Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marijuana Withdrawal Syndrome: A Bibliography

Selected science references.

The idea of marijuana addiction and withdrawal remains controversial in both private and scientific circles. For an unlucky few, a well-identified set of symptoms characterizes abstinence from heavy, daily use of pot. In this respect, marijuana addiction and withdrawal does not differ greatly from alcoholism--the vast majority of recreational users and drinkers will never experience it.

For those that do, however, the withdrawal symptoms of marijuana abstinence can severely impact their quality of life. Since discussions of this topic frequently veer off into sociopolitical arguments, leaving the science behind, I offer below a sampling of the growing medical and psychiatric literature on this aspect of drug use and abuse.

For additional comments and discussions about symptoms, see Marijuana Withdrawal.


Aharonovich, E., Liu, X., Samet, S., Nunes, E., Waxman, R., & Hasin, D. (2005). Postdischarge Cannabis Use and Its Relationship to Cocaine, Alcohol, and Heroin Use: A Prospective Study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(8), 1507-1514.

Budney, Alan J., Hughes, J.R., Moore, B.A., & Vandrey, R. (2004, November). Review of the Validity and Significance of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1967-1977.

Budney, A.J., Moore, B.A., Vandrey, R., Hughes, J.R. (2003). The time course and significance of cannabis withdrawal. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 393-402.

Budney, A.J., Hughes, J.R., Moore, B.A., & Novy, P.L. (2001). Marijuana Abstinence Effects in Marijuana Smokers Maintained in Their Home Environment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58(10), 917-924.

Budney A. J., Novy P. L., & Hughes, J. R. (1999, September 1). Marijuana withdrawal among adults seeking treatment for marijuana dependence. Addiction, 94, 1311-1322.

Copeland, J., Swift, W., & Rees, V. (2001 January). Clinical profile of participants in a brief intervention program for cannabis use disorder. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 20(1), 45-52.

Cui, S.S., Gu, G.B., Hannesson, D.K., Yu, P.H., & Zhang, X. (2001, December 15). Prevention of cannabinoid withdrawal syndrome by lithium: involvement of oxytocinergic neuronal activation. Journal of Neuroscience, 21(24), 9867-9876.

de Fonseca, F.R., Rocío, M., Carrera, A., Navarro, M., Koob, G.F., & Weiss, F. (1997, June 27). Activation of Corticotropin-Releasing Factor in the Limbic System During Cannabinoid Withdrawal. Science, 276, 2050 - 2054.

Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k6NSDUH/2k6results.cfm#Ch2

Fackelmann, K.A. (1993, February 6). Marijuana and the brain: scientists discover the brain's own THC-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Science News.

Hall, W., Solowij, N., & Lemon, J. (1999). The health and psychological consequences of cannabis use. (National Task Force on Cannabis Australia, Monograph Series No. 25). Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
Haney, M., Hart, C.L., Vosburg, S.K., Nasser, J., Bennetti, A., Zubaran, C., et. al. (2004). Marijuana Withdrawal in Humans: Effects of Oral THC or Divalproex. Neuropsychopharmacology, 29, 158–170.

Haney, M., Hart, Carl L., Ward, Amie S., & Foltin, R. W. (2003, January). Nefazodone decreases anxiety during marijuana withdrawal in humans. Psychopharmacology, 165(2), 157-165.

Haney, M., Ward, A.S., Comer, S.D., Foltin, R.W., & Fischman, M.W. (1999, February). Abstinence symptoms following smoked marijuana in humans. Psychopharmacology, 141(4), 395-404.

Jones, R.T., Benowitz, N.L., & Herning, R.I. (1981, August-September). Clinical relevance of cannabis tolerance and dependence. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 8-9 Suppl., 143-152.

Joy, J.E., Watson, S.J.,Benson, J.A. (1999). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. p.92. Institute of Medicine, Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health. Washington. D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from

Kouri, E.M., & Pope, H.G., Jr. (2000, November). Abstinence symptoms during withdrawal from chronic marijuana use. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 8(4), 483-492.

Kouri, E.M. (2002, February 1). Does Marijuana Withdrawal Syndrome Exist? Psychiatric Times, 19(2).

Lichtman, A.H., and Martin, B.R. (2002). Marijuana Withdrawal Syndrome in the Animal Model. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 42, 20s-27s.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (1999, April 20). Chronic Marijuana Users Become Aggressive During Withdrawal. NIDA News Release. Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Schuckit, M.A., Daeppen, J-B., Danko, G.P., Tripp, M.L., Li, T-K., Hesselbrock, V.M., et. al. (1999). Clinical implications for four drugs of the DSM-IV distinction between substance dependence with and without a physiological component. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 41-49.

Scripps given $4M grant to study effects of marijuana. (2008, March 15). North County Times.

Somers, T. (2008, March 14). Study aims to clear haze surrounding pot addiction. San Diego Union-Tribune.

Tanda, G., Pontieri, F.E., & Di Chiara, G. (1997, June 27). Cannabinoid and Heroin Activation of Mesolimbic Dopamine Transmission by a Common µ1 Opioid Receptor Mechanism. Science, 276, 2048 - 2050.

Vandrey, R.G., Budney, A.J., Hughes, J.R., & A. Liguori. (2008, January 1). A within-subject comparison of withdrawal symptoms during abstinence from cannabis, tobacco, and both substances. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 92, 48-54.

Wickelgren, I. (1997, June 27). Marijuana: Harder Than Thought? Science, 76, 1967-1968.

Wilson, R.I. & Nicoll, R.A. (2001, March 29). Endogenous cannabinoids mediate retrograde signalling at hippocampal synapses. Nature, 410, 588-592.

Zickler, P. (2002, October 17). Study Demonstrates That Marijuana Smokers Experience Significant Withdrawal. NIDA Notes, 17(3). Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Anonymous said...

The cold hard fact: Marijuana has the third highest rate of dependence in the US (after heroin and crack). We recently wrote on this issue at Brain Blogger. I would like to hear your comments on our article. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Easily I agree but I think the brief should have more info then it has.

Anonymous said...

good points and the details are more precise than elsewhere, thanks.

- Thomas

Pearlie Guerrier said...

I agree with this statement - marijuana addiction and withdrawal does not differ greatly from alcoholism. This I know from experience having a few people who are close to me that are heavy drinkers and pot heads. The lows that they get affect them badly. We cannot deny that there are withdrawal symptoms for such dependence and substance abuse.

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