Methamphetamine: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Monday, 1. June 2009 - 6:21 am

Many addiction specialists believe that methamphetamine addiction is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, illegal drug addictions to treat. Methamphetamines affect the brain of addicts in many ways, and actually causes marked brain changes and damage. Because of its powerful effects, methamphetamine is one of the most addictive illegal substances on the streets today. It may take months to years for people to get over long-term withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and craving for the drug.
Currently, the most effective form of treatment for methamphetamine addiction appears to be cognitive behavioral interventions in a controlled treatment center. Cognitive behavioral interventions are designed to help modify and change a person’s thinking processes, along with their expectations, behaviors, and skills in coping with the various stresses of life. Methamphetamine support groups have also been useful in keeping people off drugs for long periods of time.
There are currently no medications that can be given to methamphetamine addicts to help them quit their habit. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is currently testing several medications and substances in hopes that they will provide some help in treating methamphetamine addiction, including selegiline, which is a medication that increases dopamine levels in the brain and is currently used in treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. Another substance is hydergine, which increases blood flow to the brain and is used to help patients with Alzheimer’s dementia and those recovering from strokes. Other, more experimental substances include DADLE (D-Ala2,D-Leu5), which is a synthetic brain chemical that has been shown to block and reverse methamphetamine-induced brain damage in mice; glial-derived neuro-trophic factor, which has been shown to decrease methamphetamine’s neurotoxic effects in monkeys; and natural and/or synthetic antioxidants, which have been shown to decrease or prevent methamphetamine’s neurotoxic effects in mice.

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