By Audrey Quinn
Posting in Technology
The drug gabapentin, already on the market to treat neuropathic pain and epilepsy, quiets the brain circuitry responsible for withdrawal symptoms in marijuana addicts.
Marijuana hooks users by altering stress circuits in their brains. People can get reliant on using pot to deal with stress, and then once off of it their stress symptoms can rebound excessively. Barbara J. Mason of the Scripps Research Institute explains in a press release:
"In human cannabis users who try to quit, this stress response is reflected in reports of drug craving, sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, and dysphoria, any one of which can motivate a person to return to using, because cannabis will quiet these symptoms."
So far, there aren't any FDA-approved drug therapies for cannabis dependence. But hold up, you may be thinking, is marijuana actually addictive? Mason says yes:
"Some people deny that cannabis can be addictive, but surveys show that between 16 and 25 percent of substance use treatment admissions around the world every year involve people with primary cannabis dependence."
A 2008 study had found that gabapentin, a frequently prescribed anticonvulsant drug, can quiet withdrawal-related stress circuitry activation in alcohol-dependent rats (don't ask). Gabapentin resembles the neurotransmitter GABA, which regulates neuronal excitability in the central nervous system. Since cannabis withdrawal features a similar over-activation of stress circuits as alcohol withdrawal, Mason decided to test gabapentin on marijuana addicts.
She recruited 50 marijuana users who hoped to quit the drug. Half of the subjects took 1,200 mg/day of gabapentin, the other 25 took a placebo pill. Mason monitored the subjects over twelve weeks.
Her results, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, show that the gabapentin subjects had much higher success at staying off marijuana. Mason details in the press release:
"Urine metabolite readings indicate about twice as many of the gabapentin subjects had no new cannabis use during the entire study, and, in the last four weeks of the study, all of the gabapentin subjects who completed the study stayed abstinent."
Gabapentin reduced symptoms of withdrawal. Its use resulted in fewer sleep disturbances, less drug cravings, less unhappiness, and even some evidence of sharpened cognition.
Mason explains why she thinks gabapentin works for treating marijuana withdrawal:
"That weakening of self-control-related circuits makes it even harder for people to resist drug cravings when they’re trying to quit, but gabapentin may help restore those circuits, by reducing stress and enabling patients to sleep better, so that they function better while awake."
Mason's now conducting a larger study to confirm gabapentin's success in helping people quit cannabis use. The drug is already approved by the FDA (for neuropathic pain and epilepsy), but prescribing it to marijuana addicts would be an "off-label use." Which means its manufacturers can't advertise gabapentin as a therapy for the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, but doctors can legally prescribe it to patients trying to quit.
Apr 24, 2012
i resent the fact that people say its not addictive. How would you know, unless you've been addicted yourself. I have suffered and tried to quit for over 15 years. It can be addictive for people that start early while the brain and the brain chemistry is still developing. There are plenty of studies showing this to be the case with other drugs too. Unfortunately, i started at 15 stealing it from my parents. i would love to be able to take a pill that weaned me off of thc without the high or the short term memory loss.
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The article says: ???In human cannabis users who try to quit, this stress response is reflected in reports of drug craving, sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, and dysphoria, any one of which can motivate a person to return to using, because cannabis will quiet these symptoms.??? It sounds like the article is blaming these symptoms on the lack of cannabis, but could it be that the study has accurately documented the symptoms of stress and still have come to the wrong conclusion? Was the question ever asked "Did you have these symptoms before you started using cannabis?" Most of the people I know have these stress symptoms (excepting "drug craving") due to life pressures that are typical, such as uncertainty with continued employment, additional workload and responsibilities that get placed on you due to your company "right sizing" and bills that seem to pile up faster than they can be paid while the price of gas is making you choose between driving to work and normal stress relief like watching TV or playing golf. Is it at all possible that some of the people who use cannabis do so to alleviate these stress symptoms, only having them return, like normal, when they stop using cannabis? And could it also be that the drug craving is just a conscious or subconscious desire to, and I quote, "return to using, because cannabis will quiet these symptoms???? So, the conclusion is that cannabis makes you addicted so you need to buy more dangerous drugs that is typically used for the treatment of pain in dogs and cats with far greater potential side effects that is ???off-label use??? and probably not covered by insurance so that you can help reduce the symptoms that cannabis was helping to alleviate...sorry, let me rephrase...the symptoms that exist in the absence of cannabis and we are going to pay about $0.24 per capsule plus the cost of the Dr. visit to get our legal pharma fix instead of the evil devil weed. When the study indicates that cannabis is effective at quieting these symptoms of stress, yet they draw a conclusion that condemns cannabis and promotes an alternative drug to provide a similar effect it sounds like a competing drug dealer trying to convince you that their stuff is better than the stuff you are getting now. Doesn't sound right to me...
