Cannabis withdrawal management
Symptoms are variable and may not relate to the quantity smoked or duration of use. Most common symptoms comprise:
- anxiety, restlessness, irritability
- anorexia (and weight loss)
- disturbed sleep and vivid dreams
- gastrointestinal tract symptoms (for example, abdominal pain)
- night sweats
Symptoms may last one to two weeks
There are no significant complications of withdrawal that would necessitate inpatient treatment.
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
ADIS is a telephone information, counselling, and referral service.
DACAS provides a telephone and email service for South Australian health professionals seeking clinical information and clarification around clinical procedures, guidelines and evidence-based practice.
Telephone: (08) 7087 1742 from 8.30 am to 10.00 pm 7 days/week including public holidays or email your enquiry to: HealthDACASEnquiries@sa.gov.au.
This service does not provide proxy medical cover and cannot assume responsibility for direct patient care.