Recent research shows that a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has the potential to help people recover from methamphetamine abuse.
Lisdexamfetamine, sold under the brand name Vyvanse, demonstrates the potential to support treatment for methamphetamine addiction, but further studies are needed.
Research On Vyvanse And Meth Addiction
Currently, there isn’t a medication approved to treat methamphetamine withdrawal or methamphetamine addiction, but ongoing research into the use of Vyvanse could change that.
One study showed that Vyvanse was effective in helping manage acute withdrawal symptoms during meth detoxification.
Another study showed that the same ADHD medication helped people with meth addiction avoid hospitalizations and all causes of death.
More studies are required to determine the safety of using Vyvanse in meth addiction treatment, as the drug comes with its own potential for abuse.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) For Meth Abuse
Helpful for many people in overcoming addiction, MAT uses medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
The use of these medications is combined with behavioral therapy to address underlying thoughts and beliefs related to addiction for a comprehensive approach.
MAT is currently available for the treatment of alcohol and opioid use disorders, but the new research indicates that MAT might also be a treatment option for meth addiction.
MAT And Meth Detoxification
All substance use disorders require a period of detoxification as the substance leaves the body as a result of the person stopping or greatly reducing their use of the substance.
This can be a critical time in the healing process, as difficult withdrawal symptoms may cause a person to go back to taking the substance to make the symptoms stop.
For meth addiction, the acute withdrawal phase, which is typically synonymous with withdrawal, is one of the longer drug detox processes, lasting up to two weeks.
Withdrawal symptoms for methamphetamine include:
- abnormal sleeping
- itchy, red eyes
- intense cravings
- increased appetite
Medications can help manage withdrawal symptoms, making the detox process safer and more comfortable so that people can focus on further addiction treatment, including therapy.
Concluded last year, the first clinical trial of lisdexamfetamine in the treatment of methamphetamine withdrawal showed promising results.
Participants found the ADHD medication to be acceptable, and it was considered safe and effective in managing withdrawal symptoms. More research is needed to validate these findings.
MAT And Long-Term Meth Abuse Treatment
Having a successful detoxification process in itself can be essential to achieving sobriety.
However, a second study involving Vyvanse and meth addiction also showed promising results for later stages of recovery.
The Swedish study involved almost 14,000 people who were diagnosed with meth or amphetamine addiction. They were given various medications as treatment.
Those who were prescribed lisdexamfetamine were the only ones who showed a significantly reduced risk for all three hospitalization and mortality outcomes.
Those risks included:
- hospitalizations due to meth addiction
- any hospitalization or death
- all causes of mortality
These findings are particularly significant because meth addiction comes with increased risks for serious health concerns and death.
Potential Benefits Of MAT For Meth Use Disorders
Like MAT for alcohol and opioid addictions, MAT for meth abuse would provide considerable benefits for people looking to recover from substance abuse.
Improved Outcomes For Long-Term Sobriety
If Vyvanse or another medication were to be FDA-approved for treating meth addiction, people would have an additional path to achieving and maintaining sobriety.
Substance use disorders are considered chronic conditions that are treatable but not curable. Long-term recovery is the goal.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recovery happens when an individual experiences a dramatic shift from negative to positive expectations.
MAT can play a significant role in instigating this shift in the initial stages of recovery with a successful, more comfortable withdrawal process.
It can also add to positive expectations by preventing relapses or providing an additional course of action if they do occur.
Reduced Risk Of Other Diseases And Complications
Meth addiction comes with increased health risks, including permanent damage to the heart and brain.
The method of ingestion also brings specific health risks. People who inject meth intravenously have an increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C.
One study linked meth use with immune dysfunction, with researchers stating that immunosuppression might explain why people who abuse meth and contract HIV tend to develop AIDS more quickly than others.
Other health risks associated with meth abuse include:
- weight loss
- slow-healing sores
- heart attack
- tooth decay and other oral health issues (“meth mouth”)
- violent behavior
MAT could help people struggling with meth abuse detox safely and successfully in addition to supporting sobriety. This application could help them avoid serious health risks.
Reduced Risk Of Overdose And Death
Fatal overdose is the most serious risk of meth use and abuse, and the best way to prevent an overdose is to seek addiction treatment.
Along with fatal overdoses from opioids, overdose deaths from the use of meth and other stimulant drugs have also been on the rise in recent years.
As the Swedish study showed, lisdexamfetamine treatment, even without supportive behavioral therapy, resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths.
Potential Drawbacks To Medications For Meth Addiction
The use of medications in addiction treatment does come with considerations to keep in mind.
Like all treatment approaches, MAT is not the best course of treatment for all people with alcohol, opioid, or methamphetamine use disorders.
All medications come with health risks, and these risks must be weighed against what the person would gain through the use of the medication.
Side Effects Of Vyvanse
Lisdexamfetamine is a stimulant medication that comes with potential side effects that may or may not require medical attention.
Common side effects of lisdexamfetamine include:
- weight gain
- stomach or upper abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
Rarer side effects of lisdexamfetamine include:
- unusual drowsiness
- crying episodes
- dry mouth
- rapidly changing moods
Potential For Abuse
Lisdexamfetamine may have the ability to cause psychological dependence, meaning that its use could be habit-forming.
At high doses, lisdexamfetamine has been reported to cause euphoria. Euphoria is also listed as a less common side effect of its use.
Addiction treatment providers should factor in lisdexamfetamine’s potential for abuse if the medication is approved for the treatment of meth abuse.
Get Help For Meth Addiction Today
If you or a loved one is experiencing meth addiction, treatment is available and recovery is possible. Call us today to learn more.
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- Biomolecules & Therapeutics
- Drug and Alcohol Dependence
- JAMA Psychiatry
- Mayo Clinic
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)