Marijuana addiction? Hope you Pharmaceutical execs sleep well. Pharmaceutical companies continue to show their lack of ethics. Remember, there's lies, damn lies, and statistics. One can always find a researcher to produce findings that support their chosen outcome.
The Snake Oil Salesmen at Big Pharma and the FDA are unbelievable. Why do you need a withdrawal drug for something that has no withdrawal symptoms and isn't physically addictive. It may make you want to kill yourself, BTW. *Gabapentin, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. *http://www.drugs.com/pro/gabapentin.html
MJ is not physically addictive...period. There has never been a legitimate study that claims it is. Do people like MJ and continue to use it, yes. That is not addiction, it is simply that they like it.
Okay, so they have a synthetic drug they can give you to "help" you forget about the marijuana... Oh... by the way, there is another synthetic drug they can give you for the stress anxiety. It IS NOT an addiction, what they are using the marijuana for is the treatment of severe stress. Unless you remove the stress from the equation these people are still going to need something to fend off the affects of the stress. Marijuana does that for them. Remove the marijuana and they still have to deal with the stress. Which do you want.... chemical or natural?
"Habit forming" does not equate to "addictive". I think pot is "addictive" in the same way as chocolate!
Its still seems like a useful and beneficial treatment to have available. Not to mention, it may help with alcoholism as well.
The medical marijuana crowd insists that marijuana is not addictive. Well which is it folks? You cannot have it both ways.
Is this some kind of weird and dangerous joke? Here are the most COMMON side effects when using Gabapentin: Diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; tiredness. Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using Gabapentin: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); behavior changes; confusion; difficult or painful urination; fever; memory problems; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, depression, agitation, anxiety, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility, exaggerated feeling of well-being, restlessness, inability to sit still); new or worsening trouble sleeping; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; severe headache or dizziness; suicidal thoughts or actions; swelling of the hands, legs, or feet. http://www.drugs.com/sfx/gabapentin-side-effects.html
addiction A physical or psychological need to use a drug or other substance regularly, despite the fact that it is likely to have a damaging effect. It often goes beyond just a habit. A psychological dependence on marijuana is more common than a dependace on chocolate.
The problem with marijuana studies is that the results tend to be predicted by who is making the study. DEA will make pot sound like a destructive poison while other studies show that it is beneficial. DEA will also talk in terms of "known problems" but fail to give details. What is needed is an actual scientific study that is properly designed to eliminate bias, has control and double blind groups (hard standard but possible) to study the actual effects over a period of time. This kind of study can not happen in the US because the DEA is in control of supplying the marijuana as well as choosing who it will let make the study. There is a lawsuit against the DEA for this very problem. I don't trust DEA sponsered studies because these studies are designed to support the view that pot is a useless drug with no benefit period. I have not seen a study that is not biased pro or con for medical marijuana; but I think that it does have some benefit for some illnesses, pain and also cancer treatment. Most of the benefits or dangers are anectdotal and this makes it hard to understand the risks vs benefits.
It's less addictive than your cup of tea. http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax5.htm The tables listed below show the rankings given for each of the drugs. Overall, their evaluations for the drugs are very consistent. It is notable that marijuana ranks below caffeine in most addictive criteria, while alcohol and tobacco are near the top of the scale in many areas. The rating scale is from 1 to 6. 1 denotes the drug with the strongest addictive tendencies, while 6 denotes the drug with the least addictive tendencies. HENNINGFIELD RATINGS Substance Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication Nicotine 3 4 2 1 5 Heroin 2 2 1 2 2 Cocaine 4 1 4 3 3 Alcohol 1 3 3 4 1 Caffeine 5 6 5 5 6 Marijuana 6 5 6 6 4 BENOWITZ RATINGS Substance Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication Nicotine 3* 4 4 1 6 Heroin 2 2 2 2 2 Cocaine 3* 1 1 3 3 Alcohol 1 3 4 4 1 Caffeine 4 5 3 5 5 Marijuana 5 6 5 6 4
You frame it as if MJ is either addictive or it's not but maybe it depends on the individual using it. As is true with many common prescription drugs they work well for most people but some people have unusual reactions to them. Having used MJ on and off over much of my life I've never had a problem going without when it was inappropriate to so I don't consider it addictive.
