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Using Marijuana can Help in the Treatment of Drug Addiction and Depression: Study

Cannabis use might not be recommended for conditions such as bipolar disorder and psychosis

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Marijuana. Pixabay
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Toronto, November 16, 2016: Using marijuana could help some alcoholics and people addicted to opioids kick the habit and may also help people suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, says a study.

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“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said the study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, Associate Professor at University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Canada.

The study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review is based on a systematic review of research on the medical cannabis use and mental health as well as reviews on non-medical cannabis use.

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However, the review concluded that cannabis use might not be recommended for conditions such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” Walsh said.

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It is important to identify ways to help mental health professional move beyond stigma to better understand the risk and benefits of cannabis, Walsh added.

“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” Walsh said. (IANS)

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Scientists Discover Link Between Hallucinations, Dopamine

The researchers found that elevated dopamine could make some patients rely more on expectations, which could then result in hallucinations

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hallucinations
For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, researchers designed an experiment that induces an auditory illusion in both healthy participants and participants with schizophrenia. Pixabay

People with schizophrenia, who experience auditory hallucinations, tend to hear what they expect an exaggerated version of a perceptual distortion that is common among other people without hallucinations.

According to the researchers, those with hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms are known to have elevated dopamine — the main area of focus for available treatments for psychosis — but it was unclear how this could lead to hallucinations.

ALSO READ: High-Frequency Magnetic Pulses May Treat “Hearing of Voices” Condition of Schizophrenia Patients: Study

“Our brain uses prior experiences to generate sensory expectations that help fill in the gaps when sounds or images are distorted or unclear,” said Guillermo Horga, Assistant Professor at Columbia University Medical Centre.

“In individuals with schizophrenia, this process appears to be altered, leading to extreme perceptual distortions, such as hearing voices that are not there,” Horga added.

hallucinations
The researchers found that elevated dopamine could make some patients rely more on expectations, which could then result in hallucinations. Pixabay

They examined how building up or breaking down sensory expectations can modify the strength of this illusion. They also measured dopamine release before and after administering a drug that stimulates the release of dopamine.

ALSO READ: Food Preservative Shows Promise In Schizophrenia Treatment

Patients with hallucinations tended to perceive sounds in a way that was more similar to what they had been cued to expect, even when sensory expectations were less reliable and illusions weakened in healthy participants, the researcher said.

This tendency to inflexibly hear what was expected was worsened after giving a dopamine-releasing drug, and more pronounced in participants with elevated dopamine release, and more apparent in participants with a smaller dorsal anterior cingulate — a brain region is previously shown to track reliability of environmental cues).

“All people have some perceptual distortions, but these results suggest that excess dopamine can exacerbate our distorted perceptions,” said Horga. (IANS)

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