Monday, 20 July 2009

Cannabis - Another Possible Fix for Opiate Addiction

Sorry about posting another research related item but I couldn’t help it. Look at the headline of the article below from ScienceDaily and you might start to forgive me. Even though the headline is an eye catcher, there are no human trials yet and any real results are years away. Still, the study is strangely compelling. The premise is straight forward enough but the irony is priceless ... smoking dope to stop being a smack junkie. I can see the anti-drug nuts having a mild seizure and the pro-cannabis supporters drooling with anticipation. Is cannabis going to be the wonder drug that even cures opiate addiction? Maybe ... maybe not, but there’s enough here for the weed worshippers to be optimistic. Unfortunately it’s too early to be excited for those on the receiving end of this potential treatment, the opiate addicts themselves. Sadly, the future for this type of treatment in Australia looks grim. We don’t even have provisions for medical marijuana yet and with the current trend of conservative politics, I can’t see a radical change anytime soon. There is already plenty of opposition to any form of medical treatment with cannabis but using pot to treat heroin addicts would create a sensation. Can you imagine the war cries from moral crusaders in the media like Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt? What about political screwballs like Fred Nile, Chris Pyne and Tony Abbott? Even if the federal government gives it the okay, would the states support it? Can you imagine SA giving it the nod with Attorney General, Michael Atkinson and indpendant Anne Bressington being so anti-drugs. Would WA Premier, Colin Barnett have a change of heart regarding pot? What about the hysterical NSW government? Or the redneck wonderland, Qld? You get my point. Anyway, it’s early days and there’s plenty of rats yet to become martyrs. Maybe by the time it comes to phase III human trials, there might be more support for evidence based drug policy? Maybe, some new, fresh blood in politics has initiated change? Maybe a new wave of fact driven journalism has replaced the old, stale, self righteous opinion based dribble? Maybe....
Active Ingredient In Cannabis Eliminates Morphine Dependence In Rats ScienceDaily July 2009 Injections of THC, the active principle of cannabis, eliminate dependence on opiates (morphine, heroin) in rats deprived of their mothers at birth. The findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments. In order to study psychiatric disorders, neurobiologists use animal models, especially maternal deprivation models. Depriving rats of their mothers for several hours a day after their birth leads to a lack of care and to early stress. The lack of care, which takes place during a period of intense neuronal development, is liable to cause lasting brain dysfunction. The study was carried out by Valérie Daugé and her team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / INSERM). Valérie Daugé's team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / Inserm) analyzed the effects of maternal deprivation combined with injections of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active principle in cannabis, on behavior with regard to opiates. Previously, Daugé and her colleagues had shown that rats deprived of their mothers at birth become hypersensitive to the rewarding effect of morphine and heroin (substances belonging to the opiate family), and rapidly become dependent. In addition, there is a correlation between such behavioral disturbances linked to dependence, and hypoactivity of the enkephalinergic system, the endogenous opioid system. To these rats, placed under stress from birth, the researchers intermittently administered increasingly high doses of THC (5 or 10 mg/kg) during the period corresponding to their adolescence (between 35 and 48 days after birth). By measuring their consumption of morphine in adulthood, they observed that, unlike results previously obtained, the rats no longer developed typical morphine-dependent behavior. Moreover, biochemical and molecular biological data corroborate these findings. In the striatum, a region of the brain involved in drug dependence, the production of endogenous enkephalins was restored under THC, whereas it diminished in rats stressed from birth which had not received THC. Such animal models are validated for understanding the neurobiological and behavioral effects of postnatal conditions in humans. In this context, the findings point to the development of new treatments that could relieve withdrawal effects and suppress drug dependence. The enkephalinergic system produces endogenous enkephalins, which are neurotransmitters that bind to the same receptors as opiates and inhibit pain messages to the brain.


amphibious said...

Let us not forget that, in 1898, heroin was first marketed as a cure for morphine addiction. An effective one too, it certtainly worked!

Anonymous said...

Can anybody simplify the discussion regarding using THC as an Opiate substitute or to at least ease the withdrawls of Heroin addiction??, i need help. fast please