After discovering a mechanism in the brain that shows how heavy cannabis use in teenage years might lead to psychosis, scientists have also shown how they may be able to reverse the symptoms, according to Medical News Today.
The findings were published in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.
In the US, up to 35% of teenagers smoke cannabis on a mild-to-regular basis, and while cannabis psychosis doesn’t affect every person who smokes marijuana as a teenager, it is known to quadruple the chances of users developing some mental health problems in later life.
Such problems also form a common basis for the development of addiction in later life.
After giving rats THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, the researchers found that it reduced GABA and caused neurons in the frontal cortex to become hyperactive in adulthood.
The rats thus developed ‘schizophrenia-like symptoms’ such as higher levels of anxiety and lower social motivation.
However, the breakthrough came when scientists found that they could reverse the effects in the brains of the rats by using drugs that activate GABA.
Professor Laviolette from the study said:
“What is important about this study is that not only have we identified a specific mechanism in the prefrontal cortex for some of the mental health risks associated with adolescent marijuana use, but we have also identified a mechanism to reverse those risks.”