Sociodemographic characteristics of cannabis smokers and the experience of cannabis withdrawal

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010 Nov;36(6):311-9. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2010.503825. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Background: Cannabis withdrawal can be a negative reinforcer for relapse, but little is known about its association with demographic characteristics.

Objectives: Evaluate the association of demographic characteristics with the experience of cannabis withdrawal.

Methods: Retrospective self-report of a "serious" cannabis quit attempt without formal treatment in a convenience sample of 104 non-treatment-seeking, adult cannabis smokers (mean age 35 years, 52% white, 78% male) with no other current substance use disorder (except tobacco) or chronic health problems. Reasons for quitting, coping strategies to help quit, and 18 specific withdrawal symptoms were assessed by questionnaire.

Results: Among withdrawal symptoms, only anxiety, increased sex drive, and craving showed significant associations with age, race, or sex. Women were more likely than men to report a physical withdrawal symptom (OR = 3.2, 95% CI = .99-10.4, p = .05), especially upset stomach. There were few significant demographic associations with coping strategies or reasons for quitting.

Conclusions and scientific significance: This small study suggests that there are few robust associations between demographic characteristics and cannabis withdrawal. Future studies with larger samples are needed. Attention to physical withdrawal symptoms in women may help promote abstinence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / epidemiology*