Behind alcohol and tobacco, cannabis is the third most used substance of abuse in the United States. Dependency and addiction can arise in individuals abusing any substance, and rates of cannabis use disorder, or CUD, have been on the rise over the last decade accompanying widespread acceptance and legalization of cannabis and cannabis products . Addictive patterns and behaviors associated with cannabis use and abuse are not as well studied as other substances, including alcohol and tobacco, but new studies and developments have gained insight into modern treatments.
A recent study by the University of Sydney and NSW Health in Australia has shed light on the ability of a cannabinoid agonist medication to reduce the rate of relapse in treating cannabis dependency . The development of this cannabis dependency treatment drug works in a similar fashion to nicotine replacement drugs, providing a smaller and smaller dose of the chemicals in which a patient is dependent until they can be weaned off of the substance completely.
The drug is administered to the subject via a sublingual spray that is made up of equal amounts of the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis, cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. This method of administration is ideal as it bypasses common forms of cannabis consumption, such as smoking, that pose negative health risks in addition to existing chemical dependency. Cannabis users who wished to limit and reduce their use of the drug had success in a 12-week clinical trial using the newly developed sublingual spray.
This study shows promise in the development and research of cannabis addiction medication and therapy as there is a lack of overall information and study on the matter. The study showed intriguing results that led to conclusions that the new medication can suppress cravings and withdrawals associated with heavy cannabis use while also improving overall psychological and physical health in the patients subjected to the treatment.
- Zehra, Amna, et al. Cannabis Addiction and the Brain: a Review. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2018; 13(4): 438-452.
- University of Sydney. ‘Cannabis treatment counters addiction: First study of its kind: Trial shows cannabis replacement therapy can be effective.” ScienceDaily, 15 July 2019. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190715114247.htm
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