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Brain dopamine release reduced in severe marijuana dependence

Science Spotlight

March 22, 2016

PET-CT axial scan of the brain ©istockphoto/wenht

NIDA-funded research using brain scans shows that severe marijuana dependence (now referred to as cannabis use disorder) is associated with a reduced release of dopamine within the striatum, a region involved in working memory, impulsivity and attention. Lower dopamine release within the striatum was associated with greater emotional withdrawal and inattention in marijuana-dependent participants.

Most drugs of abuse lead to a general blunting of dopamine release which contributes to poor outcomes. These results are similar to those found with other behavioral health disorders, suggesting a similar mechanism underlying these deficits across conditions. The reduction in dopamine release for marijuana-dependent participants, compared to those who were not dependent, was not due to major psychiatric illnesses, or to the use of other drugs, since participants with these characteristics were excluded from the study.

For a copy of the abstract, "Deficits in striatal dopamine release in cannabis dependence," co-authored by NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and published in Molecular Psychiatry, go to www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/mp201621a.html.

For more information about marijuana and marijuana use disorder, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2016, March 22). Brain dopamine release reduced in severe marijuana dependence. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2016/03/brain-dopamine-release-reduced-in-severe-marijuana-dependence

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