on those withdrawal symptoms most likely to cause relapse.
"Tailoring treatments to target withdrawal symptoms contributing to functional impairment during a quit attempt may improve treatment outcomes" says Allsop.
Take the Quiz
What happens when you quit smoking marijuana? Do you have withdrawal symptoms? How severe are they? Take the Marijuana Withdrawal Quiz.
Source: Allsop DJ, et al. "Quantifying the Clinical Significance of Cannabis Withdrawal." PLOS ONE 26 September 2012.
More About Marijuana Withdrawal: