New Medication-Assisted Treatment Options For Meth Addiction

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

Methamphetamine addiction is traditionally treated with behavioral therapy. However, new research shows a combination of two medications may also be helpful in treating meth cravings, addiction, and improving quality-of-life outcomes.

MAT For Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth addiction, also known as methamphetamine use disorder, is an illness that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans.

Treatment interventions for meth addiction have traditionally involved detoxification (detox) and behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management.

However, with meth-involved overdose deaths on the rise, researchers are also looking into medication-assisted treatment options for meth addiction.

According to a recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, at least one medication combination — naltrexone with bupropion (Wellbutrin) — is showing some promise.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a “whole-person” treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction that involves taking medication and receiving behavioral health services, like therapy.

MAT with methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone is considered the “gold standard” treatment for opioid addiction. For alcohol use disorder, naltrexone has shown to be helpful.

What Does Medication-Assisted Treatment For Meth Mean?

As of May 2022, there is no medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of meth addiction. However, research into effective medication options is underway.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, for instance, shows that a combination of oral bupropion and injectable naltrexone may help treat meth addiction.

Bupropion (the generic name for Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant medication that can help people stop smoking. It can also help reduce dysphoria.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that is used for treating addiction to opioids and/or alcohol. Researchers believe it may help block the euphoric effects of meth and reduce drug cravings.

Results Of Treating Meth Addiction With MAT

That study, funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, showed that people who received both bupropion and naltrexone for meth addiction had better treatment outcomes than those who did not.

The study was conducted over two years, from 2017 to 2019. Participants included 403 adult volunteers with meth use disorder, ranging in age from 18 to 65 years old.

It found that the combined use of bupropion and naltrexone could help:

  • reduce cravings for meth
  • improve social functioning
  • promote improved quality of life
  • prevent relapse to meth use

How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment For Meth Work?

The NIH-funded study had study participants take a dose of extended-release bupropion daily, and receive an injectable dose of naltrexone once every three weeks.

All in all, the study was conducted in two six-week stages.

Experts believe medication for meth addiction may be effective taken alone, or in combination with other treatment services, like behavioral therapy or as part of a full drug rehab program.

Where Can You Find Medication For Meth Addiction?

Options for finding medication for meth addiction are limited, due to the fact that medication is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment.

However, some treatment providers have begun offering this treatment, in an effort to help curb rising rates of drug addiction and meth-involved overdose deaths.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Portland, Oregon, for instance, told a local media outlet this year that they were beginning to offer MAT options for people with meth addiction.

What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Meth?

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that can have severe effects on physical health, as well as mental health and psychological well-being.

Risks and dangers of meth use include:

  • meth dependence
  • addiction
  • symptoms of psychosis
  • increased risk of infectious disease (i.e. from injection drug use)
  • mental health issues
  • withdrawal symptoms
  • overdose

Based on research, the most effective treatment plan for meth addiction generally involves a combination of medical care, behavioral therapy, and social services.

An example treatment plan may involve:

Overcoming meth addiction is possible with the right support.

If you have medical problems, or have a severe meth use disorder, finding an inpatient or residential treatment program that can offer a high level of support may be recommended.

Find A Meth Addiction Treatment Program Today

Meth addiction can be successfully treated. At our team of specialists work every day to connect people with addiction to treatment.

If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, we may be able to help by:

  • identifying and explaining your treatment options
  • verifying your insurance
  • finding a treatment program that best suits your needs

Call our helpline today for more information about how to find effective treatment options for meth abuse and addiction at a treatment center near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022
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