Effects of fixed or self-titrated dosages of Sativex on cannabis withdrawal and cravings.Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Apr 01; 161:298-306.DA
There is currently no pharmacological treatment approved for cannabis dependence. In this proof of concept study, we assessed the feasibility/effects of fixed and self-titrated dosages of Sativex (1:1, Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/cannabidiol (CBD)) on craving and withdrawal from cannabis among nine community-recruited cannabis-dependent subjects.
Participants underwent an 8-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial (an ABACADAE design), with four smoke as usual conditions (SAU) (A) separated by four cannabis abstinence conditions (B-E), with administration of either self-titrated/fixed doses of placebo or Sativex (up to 108 mg THC/100 mg CBD). The order of medication administration during abstinence conditions was randomized and counterbalanced. Withdrawal symptoms and craving were assessed using the Cannabis Withdrawal Scale (CWS), Marijuana Withdrawal Checklist (MWC) and Marijuana Craving Questionnaire (MCQ). Medication use was assessed during the study by means of self-reports, vial weight control, toxicology and metabolite analysis. Cannabis use was assessed by means of self-reports.
High fixed doses of Sativex were well tolerated and significantly reduced cannabis withdrawal during abstinence, but not craving, as compared to placebo. Self-titrated doses were lower and showed limited efficacy as compared to high fixed doses. Participants reported a significantly lower "high" following Sativex or placebo as compared to SAU conditions. Cannabis/medication use along the study, as per self-reports, suggests compliance with the study conditions.
The results found in this proof of concept study warrant further systematic exploration of Sativex as a treatment option for cannabis withdrawal and dependence.