Dr. Kevin M. Gray discusses why it’s the perfect time for discovering new evidence-based treatments for marijuana dependence. In an accompanying podcast, he discusses a clinical trial that examines NAC’s potential as a treatment for marijuana dependence among adults.
Within the 2 weeks prior to responding to a nationwide survey, 28 percent of high school seniors were in a vehicle whose driver had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or had drunk 5 or more alcoholic drinks.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is a dangerous public health concern. NIDA researchers have discovered that breath expelled into a Breathalyzer-style collection device contained measurable amounts of THC for up to 2 hours after participants in a recent clinical trial smoked the drug.
Exposing rats to THC increases the likelihood that the animals will later self-administer nicotine. THC-exposed rats are also willing to work harder to obtain nicotine. When extrapolated to people, the findings suggest that THC’s pharmacological impact on the brain may make a person who uses marijuana more vulnerable to developing nicotine addiction, an underappreciated health consequence of marijuana use.
Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.
Teen mothers on three American Indian reservations improved on several measures of parenting after participating in Family Spirit, a home-visiting intervention developed with NIDA support. At 12 months postpartum, the women’s children exhibited reduced rates of emotional difficulties predicting later drug abuse and other behavioral problems. Infants at highest risk—those whose mothers had histories of drug abuse—benefited the most.
People with cannabis use disorder (CUD) are likely also to have social anxiety disorder (SAD), and comorbid SAD is associated with greater severity of cannabis-related problems. These findings highlight the importance of assessing CUD patients for SAD, as that disorder can be both a contributing cause and a consequence of CUD. Treating both disorders may be a key to helping patients recover from each.
Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.
Regular cannabis use that starts in adolescence strips away IQ, a NIDA-supported study suggests. Participants who initiated weekly cannabis use before age 18 dropped IQ points in proportion to how long they persisted in using the drug. Persistent cannabis users’ cognitive difficulties were evident to friends and family and measurable on a battery of tests.