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General overview

Marijuana, or cannabis, is a flowering plant which has been used for recreational purposes to elicit the psychoactive effects of relaxation and euphoria, as well being used for medicinal purposes in managing chronic, incurable pain due to conditions such as cancer.

There are side-effects caused by the active ingredient, called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which include anxiety, paranoia and memory impairment.

Chronic use of this drug has been shown to cause long-term issues such as suppression of the immune system (which can lead to an increased chance of contracting infections), reduction in testosterone levels, mood and personality changes as well as damage to lung and brain cells.

Withdrawal from marijuana

The symptoms and signs experienced after stopping the use of marijuana depend a lot on the amount of the drug used and on how long the patient has been using it, too. These signs and symptoms can be both physical and psychological

The reason why some people will experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms longer than others is because of the way THC is absorbed by the body. Chronic and/or heavy use of marijuana results in absorption of THC in the fat tissue which takes longer to clear from the body, as opposed to a substance such as alcohol which is present in blood and is water soluble. This means that THC can remain in the body for up to a few months in chronic users and these patients will, unfortunately, still experience withdrawal symptoms for that amount of time. 

The most common withdrawal symptom which is experienced is insomnia and can last for up to a few months. Other psychological symptoms may also include the following:

  • Depression.
  • Nightmares and/or vivid dreams.
  • Aggression and/or irritability.
  • Loss of concentration.

Physical symptoms may include the following issues:

  • Headaches.
  • Night sweats.
  • Coughing up phlegm.
  • Loss of appetite with resulting weight loss.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shaking or tremors.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Sexual disturbances such as impotency.
Sweating can be profuse as this is one of the body's ways of getting rid of toxins. Specifically, hand sweats can occur commonly and there may be an unpleasant odour which accompanies this issue. The sweating can be so problematic that it warrants changing of clothes up to 4 times a day, including at night-time, as well as extra baths or showers.

Managing sweating as a withdrawal symptom

It's important to remember that the reason for the persistent and profuse sweating is due to THC's slow removal from the body, which means that this issue can last up to 3-4 months. This does seem like a long time but it will resolve in the end.

Steps and suggestions for reducing the discomfort caused by this problematic symptom may include the following:

  • Take regular warm baths or showers as this not only keeps one clean from all the impurities which are present in sweat, but will also help regulate your body temperature (which helps to reduce sweating) and will also help reduce other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of water as to avoid becoming dehydrated due to all the sweating. Also, potassium can become depleted so make sure to consume foods which are high in potassium such as bananas, melons, green leafy vegetables or citrus fruit.
  • Make sure there are at least 2 extra sets of shirts present to change when the sweating is severe. One can also use extra-strong antiperspirants to help control some of the sweating.

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