So-Called Natural High Could Help Some Addicts Quit Marijuana
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Future medication could alleviate mood and anxiety disorders resulting from prolonged marijuana use, enabling some addicts to successfully quit the drug.
In a recent Vanderbilt University study published in the online edition of the journal Cell Reports, senior author Sachin Patel and his colleagues created genetically modified mice with a diminished ability to produce the 2-AG endocannabinoid, a compound responsible for providing a “high” by activating the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. The genetically modified mice displayed symptoms of anxiety and depression, but when the researchers restored the 2-AG levels to normal, the symptoms were reversed.
Prolonged use of marijuana increases anxiety, making users more dependent on the drug to relieve their anxiety. But restoring depleted 2-AG levels “could be a way to help people using marijuana,” said Patel.
Patel was able to reduce the anxiety behaviors in the mice by inducing a natural high through the activation of the endocannabinoids. If the same techniques could be translated to human use, those addicted to the anxiety-relieving aspect of marijuana would finally have the means to quit.
“Normalizing 2-AG deficiency could represent a viable…therapeutic strategy for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders,” said Patel.