Getting Off Of Cannabis

Most people have little trouble stopping the use of cannabis and experience little if any discomfort from the process. Most of the information below applies to long term heavy users or to individuals with related co-morbidities (other health problems).

Addiction. 8% of users develop problems associated with cannabis and continue to use it. As with other substances, some people become dependent in order to correct or balance a pathology. Cannabis does not cause physical dependence (like heroin), but psychological dependence (addiction) is possible. The most closely related substance is coffee. If you have used coffee for many years and suddenly you can’t get any, you aren’t likely to be very happy. Your work, sleep and play patterns will most likely be impacted and you won’t feel all that great.  About two weeks later, though, things should normalize. This is basically the story with cannabis. Since THC is a fat soluble substance, the body will slowly release its stores of it after discontinuation. Heavy users and/or very sensitive users may experience predictable symptoms in about 24-48hr. These may worsen over the fist week then start diminishing during the second week. Most users, however, experience little to no withdrawal symptoms (that fat soluble slow release thing). After two weeks the vast majority of users are free from any cannabis-related symtomology. There shouldn’t be any exogenous cannabis left in your system after a month, and all physiology should be as it was prior to cannabis use (unless we are talking about decades of use and/or extremely young or old users).

Here is a Huffingtonpost article that disputes the validity of the claim that cannabis addition is as high as 9%. Another article that deeply challenges the notion that chemistry is factor and it explores likely social cause HERE.

Reported withdrawal symptoms include: irritability /anger, sadness, headache, anxiety, sleep disturbance, craving, restlessness, decreased appetite, depression, chills, stomach pain, shakiness and sweating.

Addictive personality and public health. About 12% of the human population has the personality trait know as the addictive personality. People with this trait are genetically predisposed to addiction, regardless of whether it is a substance or an activity. This is why the approach of attempting to restrict access (e.g., the war on drugs) has such an unsuccessful history.  People with this trait can learn psychological and behavioral approaches to notice their addictive behavior when it starts and get help (intervention) before it becomes a compulsive habit. This is how drug addition is handled in many European countries. Instead of the police incarcerating addicts, public health professionals intervene and offer support. Whatever political or social beliefs you may hold, the facts are irrefutable.  Portugal radically decriminalized cannabis and all illegal drug use in 2001 (even cocaine, crystal meth, MDMA  & heroin).  In that country health care professionals now manage drug problems. Today Portugal boasts some of the lowest recreational drug use rates, even among teenagers. The old Reefer Madness movies were just that: madness.

Alternative approaches. Acupuncturist Jost Sauer has written a very innovative book with refreshing guidance for illicit drug users called Drug Repair That Works. His book describes how to strategize and get prepared to quit. It explains how to accept the lows from getting off of drugs and explores a completely different process from the 12 step approach. This process acknowledges the realities of the benefits of doing drugs without pretending that it is wrong to do them for recreation or reward. The book explains how to harness the expected lows and cravings into a new motivation and direction that ultimately has the potential for personal gratification and transformation without using substances.  It explores filling emotional and spiritual holes in life. It also discuses nutritional and physical support concepts.

Some of his suggestions include: Find activities that feed who you are because doing nothing after doing drugs is a recipe for doing drugs again. Avoid aimless drifting and instead over-structure and plan your post-drug-use life until a new lifestyle emerges with profound personal purpose.

If your early experiences with cannabis where that if made you feel normal rather than magical and happy, this could be a sign of a deficiency of endocannabinoids. From a western perspective this could possibly be a disturbance in your internal endocannabinoid system (CB 1 & 2 receptors). People with an inherent deficiency of the bodies own naturally occurring cannabinoids will usually feel normal from cannabis rather than high from it.  In Eastern medicine this could be interpreted as a deficiency of Yin.