Treatment admissions for cannabis use disorders have risen considerably over the last few years, globally and within Australia. There is currently no effective pharmacotherapy for cannabis dependence, and very low abstinence rates reported from psychotherapy alone. A defined cannabis withdrawal syndrome has been identified, and while it is not life threatening, the discomfort it causes is reported to contribute to the high incidence of relapse amongst the cannabis using population. As such cannabis withdrawal may be an important intervention target for dependence on the drug. This study represents the world’s first safety and efficacy trial of a novel agonist medication (Sativex®) for alleviating the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal.
This study is a phase II, multi-site, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled inpatient trial. The trial will involve 50 treatment-seeking, cannabis dependent adults.
Recruitment of 51 DSM-IV dependent cannabis smokers who were seeking treatment for their cannabis use was completed in October 2012 and data collection completed the following month. The data are currently being cleaned and analysed ready for publication in 2013.
Oral presentation to the Cannabis Withdrawal workshop at the November 2012 APSAD meeting in Melbourne.
The project may pave the way for the development of the first medication of its type used to alleviate cannabis withdrawal symptoms.