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Reducing Cannabis Overuse With Prazosin

Reducing Cannabis Overuse With Prazosin

Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a significant and expanding health problem, and no FDA approved treatments are currently available. Persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may use cannabis to help control symptoms. Relief from PTSD insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, and preoccupying thoughts have been reported as troublesome symptoms targeted by cannabis users. Risks from cannabis use by individuals with PTSD have been reported. Chronic use of cannabis can lead to tolerance, requiring increased use for symptom relief, and withdrawal symptoms upon stopping. CUD is more frequent and severe in those with PTSD than those without. Many symptoms of cannabis withdrawal overlap with troubling symptoms of PTSD and thus may be interpreted as a relapse of PTSD symptoms. Those attempting to reduce or stop cannabis use may experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms including insomnia and distressing dreams, anxiety, irritability, and/or excessive sweating that they may misattribute to re-emerging or untreated PTSD symptoms.

Excessive brain adrenaline activity is arguably the best-described neurobiological contribution to the pathophysiology of PTSD. Prazosin, a drug that blocks the negative effects of brain adrenaline, has demonstrated effectiveness in robustly reducing PTSD-related nightmares and sleep disturbance in active duty Servicemembers and recently discharged combat Veterans in most, but not all, clinical trials, as well as in civilians with non-combat trauma. Clinically, the investigators have observed that several patients with PTSD using cannabis to treat insomnia and/or trauma-related nightmares and wanting to reduce their cannabis use were able to achieve reduction or cessation of cannabis use once they were treated with an effective dose of prazosin. Therefore, we have wondered if prazosin may provide sufficient treatment of PTSD symptoms otherwise targeted by cannabis, supporting those individuals' efforts to reduce cannabis use.

This open-label pilot study aims to study the feasibility of prazosin as a treatment for CUD in individuals with or without comorbid PTSD, and to evaluate if additional research on a larger scale is warranted.

Participant Eligibility

All persons between 21 and 65; able to complete self-assessments and other clinical assessments in English; minimum of 4 days/week cannabis use; endorse desire to reduce or stop cannabis use; good general health; can have diagnosis of PTSD


Manard Stewart
(206) 265-1311

Additional Study Details

Full Study Title
Pilot study to assess the feasibility of prazosin for cannabis use disorder in individuals with or without post-traumatic stress disorder

Study ID: 01893
Start Date: 11/09/2020
End Date: 06/30/2021

PI Garth Terry, MD, PhD
Co-PI Murray Raskind, MD
Co-PI Elaine Peskind, MD
Co-PI Andrew Saxon, MD
Co-PI Kendall Browne, PhD
Co-PI Rebecca Hendrickson, MD, PhD

Accepts Healthy Volunteers?

Study Site(s)

VA Puget Sound Health Care Seattle

1660 South Columbian Way MIRECC, Building 101
Seattle, Washington 98108


Use the link below to send a message to the study coordinator, or call the number above to speak directly with a study representative.

I am interested in this research study.