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Marijuana Withdrawal Proves Common Among Teens

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the adolescent community.

Most parents spend a good deal of time worrying about their teenage children, especially when it comes to drugs. In addition to alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the adolescent community. And once teenagers become addicted, they're likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Teenage Withdrawal

A new study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine reveals that cannabis withdrawal is common among teenage addicts. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) evaluated a total of 127 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 19. Out of the 127 participants, 90 listed marijuana as their drug of choice. For a period of 12-months, the 90 cannabis addicts and 37 non-addicts were asked to discuss their views on pot, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and consequences of abusing the drug. Results of the research revealed that the group was equally divided: one displayed withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, depression, and difficulty sleeping; the other group displayed no withdrawal symptoms at all. "Our results are timely, given the changing attitudes and perceptions of risk related to cannabis use in the U.S.," said Dr. John Kelly of the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine and senior author of the study. "As more people are able to obtain and consume cannabis legally for medical and, in some states, recreational use, people are less likely to perceive it as addictive or harmful. But research shows that cannabis use can have significant consequences, and we know that among adolescents it is second only to alcohol in rates of misuse."

Details of the Study

Marijuana addiction is defined by using established criteria, which includes increased tolerance and use, unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop using, and continued use regardless of resulting problems. Out of the 90 marijuana-using teens, 84 percent met the criteria for "addiction." The researchers went on to hypothesize that continued abuse of marijuana would eventually lead to severe consequences, such as missing school or work, financial turmoil, and relationship problems. What's more, Dr. Kelly and his team found these consequences were greater in participants who reported withdrawal symptoms.

The First Step is Essential

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have an addiction and the MGH study is a perfect example of that process. Teenagers who reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms and admitted they were addicted to marijuana were successful in improving abstinence during the 12-month study. However, those who refused to acknowledge struggling with marijuana addiction were unable to abstain from using the drug. Unfortunately, the general trend in attitudes in the U.S. is to minimize the risks and not recognize the addictiveness of cannabis," Kelly concluded.

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