Scientists searching for ways to help people quit smoking pot have come up with an effective new buzz killer. The treatment involves a naturally occurring chemical that blocks marijuana's effect on the brain's pleasure centers, Smithsonian magazine explains. Researchers say the kynurenic acid treatment was able to block the effects of THC in some extremely stoned rats, and when it was tested on pot-addicted monkeys, they stopped hammering the levers that delivered a dose and voluntarily cut their consumption by around 80%.
Increasing the level of kynurenic acid "totally blocked the abuse potential and the chance of relapse," says the neuroscientist who co-authored the study. The human brain is so complex that any FDA-approved treatment involving the chemical will probably have to wait until much more research is done, he says, though it appears possible that the same treatment will help people addicted to other drugs. "Currently, we’re doing some experiments with nicotine abuse, and there’s some very interesting preliminary data indicating it may work the same way," he says.