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Cannabis Use Disorder

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Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a danger for the cancer patient. I say this because the top study linked and excerpted below cites chronic pain as a possible driver in CUD. And many cancer survivors live with chronic pain.

Before I explain this issue I want to first talk about chronic pain in cancer survivors. According to the American Cancer Society, more than a third of all cancer patients develop chronic pain. There were more than 18 million cancer survivors living in the United States in 2022. This means that more than 6 million of them live with chronic pain.

While I am not excusing Cannabis Use Disorder among cancer survivors I admit to being sympathetic with people who go through what I live with.

What is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) is a mental health condition characterized by problematic and compulsive use of cannabis (marijuana) despite experiencing negative consequences as a result. It is considered a form of substance use disorder and can lead to significant impairment in daily functioning and overall well-being.

Some common signs and symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder may include:

  1. Craving: A strong desire or urge to use cannabis.
  2. Loss of Control: Difficulty in limiting the amount or frequency of cannabis use.
  3. Tolerance: Needing larger amounts of cannabis to achieve the desired effect, indicating a reduced response to the same amount over time.
  4. Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using cannabis. These can include irritability, restlessness, insomnia, loss of appetite, and mood swings.
  5. Neglect of Responsibilities: Prioritizing cannabis use over responsibilities at work, school, or in relationships.
  6. Continued Use Despite Problems: Using cannabis despite experiencing negative consequences such as relationship issues, legal problems, or health concerns.
  7. Time Spent on Cannabis: Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of cannabis.
  8. Reduction of Activities: Giving up or reducing participation in activities that were once important or enjoyable in favor of cannabis use.
  9. Isolation: Withdrawing from social activities or relationships in favor of using cannabis.

It’s important to note that not everyone who uses cannabis will develop Cannabis Use Disorder. Factors like genetics, environment, and individual vulnerability can contribute to the development of this disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis use and experiencing negative consequences, seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist is recommended. They can provide appropriate assessment, support, and treatment options.

As a long-term survivor of an incurable cancer I think I manage my chronic pain well. 

Are you a cancer survivor living with chronic pain? Possibly cannabis use disorder? I am not a psychologist. Nor am I a pain doctor. But I do know about about evidence-based non-conventional therapies to manage pain.

Let me know- David.PeopleBeatingCancer.@gmail.com.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Cannabis Laws Linked to CUD in Adults With Chronic Pain

“TOPLINE: Enactment of medical and recreational cannabis laws in the US has been associated with an increase in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder (CUD), with particularly steep increases noted among older adults with chronic pain, a study of US veterans shows…

  • Overall, the associations of MCL and RCL with CUD prevalence were greater among patients with chronic pain compared to those without the condition.
  • Enacting MCL led to a 0.135% absolute increase in CUD prevalence among patients with chronic pain, 8.4% of which was directly attributable to MCL, vs a 0.037% absolute increase in CUD among those without chronic pain, 5.7% of which was attributable to MCL.
  • Enacting RCL led to a 0.188% absolute increase in CUD prevalence among patients with chronic pain, with 11.5% of the total increase due to RCL, vs a 0.042% absolute increase in patients without chronic pain, 6.0% of which was attributable to RCL.
  • Introducing RCL was associated with the greatest increases in CUD prevalence among patients aged 65–75 years with chronic pain….”

After Legalization, Marijuana Addiction Is on the Rise

  • A new studyTrusted Source finds that addiction has gone up among young people who live in states where recreational cannabis is legal.
  • The overall rate of addiction remains low, but the findings are concerning for experts.
  • Additionally, experts are learning more about how heavy cannabis use can take a toll on health…
Effects of problematic usage

CUD is a problematic pattern of cannabis use that causes clinically significant impairment or distress. Diagnosis involves meeting several criteria in a 12-month span.

Because research has shown frequent and problematic use across age groups, legalization efforts should occur alongside funding for prevention and treatment, she said.

Early signs of CUD include becoming preoccupied with obtaining, using, and getting over the drug’s effects. A person with CUD may start to use alone instead of socially. They may avoid certain places where they cannot use it, or avoid others who will object to their usage. Memory impairments, as well as missed work or school time, can become more common…



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