Comparison of cannabis and tobacco withdrawal: Severity and contribution to relapse

Alan J. Budney, Ryan G. Vandrey, John R. Hughes, Jeff D. Thostenson, Zoran Bursac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This naturalistic telephone survey study compared perceptions of withdrawal severity in 67 daily cannabis users and 54 daily tobacco cigarette smokers who made quit attempts during the prior 30 days. A Withdrawal Symptom Checklist assessed the severity of abstinence symptoms and a Likert scale assessed perceived relations between abstinence symptoms and relapse. A composite Withdrawal Discomfort Score did not differ significantly between groups (M = 13.0 for cannabis, vs. M = 13.2 for tobacco). Individual symptom severity ratings were also of similar magnitude, except craving and sweating were slightly higher for tobacco. Both groups reported that withdrawal contributed substantially to relapse, and the strength of these ratings was similar across groups. The diverse convenience sample examined in this study adds external validity and generalizability to prior studies that included only users not planning to quit or excluded many common types of cannabis users. The comparable withdrawal experience from these heterogeneous cannabis and tobacco users supports previous findings from controlled laboratory studies and indicates that real-world, frequent cannabis users perceive that withdrawal symptoms negatively affect their desire and ability to quit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-368
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Cannabis
  • Dependence
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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