Meds can help recovering meth addicts stay sober

(Medical Xpress) -- A drug shown to help break alcohol addiction can also help recovering methamphetamine addicts stay clean, a study led by University of Virginia School of Medicine researcher Dr. Bankole A. Johnson has found.

The , conducted at U.Va. and seven other sites around the country, evaluated 140 addicts to determine the effectiveness of the drug topiramate in treating their addiction. were given either topiramate or a . The study found that while topiramate does not eliminate meth addiction, it can reduce the amount of meth taken and reduce in those who have quit.

"Once a person stops, even for a few days, topiramate significantly increases their chances for not relapsing," Johnson, the study's principal investigator, said. "That's very important, because relapse prevention is an important component of addiction medicine. We try to get people drug-free, and then we want to give them something to take away with them to maintain that drug-free status. So this is one way in which that can be done.”

Johnson, a pioneer in addiction research, first explored the theory that medications could treat addictions more than two decades ago. That idea, met with skepticism at first, has since transformed how many scientists think about addiction's relationship with the workings of the brain.

In a previous clinical trial, Johnson and his team successfully treated alcoholism by using topiramate to block the brain's dopamine pathways. The study found that the drug not only reduced heavy drinking, but diminished the physical and psychosocial harm caused by alcoholism.

"Our goal is to try and develop medicines to treat addiction," Johnson said. "We've had a lot of success with alcohol treatments, less so with stimulants. So this methamphetamine study is the first time we're beginning to find drugs that actually help."

Johnson's new findings on topiramate's effect on meth addiction are being published in the July issue of the journal Addiction. He plans to explore topiramate's effect on meth addiction further in a larger study.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toward a vaccine for methamphetamine abuse

May 11, 2011

Scientists are reporting development of three promising formulations that could be used in a vaccine to treat methamphetamine addiction — one of the most serious drug abuse problems in the U.S. The report ...

Alcohol use curbed by anti-nausea medication, study finds

Jan 25, 2011

Alcoholics who were given a medication approved for quelling nausea were able to cut back on their alcohol intake, researchers reported this week. The medication, ondansetron (Zofran), could become a readily available therapy ...

Meth addiction mechanism discovered

Apr 09, 2008

Researchers have identified, for the first time, long-term changes in the brain circuitry of methamphetamine-addicted mice that can explain why the craving of addiction is so stubborn and long-lived. The research could lead ...

Recommended for you

Study confirms breast cancer link to low alcohol use

Sep 26, 2014

A newly published study from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) confirms that moderate drinkers have an increased risk of breast cancer. The study shows that consuming an average of ...

Not all Hispanics are the same when it comes to drinking

Sep 25, 2014

Hispanics are often grouped into a single category when it comes to alcohol use. Yet a new Michigan State University study indicates that the risk of alcohol abuse and dependence can vary significantly among different subgroups ...

Researchers find NAS treatment needs standardization

Sep 25, 2014

When it comes to treating infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) believe the care for these infants should be consistent and objective, with standardized ...

User comments