Cannabis News The November Coalition
  Marijuana Could Help Cocaine Addicts Kick Habit
Posted by FoM on October 04, 2001 at 08:16:46 PT
By Emma Young  
Source: New Scientist  

medical Smoking marijuana could help prevent recovering cocaine addicts relapsing, research on rats suggests. Dutch and US scientists deprived cocaine-addicted rats of the drug for 14 days and then exposed them to environmental cues associated with their drug-taking. Such cues often trigger relapse in recovering human addicts.

When the rats were also injected with a synthetic drug that blocks cannabinoid receptors - the same receptors targeted by the active compounds in marijuana - they were much less likely to seek an injection of cocaine.

"We found that in the rats exposed to environmental cues associated with cocaine injection in the past, or to cocaine itself, the likelihood of relapse was reduced by 50 to 60 per cent," says Taco de Vries, who led the research at Vrije University in Amsterdam and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Unpublished studies by the team on heroin-addicted rats have shown similar results, he told New Scientist.

Drugs to help prevent relapse in cocaine users are desperately needed, says de Vries. "Right now there is not much available. You can give anti-depressants to help with the symptoms of withdrawal but they don't seem to work very well."

Alcohol and Smoking

Danielle Piomelli of the University of California, Irvine agrees. "The finding that blockade of cannabinoid receptors prevents cue-mediated relapses to cocaine seeking is of obvious therapeutic significance," she writes in a commentary on the research in the journal Nature Medicine.

It is not clear exactly how blocking cannabinoid receptors should reduce the likelihood of relapse, says the team. But the cannabinoid system is closely linked to the dopamine system, the body's "reward" centre.

It is possible that blocking cannabinoid receptors could help people trying to give up alcohol, as well as heroin, cocaine and smoking, says deVries.

However, the cannabinoid system does not seem to mediate the brain's response to stress triggers during withdrawal, which can also cause relapses in drug-taking. "As with other chronic diseases, it is reasonable to expect that treatment of drug craving and relapse will involve the use of more than one drug," writes Piomelli.

Journal Reference: Nature Medicine (vol 7, p 1151)

Source: New Scientist (UK)
Author: Emma Young
Published: October 4, 2001
Copyright: New Scientist, RBI Limited 2001
Contact: letters@newscientist.com
Website: http://www.newscientist.com/

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Comment #5 posted by Ethan Russo MD on October 04, 2001 at 09:33:09 PT:

Complex
There is a discussion of cannabis use to reduce cocaine, heroin or alcohol dependency in the Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs.

It is clear that cannabis can reduce withdrawal symptoms from those drugs. It works as an agonist (stimulator) of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Receptor blockers or antagonists take up the space but do not stimulate the receptor. To make it more complicated, some of the drugs used in this research are inverse agonists: you don't want to know.

Animals are not people. Avoid the tendency to extrapolate too much.

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Comment #4 posted by tdm on October 04, 2001 at 09:19:55 PT:

explanation?
I think they are saying that marijuana/THC "blocks" the cannabinoid receptors by supplying the receptors with cannabinoids. Wouldn't "filling up" the receptors effectively block them? Then, by some mystery as yet unknown, the filled/blocked receptors aid in combating the negative effects of addicting the dopamine system to cocaine, etc. Hence, minimized withdrawal symptoms for cocaine addicts.

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Comment #3 posted by dddd on October 04, 2001 at 09:14:39 PT
take it from an expert
,,,,,,yes,,and Marijuana may help many other things.......but,,,if you are seeking relief from a nagging cocaine habit,,,or any of a number of joneses,then relying on a drug,to quit a drug is not that good of a thing. ..

..But on the other hand,,I gotta say,that weed will definitly help when trying to avoid a cocaine monster.....so,,it would appear that my comment has canceled itself out.....sorry....

,never mindddd

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Comment #2 posted by Doug on October 04, 2001 at 09:12:20 PT
My Impression Exactly
When I read this I wondered if I was too stupid to follow it, since the headline and the article are at odds. Can anyone explain this?

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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on October 04, 2001 at 08:59:20 PT:

Say what?
Something odd, here. The first sentence leads you to believe that cannabis can be used to assist cocaine addicts reduce their cravings and eventually lead to recovery. Then the rest of the article seems to state the opposite.

That cannabis receptor agonsists are effective, too. Which is it?

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