Epilepsy Drug May Help People Quit Smoking Marijuana, Study Suggests

The drug gabapentin, used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain, may help people quit smoking marijuana, a new study suggests. HealthCanal reports gabapentin targets stress systems in the brain that are activated by drug withdrawal.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, studied 50 people who sought treatment for marijuana use. In the three-month trial, those who took gabapentin used less marijuana, experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms, and scored higher on tests of cognitive skills, including attention and impulse control, compared with those who took a placebo. Withdrawal symptoms can include sleep disturbances, drug cravings and mood changes.

“A lot of other drugs have been tested for their ability to decrease cannabis use and withdrawal, but this is the first to show these key effects in a controlled treatment study,” researcher Barbara J. Mason said in a news release. “The other nice thing about gabapentin is that it is already widely prescribed, so its safety is less likely to be an issue.”

There is no medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for marijuana dependence, the researchers note. In the study, which appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, they say that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the world, and patients seeking treatment for primary marijuana dependence represent 25 percent of all substance-use admissions.

Mason said repeated drug use can lead to weakening of brain circuits related to self control. This makes it harder for people to resist drug cravings when they are trying to quit. “Gabapentin may help restore those circuits, by reducing stress and enabling patients to sleep better, so that they function better while awake,” she added.

6 Responses to Epilepsy Drug May Help People Quit Smoking Marijuana, Study Suggests

  1. Beth | April 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I have taken gabapentin, and not only did it not help me with any type of pain whatsoever, but I did not quit using marijuana either. Marijuana has helped me more than any pill ever has and is safer. This article is full of incorrect information from people without any experience in what they’re talking about.

  2. Anastasia | April 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Yes, let’s put people on drugs (for something they don’t even HAVE) to get them off a different drug. As long as the pharmaceutical industry profits, right?

  3. Ole Andersen | April 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    But if you happen to be an epileptic , then marijuana can be beneficial they say . I have thought of combining my Walproate , epileptic drug with marijuana because Walproate alone does not get me to feel calm enough and I have heard much good about marijuana when it comes to epilepsy . Medical marijuana is also an option .

  4. Dwayne | April 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    And why would we want to do that seeing that Marijuana is the greatest Medical find ever!!!!

  5. Ceia | May 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    People become “addicted” to marijuana the same way they get addicted to junk food. Except junk food’s probably worse for you.

    • Linda | March 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Observed what has happened to my brother with marijuana, eztreme loss in concentration, no longer an intelligent person, you may feel creative and smart on marijuna, but you are not, you are gradually losing your mental sharpness, marijuana mania/paranoia is awful to observe, verbally attacks our mother and I am not sure he knows fully what he is doing. A counselor told us that what he sees over and over is people on marijuana lose there motivation and at the same time feel better so they deny all the problems it is causing them and their family.

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