Addiction Treatment

At this time there is no FDA approved pharmacotherapy for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. The addictive effects of meth are presumed to be due to dopamine receptor down regulation resulting from chronic exposure to meth. A number of drugs are in animal studies or clinical trials:
Recent animal studies indicate a neurotoxic effect when haloperidol is administered in combination with methamphetamine. The neurotoxic effects occur in the substantia nigra, potenially increasing seizures and movement disorders. These effects do not occur when either drug is administered alone.

Acute methamphetamine treatment focuses on providing supportive treatment in a safe and a quiet environment. Patients may require a benzodiazepine for anxiety, sodium nitroprusside for severe hypertension, antipsychotics such as haloperidol to reduce the agitation and psychosis. Urine acidification with ammonium chloride may be used to accelerate metabolite (amphetamine) excretion.

When the client is medically stable, he/she will need evaluation for addiction, and a plan for recovery. A successful plan may require a multidisciplinary team including: psychiatrists, physicians, addiction counselors, nutritionists, social workers, occupational and recreational therapist, nurses and others, according to the needs of the client.

Recovery is a long process that involves learning to live without meth. Distorted thinking and values resulting from meth abuse need to be addressed. Cognitive and behavioral interventions designed to help modify thinking and behaviors, and to increases skills in coping with various life stresses, have been found effective.

Most meth addicts will need some type of formal treatment to acheive abstinence. The treatment setting may be inpatient or outpatient, depending of economics or the severity of the addiction. Successful treatment settings are structured to develop a strong cohesiveness with others. The recovering patient ideally develops a support system that can be relied on instead of meth. One important task of treatment is the identification of triggers that initiate the client's desire for meth. Relapse is a part of the disease of addiction; eventually the addict will have a desire to use meth. A strategy to maintain abstinence needs to be implemented when cravings develop. Support people and groups need to be utilized. In addition some individuals will require psychotherapy to resolve issues or underlying psychiatric disorders.

Common components of treatment include: