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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Apr;18(2):109-19. doi: 10.1037/a0019295.

Cognitive function as an emerging treatment target for marijuana addiction.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, and VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA.


Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in the world, and demand for effective treatment is increasing. However, abstinence rates following behavioral therapies have been modest, and there are no effective pharmacotherapies for the treatment of cannabis addiction. We propose a novel research agenda and a potential treatment strategy, based on observations that both acute and chronic exposure to cannabis are associated with dose-related cognitive impairments, most consistently in attention, working memory, verbal learning, and memory functions. These impairments are not completely reversible upon cessation of marijuana use, and moreover may interfere with the treatment of marijuana addiction. Therefore, targeting cognitive impairment associated with chronic marijuana use may be a promising novel strategy for the treatment of marijuana addiction. Preclinical studies suggest that medications enhancing the cholinergic transmission may attenuate cannabis-induced cognitive impairments, but these cognitive enhancing medications have not been examined in controlled human studies. Preliminary evidence from individuals addicted to other drugs suggests that computerized cognitive rehabilitation may also have utility to improve cognitive function in marijuana users. Future clinical studies optimally designed to measure cognitive function as well as drug use behavior would be needed to test the efficacy of these treatments for marijuana addiction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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