Meth Treatment

Meth treatment, or treatment for methamphetamine addiction, is now treatable with a medication regime. According to the results of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (2021) 400 patients addicted to methamphetamine participated in a two-year clinical trial. For the first time, medical researchers demonstrated that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is effective for meth treatment.

Unlike patients recovering from opioid addiction, in which MAT is the standard of care, medication was not approved for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

Methamphetamine and MAT

In the research study, patients were treated with bupropion/naltrexone or received a placebo. The treatment assisted a statistically significant group of addicted patients. Just 2.5 percent of the patients in the placebo group reported that the treatment helped them to recover from meth addiction. These FDA-approved drugs are used in treating opioid addiction (OUD).

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, the lead medical researcher, writes that findings are sufficient to provide hope to those struggling with meth use disorders.

According to psychologists at UCLA, approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S. are currently addicted to methamphetamine drugs. The treatment regimen used in the clinical study uses two prescription drugs that were previously studied separately in meth treatment. Alone, the drugs showed limited success:

  1. Clinic study participants were given naltrexone (extended-release) and bupropion (oral)
  2. Naltrexone blocks brain opioid receptors. It is proven to reduce urges and cravings for drugs in some patients.
  3. Bupropion is frequently used to treat depressed patients.

Researchers theorize that naltrexone reduces the body’s need for meth as bupropion eases anxiety patients face in the detox period. Unless anxiety is treated, the patient’s emotional distress may trigger a drug relapse.

Like MAT used to treat OUD, prescription medications support the use of other therapies to support a drug addiction, such as behavioral therapy, personal and group counseling. The naltrexone/bupropion combination was so successful in the clinical trial, it’s expected to secure FDA approval. Some clinicians treating people in recovery may move to use the treatment now as an off-label prescription.

Methamphetamine Deaths Continue to Rise

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Meth addiction deaths increased threefold (2015-2019).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that meth deaths increased by 30 percent during pandemic lockdowns.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that cheap meth products have doubled in the U.S. (2019-2020).
  • Lack of MAT for addicts has “complicated efforts” of the DEA to lessen demand for methamphetamines.

Recovery for Meth Addiction

A comprehensive meth treatment regime includes detox, therapy, and counseling. Detox purges the chemical presence of methamphetamines from the body and helps the patient to acclimate to a life without it. Counseling addresses the damage to mind and spirit by substance abuse. It educates the recovering user about how to deal with temptation and maintain sobriety for the long term.

A comprehensive meth treatment regime includes detox, therapy, and counseling. Detox purges the chemical presence of methamphetamines from the body and helps the patient to acclimate to a life without it. Counseling addresses the damage to mind and spirit by substance abuse. It educates the recovering user about how to deal with temptation and maintain sobriety for the long term.

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