Can Cannabis Withdrawal Cause Psychosis?

Psychosis Illustration

There is evidence to suggest that abrupt discontinuation of heavy and prolonged cannabis use, especially in individuals who are dependent on or have been using cannabis regularly, can sometimes trigger a range of withdrawal symptoms. However, the likelihood of experiencing psychosis specifically as a result of cannabis withdrawal is less common compared to other withdrawal symptoms.

Cannabis withdrawal syndrome may include various physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, decreased appetite, cravings, and restlessness. While psychosis is not a common withdrawal symptom, some studies suggest that in a subset of individuals who have a history of heavy cannabis use, withdrawal may exacerbate or unmask underlying mental health conditions, including psychotic disorders.

For individuals with a predisposition to psychotic disorders or with a history of psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, cannabis use—especially heavy and prolonged use—can potentially increase the risk of triggering or worsening psychotic symptoms. Withdrawal from cannabis in these cases might temporarily intensify psychiatric symptoms, including psychosis.

It’s important to note that the relationship between cannabis use, withdrawal, and psychosis is complex and varies among individuals. Not everyone who withdraws from cannabis will experience psychosis, and the risk factors for developing such symptoms are multifaceted, involving genetic, environmental, and individual factors.

If someone experiences symptoms of psychosis or other severe mental health issues during or after cannabis withdrawal, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Healthcare professionals can provide appropriate evaluation, support, and guidance, including psychiatric assessment and treatment if necessary.

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