Addiction to methamphetamine, or crystal meth, affects millions of Americans each year. And while getting off meth is incredibly difficult, it becomes easier with professional addiction treatment. Of course, the outlook for meth addiction recovery may look different depending on where you get help, and there is some debate as to what makes the best treatment for meth addiction.
Today, we’re examining new findings about naltrexone for meth addiction, as well as other emerging treatments for meth abuse.
What Is Naltrexone?
If you’ve heard of Naltrexone before, it was probably in the context of opioid addiction. This is because naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it stops the brain’s receptors from chemically reacting to opioids. For this reason, it is a popular drug for those trying to quit opioids. Most commonly, this drug is used after an individual has gone through opioid detox, and it helps people fight the temptation to relapse.
However, naltrexone can help with more than just opioid addiction. In recent years, it has become a useful tool for treating alcohol addiction as well. Its chemical effects remove a lot of the “buzz” that comes from drinking alcohol, which helps people resist relapsing. Moreover, there is some evidence that it can help lower cravings for alcohol in those who have already quit drinking.
And now, it looks like naltrexone may have exciting new applications as a methamphetamine treatment. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that when applied alongside bupropion taken orally, injectable naltrexone can help individuals quit meth for good.
Let’s examine the findings of this study and the reasons why many researchers are taking interest in this new meth addiction recovery treatment.
Naltrexone and Bupropion for Meth Addiction Recovery
We’ve covered the history of naltrexone for treating substance use disorders, but bupropion has its own recovery applications. While it is an antidepressant and thus usually used in cases of chronic depression or anxiety, bupropion has also proven effective as a tool in helping people quit smoking nicotine. And as new evidence shows, its ability to balance brain chemistry may significantly help people receiving treatment at meth rehab centers.
In the study referenced above, 403 adult volunteers were examined between the years 2017 and 2019. For each volunteer, they underwent study for two six-week periods. During each stage, volunteers who received treatment were administered an injection of naltrexone once every three weeks and took extended-release bupropion every day. To compare the effectiveness of this new treatment, a control group was given placebo shots and pills to take every day during the same period.
This study was conducted double blind, meaning that not even the researchers knew who had taken the real medication and who took the placebos. Steps like this help ensure that researcher bias does not taint the results, and they make the findings of this study all the more exciting.
The treatment group that received real naltrexone and bupropion experienced much better results than the control group. During check-ups during weeks five and six, 16.5% of individuals in the treatment group screened as negative for meth use in a urine test, compared to only 3.4% of those in the group that received placebos. At another check-up in weeks 11 and 12, 11.4% of the treatment group tested negative for methamphetamine, compared to just 1.8% of the other group.
Clearly, naltrexone and bupropion is not the perfect meth addiction treatment medication for everyone. However, it did prove effective at helping people getting off meth, and it’s important to remember that no medication(s) will work for everyone. Brain chemistry is complicated, and different people respond differently to the same medication. In this way, naltrexone and bupropion can be thought of as another tool for individuals to use in meth addiction recovery.
How to Get Off Meth
As we’ve seen, even the best results do not mean that there is a magic solution that helps people quit meth in 100% of cases. However, individuals often show great results in quitting meth when they combine different evidence-based treatment options.
For example, someone taking naltrexone and bupropion for meth addiction may only expect an 11.4% of staying off meth at 12 weeks. But their odds can go up when they add in other treatment options, like cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy activities. And this is the real benefit of many meth addiction treatment programs, since they provide a safe and drug-free environment to pursue various types of addiction treatment.
Why are multiple treatment modalities necessary? Well, mental health and addiction are often closely connected, and in most cases, no single medication can completely resolve a mental health condition. Rather, people often require a lot of time and professional guidance to sort through mental health issues, and the same rule applies to addiction. At Ridgeview Behavioral Hospital, this kind of comprehensive care is exactly what we provide in our treatment program for co-occurring disorders.
Our program for co-occurring disorders provides the skills that help people quit and stay off of meth. By addressing underlying mental health issues, we restore sobriety as well as mental stability. And this is important, since meth psychosis is a mental health and addiction issue that plagues many meth users.
At our meth rehab in Middle Point, Ohio, we provide holistic, comprehensive care that addresses both mental health issues and meth use disorders. Pursuing meth addiction recovery is a major decision, and we’re ready to help you on your way to recovery.