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Hash Withdrawal Symptoms, Effects, and Timeline

Clear container of hash
“Hash,” which is short for hashish, is a more potent form of the Cannabis sativa plant, which is also used to make marijuana.1 The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals.2 Both hash and marijuana can be smoked, vaporized, or cooked in food. 1

Detox Is the First Step

Man thinking about detox in bed covers face Addicts who are ready to begin the recovery process from drug and alcohol addiction usually must undergo detox, or medical detoxification, as the first step.

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Recent reports suggest that 30% of marijuana users meet the criteria for diagnosis of a marijuana use disorder—in other words, a marijuana addiction.3 Heavy users develop tolerance and dependence, meaning they need higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using.

Hash withdrawal symptoms include irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, diminished appetite, cravings, and/or various physical symptoms that gradually become more intense during the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks.3

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 50-95% of adults and adolescents enrolled in treatment or who are heavy cannabis users report cannabis withdrawal.5

Symptoms and Effects

Stressed woman experiences hash withdrawal symptomsWhen a person who is dependent stops taking hash, they will begin to experience withdrawal. Hash withdrawal effects are not life-threatening and usually do not require medical attention.5 But they can still be uncomfortable.

The symptoms are mainly psychological and are not as severe as withdrawal from other types of commonly abused drugs. Despite their relatively low severity, withdrawal often prompts people to continue to use or take other drugs to relieve the symptoms—in fact, relapse rates for cannabis are higher than for many other drugs of abuse.5,6

Signs and symptoms of withdrawal include but are not limited to:3,5

  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Drug craving.
  • Irritability.
  • Low appetite.
  • Unusual dreams or heightened activity during sleep.
  • Restlessness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Tremors.
  • Sweating.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Headache.

If these effects become too uncomfortable, a medically supervised detox may be able to lessen symptoms.

Timeline

The withdrawal for hash and marijuana begins within 24-72 hours of stopping use, usually peaks within the first week, and tapers off at approximately 2 weeks after the last ingestion of the drug. For some, sleep difficulties may last more than 30 days.5

The hash withdrawal timeline is unique to the individual and may not look the same for everyone. It is important to seek out resources for your specific situation.

Factors That Can Affect Withdrawal

Stressed man on couch feeling withdrawalThe frequency of use and potency of the drug can affect the duration and intensity of withdrawal. Compared to marijuana, hashish usually contains a higher concentration of THC, which is the most potent psychoactive cannabinoid. A typical marijuana cigarette (“joint”) contains only 0.5–5% THC. But hashish tends to contain 2–20%, with some estimates as high as 50%.1

Some other factors that may affect hash withdrawal include:

  • Severity of dependence or addiction.
  • Amount of use.
  • Length of use.
  • Co-occurring medical conditions.
  • Abuse of other drugs.

Withdrawal also tends to be more severe among adults, possibly because they use more often and in higher amounts.5

In addition, withdrawing from tobacco and hash at the same time can be more severe than coming off of either substance alone.6

Withdrawal can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

Cannabis withdrawal can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If a person was using hash to self-medicate a mental health condition, the symptoms of the condition could likely show up again when they quit, which can also lead to relapse.

Treatment is the best solution to prevent continued relapses. Whatever your situation may be, educate yourself about options to help you get through the withdrawal period and/or treat your addiction.

Read next: Hash Withdrawal Medications and Help

Sources

  1. Palamar, J. Lee, L., and Weitzman, M. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of hashish use in a national sample of high school seniors in the United States. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 41(3): 197-205.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Marijuana.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Is marijuana addictive?
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Commonly abused drugs chart.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
  6. Ries, R., Fiellin, D, Miller, S., and Saitz, R. (2014). The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Hash Withdrawal Medication and Help

Hashish, or hash, is a powerfully intoxicating form of the cannabis sativa plant, the same plant from which marijuana derives. Marijuana is typically composed of dried plant leaves and flowers, while hashish is produced by collecting the flower tops of female cannabis plants, which are the most potent parts of the plant. Hash generally contains a higher percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient.7

In the past, experts debated whether hash and marijuana users experienced a withdrawal syndrome. But many now believe that heavy cannabis users experience acute withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking.2

Hash withdrawal is not life-threatening and usually does not cause any medical complications.2 However, people who choose to detox at home may be at increased risk of relapse. Medications and expert treatment can lessen the severity of symptoms and help users who have problems quitting maintain abstinence.

