Researchers at the University of New South Wales of Australia has launched a study to try and better understand cannabis withdrawal, which are often ignored by the users, China's Xinhua news agency quoted a local media on Friday.
The researchers hope the study will help develop better treatment programmes and eventually lead to a pharmacological substitute to help kick the marijuana habit.
The lead researcher, Dr Melissa Norberg, from the university's National Cannabis Prevention and Intervention Centre said unlike withdrawal from other drugs such as heroin and cocaine, there is no recognized medical syndrome for people who give up cannabis.
"Because people don't die from cannabis withdrawal and it doesn't seem as horrible as withdrawing from heroin, therefore, people have ignored it," Dr Norberg told ABC News on Friday.
"We have a manual called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and so when people abuse other drugs, (like) cocaine or opiates, all of those drugs of abuse have a withdrawal syndrome noted in that manual. But cannabis does not."
The participants in the study can smoke marijuana as normal for seven days. Then they have to give up for two weeks and keep a daily diary.
Dr Norberg said generally symptoms of withdrawal kick in within 24 hours of giving up.
"Some of the most common symptoms that previous literature has already found are items like weight loss, headaches, having mood changes (like) feeling depressed or anxious during the withdrawal syndrome," she said, adding that some 200,000 Australians depend on cannabis.
Dr Norberg said she is hoping her research will help reduce the rate of relapse among those trying to give up the drug.
"When people are starting to feel these symptoms, they want them to go away, because they're aversive, so they'll use cannabis, " she said.
"Some research has found that they'll also use nicotine and alcohol to alleviate the symptoms and so it is very important to recognize that it is contributing to further drug use.
"Then, once we begin to understand that more and what the syndrome does look like, we can possibly develop pharmacological interventions to help alleviate it."
The study will continue for another month before the results are analysed and published.
September 17, 2010
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