Addiction treatment: first study of its kind in Australia


Cannabis against cannabis addiction

An Australian study has shown that Sativex help fight against cannabis addiction. A new article provides the first strong evidence that cannabis replacement therapy could reduce the rate of relapse. The principles are similar to those of replacing the Nicotine in that the patient receives a safer medication and in an environment that helps break the cycle of consumption.

Un article on the clinical trial of the University of Sydney and NSW Health provides the first convincing evidence that a drug called cannabinoid agonist (which targets brain receptors) could reduce the rate of relapse.

The document published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine whose lead author, Nick Lintzeris, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney and Director of Substance Abuse and Alcohol Services in South East Sydney District, said that study should give hope to cannabis addicts: the leading cause of drug treatment episodes in Australia.

"We have never had the evidence before that drugs can be effective at treating cannabis addiction, this is the first major study to show that it is a safe and effective approach," said Professor Lintzeris.

Sativex as a substitute

"The principles are very similar to those of nicotine replacement; you offer patients a safer drug than the medication they already use, and you combine that with medical support and counseling to help people cope with their excessive use of cannabis. "

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Cannabis concentrate, which contains equal proportions of psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is sprayed under the tongue and avoids the health effects associated with smoking cannabis, such as breathing problems.

The nabiximols trade name: Sativex

Nabiximols have been used primarily to treat painful symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis and have been registered in Australia. Alternative medical cannabis products exist, but they are only available through specific access and unlike the drug under test, they also require the approval of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

This extensive external clinical study of 12 weeks on 128 participants taking nabiximol-based drugs followed an earlier study from the same research team that had previously shown that nabiximols reduced withdrawal symptoms in a short hospital treatment program duration. "The latest study published today is all the more important because it shows that nabiximols can be effective in helping patients change their cannabis use in the long term," says Professor Lintzeris.

Around the world, we are seeing patients under medicinal cannabis moving away from the traditional way of smoking cannabis. This new study confirms this trend by showing that an oral spray can be an effective substitute for smoked cannabis among heavy recreational users seeking treatment for their cannabis use. "

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Professor Lintzeris said that one of the important elements of this essay supported by the National Council for Medical Research and Health was that only cannabis users had been recruited for unsuccessfully trying to limit their consumption.

"Our study is an important step in solving the problem of lack of effective treatments. Currently, four out of five patients have returned to normal use six months after a medical or psychological intervention. "

Trial and taking of drugs:

During the clinical trial, participants received an average dose of approximately 18 sprays per day, each 0,1 ml spraying including 2,7 mg THC and 2,5 mg CBD. (1 Ratio: 1)

  • Participants treated with nabiximols consumed significantly less cannabis than patients who gave a placebo.
  • The drug has been linked to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapeutic support for a holistic approach.
  • The benefits of cannabis replacement in terms of health and behavior include the withdrawal of patients from their usual drinking habits.
  • This first large-scale randomized controlled trial of Sativex extract demonstrated suppression of withdrawal and cravings, as well as improved physical and psychological well-being.

Conclusions and relevance This study demonstrates that treatment with a cannabinoid agonist, in this case the use of nabiximols, combined with psychosocial interventions is a safe approach to reduce cannabis use among people who are addicted to cannabis and seeking treatment.

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