Marijuana addiction linked to specific gene; study to help in identification and treatment

Marijuana addiction linked to specific gene; study to help in identification and treatment

July 26, 2019

Marijuana addiction linked to specific gene; study to help in identification and treatment

Addiction Marijuana Substance Abuse

A gene which might increase the risk of an individual getting addicted to marijuana has recently been identified by a group of researchers from Denmark. After thorough examination of genetic data collected from over thousands of people, the group was able to observe a potential genetic cause for marijuana use disorder (MUD), establishing that an addiction to cannabis may be hereditary in nature.

The researchers found that people battling a MUD were more likely to have different variants of the CHRNA2 gene. CHRNA2 is responsible for the regulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the human brain, which react to both drugs and the chemical messengers that are sent between nerve cells. Low level of this receptor was found to be related with an increased risk of marijuana abuse.

People from the field of medicine have praised the study stating that the findings might help in identifying people who may be at a higher risk of addiction to marijuana and also provide improved treatment modalities.

Certain variant of CHRNA2 increased risk of marijuana addiction

The researchers from the Aarhus University compared genetic data collected from 2,387 marijuana users with 48,985 non users. The study was then repeated with 5,501 users and 301,041 non users. The data obtained was compared with other studies on DNA and thinking skills. The main focus of the study was to see if a specific DNA was responsible for addiction to marijuana.

The study indicated that individuals with a higher number of variants for CHRNA2 were more prone to marijuana use. Lead author Dr. Ditte Demontis said that more research was needed to understand how the genetic alterations in the human genome added to the development of marijuana abuse. He said that it was important to chart out the specific biological mechanisms that made some individuals more susceptible to marijuana or any other substance than others, thus improving treatment and prevention as well.

Though not involved in the study, Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York applauded the findings. Speaking to MailOne, a UK based e-newspaper, Hamilton said that by separating the gene associated with marijuana dependence, the researchers had done a magnificent job. The findings suggested that though not everyone with the particular variant of CHRNA2 was bound to be dependent on marijuana, such individuals were at a higher risk of dependence in case they used marijuana.

The findings have opened up the possibility of identifying those at risk, thus allowing physicians to discuss and counsel them in order to prevent use. Hamilton further said that until the study, there was no research on how to identify individuals with a high risk of dependency and people had to wait for specialized treatment.

High risks of marijuana abuse

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report approximately 4.1 million Americans aged 12 years or over had a MUD. When someone suffers significant impairment, like health risks, persistent cravings and use, and not fulfilling work, family, and relationship responsibilities due to recurrent use of cannabis, they are said to be suffering from a MUD.

Marijuana use can lead to a variety of physical disorders and psychological illnesses such as:

  • Memory retention problem
  • Increased heart rate
  • Respiratory disorders like bronchitis
  • Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Changes in blood sugar level
  • Impaired body motor function
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Seeking treatment for marijuana addiction

Addiction to any kind of a drug is a curse. Marijuana, being the most preferred drug of use owing to its legal status in some states and the belief that it is herbal, is no different. However, an addiction to marijuana can be overcome with the help of professional care. A comprehensive treatment program for marijuana addiction comprises medically assisted detoxification treatment at a reputable treatment center. This is followed by behavioral counseling and alternative therapies administered under specialized care. While a detox program helps flush out the drug and associated toxins from the system, manage the withdrawal symptoms, and prepare the body and the mind for further treatment, behavioral therapies, and counseling help change the negative thought process and avoid relapse.

If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to marijuana and is looking for a state-of-the-art detox treatment center, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member of our team to understand the various detox and rehab programs that our network facilities offer. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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