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Front Psychiatry. 2013 Sep 23;4:109. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00109.

Modulation of the endocannabinoid system: vulnerability factor and new treatment target for stimulant addiction.

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1
Addiction Psychiatry Research Unit, Research Center, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) , Montreal, QC , Canada.

Abstract

Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit substance among users of stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. Interestingly, increasing recent evidence points toward the involvement of the endocannabinoid system (ECBS) in the neurobiological processes related to stimulant addiction. This article presents an up-to-date review with deep insights into the pivotal role of the ECBS in the neurobiology of stimulant addiction and the effects of its modulation on addictive behaviors. This article aims to: (1) review the role of cannabis use and ECBS modulation in the neurobiological substrates of psychostimulant addiction and (2) evaluate the potential of cannabinoid-based pharmacological strategies to treat stimulant addiction. A growing number of studies support a critical role of the ECBS and its modulation by synthetic or natural cannabinoids in various neurobiological and behavioral aspects of stimulants addiction. Thus, cannabinoids modulate brain reward systems closely involved in stimulants addiction, and provide further evidence that the cannabinoid system could be explored as a potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants.

KEYWORDS:

addiction; cannabinoids or endocannabinoids; cannabis; cocaine; psychostimulants; stimulants

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