Here are just some of the many studies the Feds wish they'd never commissioned: 01) MARIJUANA USE HAS NO EFFECT ON MORTALITY: A massive study of California HMO members funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found marijuana use caused no significant increase in mortality. Tobacco use was associated with increased risk of death. Sidney, S et al. Marijuana Use and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 87 No. 4, April 1997. p. 585-590. Sept. 2002. 02) HEAVY MARIJUANA USE AS A YOUNG ADULT WON'T RUIN YOUR LIFE: Veterans Affairs scientists looked at whether heavy marijuana use as a young adult caused long-term problems later, studying identical twins in which one twin had been a heavy marijuana user for a year or longer but had stopped at least one month before the study, while the second twin had used marijuana no more than five times ever. Marijuana use had no significant impact on physical or mental health care utilization, health-related quality of life, or current socio-demographic characteristics. Eisen SE et al. Does Marijuana Use Have Residual Adverse Effects on Self-Reported Health Measures, Socio-Demographics or Quality of Life? A Monozygotic Co-Twin Control Study in Men. Addiction. Vol. 97 No. 9. p.1083-1086. Sept. 1997 03) THE "GATEWAY EFFECT" MAY BE A MIRAGE: Marijuana is often called a "gateway drug" by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical "associations" indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana - implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained "without requiring a gateway effect." More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what's most readily available. Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504. 04) PROHIBITION DOESN'T WORK: The White House had the National Research Council examine the data being gathered about drug use and the effects of U.S. drug policies. NRC concluded, "the nation possesses little information about the effectiveness of current drug policy, especially of drug law enforcement." And what data exist show "little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use." In other words, there is no proof that prohibition - the cornerstone of U.S. drug policy for a century - reduces drug use. National Research Council. Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us. National Academy Press, 2001. p. 193. 05) PROHIBITION MAY CAUSE THE "GATEWAY EFFECT"?): U.S. and Dutch researchers, supported in part by NIDA, compared marijuana users in San Francisco, where non-medical use remains illegal, to Amsterdam, where adults may possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses. Looking at such parameters as frequency and quantity of use and age at onset of use, they found the following: Cannabis (Marijuana) use in San Francisco was 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample. And lifetime use of hard drugs was significantly lower in Amsterdam, with its "tolerant" marijuana policies. For example, lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.5 times higher in San Francisco than Amsterdam. Reinarman, C, Cohen, PDA, and Kaal, HL. The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 94, No. 5. May 2004. p 836-842. 06) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 1): Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice's lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602. 07) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER, (PART 2): In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, "in a dose-dependent manner" (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, "Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer," AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997. 08) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 3): Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728. 09) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 4): Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006. 10) MARIJUANA DOES HAVE GREAT MEDICAL VALUE: In response to passage of California's medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana's medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana." The report also added, "we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting." The government's refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government "loves to ignore our report ??? they would rather it never happened." Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006
- IT IS NON-ADDICVTIVE- is a common battle cry. - ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE, MARIJUANA IS NOT - is another frequently heard. These are not my beliefs, but they are the most common arguments used by lawyers fighting for the legalization of marijuana. What you are saying is that it is addictive based on individual usage. Like alcohol. That very belief is counter to all of the arguments made by the pro pot movement.
Chocolate has theobromine that has the stimulative effect of caffeine. Theobromine is what makes dogs and other animals sick when eating chocolate, in some cases it is fatal.
Is that anything can be addictive. It depends on the individual. To murk the waters the term psychologically addictive has been thrown around. People can become mentally addicted to all sorts of things that wouldn't be considered so. I'll make it simple for you. MJ is not physically addictive. BTW alcohol is physically addictive just as caffeine is. Some people are more prone to it is all.
You can become psychologically addicted to anything. That doesn't mean it's physically addictive. As someone pointed out down below perhaps the subjects of the test had the stress reactions before their use of MJ and were self medicating to relieve them.