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Yale Study Paves Way for Cannabis Withdrawal Treatment

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Researchers at Yale University are currently developing a way to treat some of the withdrawal effects felt by those who quit cannabis after long-term use.

The study, now more than two years in the making, is testing a drug that can block the withdrawal symptoms felt by a consumer with cannabis use disorder. According to Yale University professor and first author on the study, Deepak Cyril D’Souza, cannabis use disorder is defined as social and functional impairment, risky use, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, according to DSM-5, the statistical manual of mental health disorders developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Withdrawal symptoms shown are typically irritability, anger, depression, decreased appetite and insomnia. D’Souza says approximately three out of 10 cannabis consumers develop cannabis use disorder.

D’Souza previously worked with the research team that helped develop the drug used in the study to combat cannabis withdrawal symptoms. The drug, called a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor, works by preventing enzymes from breaking down cannabinoids. By not breaking down the cannabinoids the brain never goes without the chemical, making withdrawal symptoms less severe and making relapse less likely.

For D’Souza’s study, paid participants will receive the medication for eight weeks and will wear an actigraph to measure their sleep. The study is currently looking for more participants and is expected to be completed in February 2022.

Yale University is also studying cannabis in a different form. Earlier this year, the Women’s Research Center at Yale announced they would be funding a study on cannabidiol (CBD) and how it affects the brain and if it affects men and women differently.Other studies have looked at the potential link between cannabis and how it could induce temporary psychiatric symptoms. “We have concerns about potential contributions of cannabis to the development of serious mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” D’Souza said.

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