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.
© 2012 The Authors, Addiction Biology © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction.