Frequent users of cannabis may have 'disabling' withdrawal symptoms, researchers warn.
This condition is included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published in 2013.
According to the DSM-5, a formerly frequent user of the drug has cannabis withdrawal syndrome when they experience at least three of the following symptoms within a week from cessation:
Withdrawal linked with psychiatric disorders
The researchers started from interviews with 36,309 participants who registered for the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, a national survey that takes into consideration clinically diagnosed cannabis withdrawal syndrome.
For the study analysis, the investigators used data collected from 1,527 participants who identified as frequent cannabis users. This means that they used cannabis at least three times per week for 12 months before they took part in the interview.
These aims and outcomes are well intended, and they have been beneficial in some contexts, but the narrow focus of the disease model on the neurobiologic substrates of addiction has diverted attention (and research funding) from other models.10 Alternatives to the brain disease model often highlight the social and environmental factors that contribute to addiction, as well as the learning processes that translate these factors into negative outcomes.11-15 For example, it has been shown repeatedly that adverse experiences in childhood and adolescence increase the probability of later addiction.13,14 Also, exposure to physical, economic, or psychological trauma greatly increases susceptibility to addiction.14-17 Learning models propose that addiction, though obviously disadvantageous, is a natural, context-sensitive response to challenging environmental contingencies, not a disease.
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