A human laboratory study investigating the effects of quetiapine on marijuana withdrawal and relapse in daily marijuana smokers

Addict Biol. 2013 Nov;18(6):993-1002. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00461.x. Epub 2012 Jun 28.


Marijuana withdrawal contributes to the high relapse rates in individuals seeking treatment for marijuana-use disorders. Quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic, reduces characteristic symptoms of marijuana withdrawal in a variety of psychiatric conditions, including mood lability, sleep disruption and anorexia. This human laboratory study investigated the effectiveness of quetiapine to decrease marijuana withdrawal and relapse to marijuana use in non-treatment-seeking marijuana smokers. Volunteers were maintained on placebo or quetiapine (200 mg/day) in this double-blind, counter-balanced, within-subject study consisting of two 15-day medication phases, the last 8 days of which were in-patient. On the first in-patient day, active marijuana [6.2% delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)] was repeatedly smoked under controlled conditions. For the next 3 days, inactive marijuana (0.0% THC) was available for self-administration (withdrawal). On the subsequent 4 days, active marijuana (6.2% THC) was available for self-administration (relapse). Volunteers (n = 14) who smoked an average of 10 marijuana cigarettes/day, 7 days/week, completed the study. Under placebo, withdrawal was marked by increased subjective ratings of negative mood, decreased sleep quality, and decreased caloric intake and weight loss. Compared with placebo, quetiapine improved sleep quality, increased caloric intake and decreased weight loss. However, quetiapine increased marijuana craving and marijuana self-administration during the relapse phase. These data do not suggest that quetiapine shows promise as a potential treatment for marijuana dependence.

Keywords: Marijuana; relapse; withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anorexia / chemically induced
  • Anorexia / drug therapy*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dibenzothiazepines / administration & dosage
  • Dibenzothiazepines / pharmacology
  • Dibenzothiazepines / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Placebos
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Quetiapine Fumarate
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Self Administration / statistics & numerical data
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / chemically induced
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Weight Loss / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Dibenzothiazepines
  • Placebos
  • Quetiapine Fumarate
  • Dronabinol