A Meth Addiction Cure?
Meth is a particularly nasty drug to be addicted to. It keeps users up for days, until they’re hallucinating and delirious, and causes rapid and severe side effects. Just look at one of those before and after pictures to gather the true scope of meth addiction.
Well, it looks like there’s hope on the horizon! According to a new study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, an old medication may help those addicted to meth kick the habit once and for all.
The med in question is none other than Naltrexone. Not to be confused with naloxone, Naltrexone has been used for years in the treatment of both alcoholism and opioid addiction. Now, according to this new evidence, it boasts some real advantages for those addicted to meth.
Lara Ray, an Associate Professor of Psychology at UCLA, led a team of researchers looking at how Naltrexone impacted meth cravings and if it reduced euphoria associated with using the drug.
Researchers analyzed thirty participants, all of who were weekly meth users, in a hospital setting. Half of those involved received an increasing dose of Naltrexone (25 mg for two days, then 50 mg for two days) and half received a placebo.
During this trial, those receiving Naltrexone reported significantly reduced and less intense meth cravings than those receiving a placebo. At the end of the study, all participants were given meth (sounds crazy, I know). Those on Naltrexone reported less euphoria.
The same experiment was repeated ten days later, except the two groups were swapped. The findings were the same. Those taking Naltrexone were less likely to experience meth cravings and enjoyed the drug much less after taking it.
Naltrexone: Miracle Pill?
What exactly does this study mean for the future of meth treatment? Well, without becoming overly optimistic, it looks like Naltrexone offers real help to those struggling with stimulants.
This isn’t the first time Naltrexone has impressed researchers. As mentioned above, this small pill has quite a large history. It’s been used to help treat opioid addiction since 1984 and alcoholism since 1994.
Where drug like heroin or oxycodone are concerned, Naltrexone binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This makes it impossible for users to experience euphoria after using opioids, as their receptors are already “filled.” Naltrexone hasn’t been shown to significantly reduce cravings, though there is anecdotal evidence that says it does.
As for alcoholism, well, here’s where Naltrexone really shines. It’s been shown to reduce alcohol cravings and lead to significant periods of abstinence. It’s also effective at reducing alcohol consumption in those who are currently drinking. A 2006 study found that Naltrexone even reduces alcohol relapse without the addition of counseling.
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Other Possible Uses
But wait there’s more! Not only does Naltrexone help treat alcoholism, opioid addiction, and now, potentially, meth addiction, but it has a number of other uses. Bear in mind that the following have been studied far less frequently than the above.
Naltrexone has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of various behavioral addictions. These are things like self-harm, kleptomania, compulsive gambling, pornography addiction, and others.
And then there are Naltrexone’s “off-label” uses. This pill, somewhat of a medical miracle really, has shown promise in reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and adverse reactions to the Hepatitis C treatment Interferon.
Is there anything this medication can’t do? Jokes aside, there are some serious limitations to the effectiveness of Naltrexone. Namely, it has to be taken daily, in pill form, or monthly as an injection. This means that if an individual is dead set on using drugs or alcohol, they simply have to “forget” to take a dose.
For this reason, Naltrexone is best used in conjunction with other forms of addiction treatment. Things like therapy, twelve-step involvement, life skills training and others offer a holistic type of recovery. Taken together, Naltrexone and traditional forms of treatment offer a good shot at attaining, and flourishing in, sobriety.