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Psychiatrist.comThe Use of Dispensary-Obtained Tetrahydrocannabinol as a Treatment for Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia

Study Reveals THC as a Viable Alternative to Antipsychotics for Treating Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms

A recent study has shed light on the potential of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), obtained from commercial dispensaries, in treating neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) commonly associated with dementia. The research provides valuable insights into THC’s effectiveness, caregiver adoption rates, and its impact on antipsychotic medication use.

HCN Medical Memo
For healthcare professionals working in geriatric psychiatry, this study suggests that THC could be a viable alternative to antipsychotics for managing certain NPS in dementia patients. The high caregiver uptake and the potential to reduce antipsychotic use make it worth considering in treatment plans, although caution is advised due to possible adverse reactions.

Study Design
  • Participants: 50 patients with diagnosed dementia seen in geriatric psychiatry between 2017 and 2021.
  • Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of dispensary-obtained THC in treating NPS in dementia patients.
  • Secondary Outcomes: Caregiver uptake, post-THC antipsychotic use, and adverse reactions leading to treatment discontinuation.

According to the World Health Organization, the global population of people aged 60 years and older is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050, up from 900 million in 2015.

Key Findings
  • High caregiver uptake: 76% (38/50) of caregivers obtained and administered THC.
  • Effectiveness: 79% (30/38) of patients who took THC showed an improvement in NPS.
  • Antipsychotic Reduction: 60% (12/20) of patients on antipsychotics were able to decrease or discontinue the medication.
  • Adverse Reactions: Included dizziness, worsening of agitation, and paranoia; two cases led to treatment discontinuation.

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