Treatment for Hash Withdrawal

Hash withdrawal treatment may include medications for sleep, anxiety, depression, and pain. No medications are officially approved to treat cannabis withdrawal, though research is ongoing.3

A professional detox center may use medications such as:

  • Trazodone. This medication can help with any withdrawal-associated insomnia.
  • Buspirone. This drug, which is less habit-forming than benzodiazepines, is used to treat symptoms of anxiety.
  • Antidepressants. These medications may be used for significant clinical depression and/or suicidal ideation.2

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing, have shown promise in treating marijuana addiction.

Small clinical studies have investigated the use of other medications to treat cannabis withdrawal. These include:

  • Synthetic oral THC. A small dose of oral THC has successfully suppressed withdrawal symptoms in some patients.1
  • Zolpidem (Ambien). This drug may improve the disrupted sleep patterns sometimes associated with withdrawal.3
  • Gabapentin. This anti-epileptic drug may improve sleep and cognitive function/impulse control issues.3

Another major benefit of detox programs is that medical professionals can monitor the person for any complications and treat any troublesome symptoms as they develop.

After detox, finding a long-term addiction rehab program that uses evidence-based therapy can help a recovering user achieve sustained sobriety. Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing, have shown promise in treating marijuana addiction.3 Programs are available in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Types of Programs

Hash withdrawal help can be found in several different places.

Detox centers manage acute withdrawal symptoms and can administer hash withdrawal medicines. However, programs that deal strictly with detox are not the same as rehab centers and do not provide comprehensive addiction treatment.

Inpatient treatment programs work well for people that do not have a sober support system at home, are struggling with mental health or medical problems, or have relapsed. These programs often include comprehensive substance abuse treatment in addition to detox support. Many also offer dual diagnosis treatment for comorbid mental health issues.

group of people sitting together during therapy sessionOutpatient treatment programs are a more affordable option for people seeking comprehensive addiction treatment. Patients live at home, but attend the treatment program for a specified number of hours per week.

Since hash withdrawal symptoms are not severe, some people may be able to detox and receive therapy for addiction on an outpatient basis. However, the person is still regularly exposed to triggers and may come in contact with people they used hash with, increasing the risk of relapse.

The right treatment for you or your loved one will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The presence of mental health issues.
  • Physical health and medical problems.
  • Whether you are abusing other substances.
  • How long you have been using hash.
  • The cost of treatment and your insurance coverage.
  • Your sober support system at home and the presence of triggers.
  • Your risk of relapsing at home.

Relapsing and Other Concerns

One of the biggest risks of withdrawal is relapse due to the uncomfortableness of the symptoms. One study found that 61-96% of respondents reported using marijuana to relieve withdrawal symptoms.6

Many users also abuse other drugs, with 74% of those in treatment for cannabis addiction reporting use of other substances such as alcohol and cocaine. 4 In some cases, they may use these drugs to self-medicate the symptoms of withdrawal, which can lead to further substance abuse.

People seeking treatment for heroin or cocaine addiction often consider their marijuana abuse unproblematic, but this is a dangerous assumption. Continuing to abuse hash after quitting another substance leads many people to relapse on that other substance. Relapses can be avoided by seeking treatment for all substance abuse issues at the same time.

Many people who abuse hash also struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. 4 A successful treatment program will treat both the substance abuse and mental health issues at the same time. If the underlying causes of addiction are not addressed in treatment, then relapse is likely.

Detoxing at Home

However you choose to deal with withdrawal, remember that detox is not addiction treatment.

Not everyone chooses to seek hash withdrawal help. Because there are no serious medical complications, people often detox at home. Over-the-counter medications can be used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, such as Tylenol for pain or Benadryl for sleep.

However, detoxing at home can be risky because you remain exposed to all your usual triggers, such as friends and activities commonly associated with using hash. Additionally, many people have been knowingly or unknowingly masking a serious mental health condition with their hash use. If this is the case, symptoms of the disorder may arise during or after detox.

However you choose to deal with withdrawal, remember that detox is not addiction treatment. It is only the process of getting hash out of your body to provide the initial break with the cycle of dependence. It does not treat the addiction or the conditions and behaviors that contributed to it.

Long-term sobriety takes work. Many detox programs offer therapy or will help transition you into a long-term addiction treatment program. This will decrease your risk of relapse and help you build the foundation for a sober life.

Read next: Hash Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Effects

Sources

  1. Budney, A.J., Roffman, R., Stephens, R.S., & Walker, D. (2007). Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 4(1), 4–16.
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment: Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45, 66-75.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders.
  4. American Psychiatric Association. (2013).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). DrugFacts: Marijuana.
  6. Haney, M. (2005). The marijuana withdrawal syndrome: diagnosis and treatment. Current Psychiatry Reports 7(5).
  7. Columbia University: Go Ask Alice! (2015). Difference between pot and hash.
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