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Regular marijuana users may have impaired brain reward centers

Science Spotlight

July 30, 2014

New research shows that regular marijuana users show impairments in the brain’s ability to respond to dopamine – a brain chemical that is involved in reward, among other functions.

Although this research can’t determine if regular marijuana use causes deficits in brain reward centers – or if users take marijuana to compensate for less reactive dopamine systems – these results could help explain why regular marijuana users are more prone towards depression, anxiety, irritability, and increased sensitivity to stress.

The study, first-authored by NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, was supported by the intramural research program of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For a copy of the study abstract (published online July 14), go to:
www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/07/10/1411228111.abstract.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

Brain dopamine pathways

NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2014, July 30). Regular marijuana users may have impaired brain reward centers. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/07/regular-marijuana-users-may-have-impaired-brain-reward-centers

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