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Craving is associated with amygdala volumes in adolescent marijuana users during abstinence.

  • Author(s): Padula, Claudia B
  • McQueeny, Tim
  • Lisdahl, Krista M
  • Price, Jenessa S
  • Tapert, Susan F
  • et al.

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Amygdala volume abnormalities have been reported in relation to craving in substance-dependent adults, but it remains unclear if these effects are seen in adolescent marijuana (MJ) users, particularly following abstinence.The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between amygdala volume and craving during 28 days of abstinence in adolescent MJ users.MJ-using adolescents (n = 22) aged 16-19 were recruited as part of a larger study on brain function in teen drug users. Craving measures were collected twice per week throughout a 28-day abstinence period. High-resolution anatomical magnetic resonance imaging data were collected at the end of the 28 days of confirmed abstinence. Left and right amygdala volumes were traced by hand (ICC > 0.86). Composite scores for self-reported craving and withdrawal symptoms throughout the 28-day abstinence period were calculated to provide four composite measures of total craving, mood, sleep, and somatic complaints.Results revealed that greater craving during abstinence was significantly associated with smaller left and right amygdala volumes, after controlling for age and gender. Other measures of withdrawal, including mood, somatic complaints and sleep problems, were not related to amygdala morphometry.These results are consistent with previous findings in adult alcohol- and cocaine-dependent individuals, who demonstrated a relationship between reduced amygdala volumes and increased craving. Future studies are needed to determine if these brain-behavior relationships are attributable to MJ use or predate the onset of substance use.

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