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Cannabis withdrawal management

Withdrawal syndrome

Symptoms are variable and may not relate to the quantity smoked or duration of use. Most common symptoms comprise:

  • craving
  • anxiety, restlessness, irritability
  • anorexia (and weight loss)
  • disturbed sleep and vivid dreams
  • gastrointestinal tract symptoms (eg abdominal pain)
  • night sweats
  • tremor.

Symptoms may last one to two weeks

There are no significant complications of withdrawal that would necessitate inpatient treatment.

Medication regimes

No specific medications have been demonstrated to be effective in cannabis withdrawal. If prescribed at all, short-term symptomatic medications may be useful.

This may include:

  • Diazepam 5 to 10mg QID prn for a maximum of seven to 10 days
  • Metoclopramide 10 to 20mg TDS prn for nausea
  • Simple analgesia (for example paracetamol).

Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia uses olanzapine 2.5 to 5mg BD prn for seven to 10 days for agitation that is not relieved by diazepam.

Psychotic symptoms should be managed with an antipsychotic medication such as olanzapine or risperidone for up to two weeks. If the symptoms are severe or persistent for longer than this, psychiatric assistance should be sought.

Sleep disturbance can persist for several weeks. The person should be re-assured. The sleep disturbance should be managed without medications. The Insomnia management kit can be used to assist in the assessment, diagnosis and management of patients presenting with a sleep problem.

Further information and advice

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) 1300 13 1340
ADIS is a telephone information, counselling, and referral service.

Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS)
DACAS provides general practitioners and other health professionals direct telephone access to a specialist drug and alcohol medical officer.
Telephone: (08) 7087 1742

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