Addiction scientists have long searched for a safe chemical means to turn off the brain’s desire to use illicit drugs. Recent research reported by Smithsonian magazine indicates that kynurenic acid treatment blocks the desire to use marijuana in rats and monkeys, and although FDA approval is likely years away, this chemical has the potential to revolutionize the way physicians and addiction professionals treat marijuana addiction.
The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, measured the response of rats dosed with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, and kynurenic acid, a naturally occurring brain chemical. The researchers found that kynurenic acid reduced the release of dopamine, which is the brain’s natural feel-good chemical. A follow up experiment showed that self-medicated, THC-dosed monkeys who received the kynurenic acid reduced future marijuana intake by about 80 percent.
The scientists behind the study suspect that kynurenic acid makes marijuana less effective in the brain, thus reducing the chances that one could become the victim of marijuana addiction. When the kynurenic acid wore off, both the rats and the monkeys immediately began self-medicating with marijuana. Perhaps most interestingly, in a separate study, rats and monkeys who received kynurenic acid before being offered THC were much less likely to relapse into addictive behavior — offering enormous implications for the successful treatment of marijuana abuse.
“When we looked at behavior, simply increasing kynurenic acid levels totally blocked the abuse potential and the chance of relapse,” said University of Maryland neuroscientist Robert Schwarcz. “It’s a totally new approach to affecting THC function.”
How to Stop Using Marijuana
Although kynurenic acid is not currently available to people suffering from marijuana addiction, there is hope for people who want to quit using the drug. Holistic inpatient rehabilitation offers people who abuse marijuana the opportunity to uncover why they started using drugs to begin with. At Clarity Way, we design a customized recovery program for each of our clients, help them rebuild trust with the people they care for the most, and become active participants in a comprehensive Aftercare program so staying off marijuana outside of rehab is easier.