Nefazodone decreases anxiety during marijuana withdrawal in humans


Rationale. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include increased irritability, depression and anxiety, and decreased sleep quality. Nefazodone, which is an antidepressant with sedative properties, may attenuate symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.

Objective. The present within-subject, placebo-controlled study investigated the effects of nefazodone during marijuana withdrawal.

Methods. Marijuana smokers [n=7; averaging 6.0 (±1.3) marijuana cigarettes/day, 6.4 (±0.4) days/week], not seeking treatment for marijuana use, were maintained on two doses of nefazodone (0, 450 mg/day) for 26 days each. Each maintenance condition began with an outpatient phase (9 days) and continued with an inpatient phase (17 days) in a residential laboratory. Marijuana was smoked 5 times per inpatient day at 1000, 1300, 1600, 1900 and 2200 hours. On days 1–4 (baseline), the first four marijuana cigarettes were placebo (0.00% THC), while the final marijuana cigarette was active (3.04% THC). On inpatient days 5–8, only active marijuana was smoked, while on days 9–16, only placebo marijuana was smoked. Mood, psychomotor task performance, food intake and sleep were measured daily. The order of maintenance dose was counterbalanced between groups.

Results. Nefazodone maintenance did not alter the acute effects of active marijuana as compared to placebo nefazodone maintenance. During marijuana withdrawal, nefazodone decreased ratings of "Anxious", and "Muscle Pain", while having no effect on the marked increase in ratings of "Irritable", "Miserable" or decreased sleep quality.

Conclusions. Nefazodone decreased certain marijuana withdrawal symptoms, but participants still reported substantial discomfort. These data provide further evidence of marijuana withdrawal, and highlight the need for more marijuana treatment options.

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Haney, M., Hart, C.L., Ward, A.S. et al. Nefazodone decreases anxiety during marijuana withdrawal in humans. Psychopharmacology 165, 157–165 (2003).

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  • Antidepressant THC Tetrahydrocannabinol Dependence Withdrawal Treatment Human