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Treatment of Cannabis Use Disorders: A Review of the Literature

Authors

  • Benjamin R. Nordstrom MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York
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  • Frances R. Levin MD

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York
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Address correspondence to Dr. Nordstrom, NYSPI P.O. Box 66, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY, 10032. bn2003@columbia.edu.

Abstract

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. Despite the fact that there are large numbers of people with cannabis dependence, relatively little attention has been paid to the treatment of this condition. This article seeks to critically review the existing literature about the various psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments of cannabis dependence. We begin with a discussion of the early treatment literature which draws primarily from anecdotal experience and open, uncontrolled trials and proceed through two recent, large, randomized controlled trials of psychotherapies for the treatment of cannabis dependence. We conclude that while a number of psychotherapies have been found to be effective in treating this disorder, with the exception of adding vouchers to reinforce negative urine toxicology screens, no form of psychotherapy has been found to be more effective than any other. In addition, we review the only two clinical pharmacotherapy trials for cannabis dependence as well as the pre-clinical laboratory pharmacotherapy trials in cannabis dependent individuals. We also review pertinent dual-diagnosis pharmacotherapy trials and discuss potential future directions in treatment research for the pharmacotherapy of cannabis dependence.

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