Exposing adolescent rats to THC disrupted normal maturation of a key set of neurons in a brain area that corresponds to the human prefrontal cortex. The disruptions produced structural differences that resemble patterns which have been observed in people with addiction and schizophrenia.
The spread of marijuana use and the opioid epidemic over the past 10 years have affected middle-aged and older Americans. In addition, prescription opioid and benzodiazepine misuse increased older adults’ risk of suicidal thoughts.
These findings add to research showing that nicotine and cannabis have interactive effects on brain structure and function. They also suggest that specialized treatment interventions may be appropriate for people who use both drugs.
People with cannabis dependence have changes in neural circuitry in brain regions related to reward processing, habit formation, and psychopathology. These changes in neural circuitry may provide a useful marker for tracking psychopathology associated with cannabis misuse.
Interim treatment with buprenorphine significantly improved the psychiatric symptoms of people awaiting comprehensive treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). Buprenorphine treatment, even without concurrent psychosocial counseling, may help patients with no, or delayed, access to comprehensive OUD treatment.
This study demonstrated that cocaine increases expression of the protein E2F3a in the brain’s reward system. The changes in E2F3a levels in the nucleus accumbens are tied to addiction-related behaviors and to altered gene expression.