Methamphetamine Addiction

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) established the Methamphetamine Clinical Trials Group (MCTG) to conduct studies of medications for methamphetamine.


Paxil
(Paroxetine or Pexeva)

What it does: An antidepressant, Paxil was found to decrease methamphetamine craving

How it works: Paxil contains the compound ondansetron that can block the effects of methamphetamine withdrawal.

Side effects: Headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, constipation and heartburn
For a more complete list of side effects visit this NIH page.

Availability: Physician prescription

Research: In one study the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) was found to decrease methamphetamine craving compared to placebo.
Piasecki MP, Steinagel GM, Thienhaus OJ, Kohlenberg BS. An exploratory study: the use of paroxetine for methamphetamine craving. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2002 Jul-Sep;34(3):301-4.

Studies done at the National Institute of Drug Abuse have shown that Paxil can lessen withdrawal symptoms.

For more information: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a698032.html

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Modafinil (Provigil®)

What it does: May be effective in treating sleep disorders and methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms and improving cognitive function

How it works: This central nervous system stimulant is chemically and pharmacologically dissimilar to other stimulants such as the amphetamines. The dopamine- and glutamate-enhancing actions of modafinil may help reduce withdrawal severity. The stimulant properties of modafinil may also ease the disturbed sleep patterns, poor concentration and low energy levels characteristic of methamphetamine withdrawal. It is well tolerated and has low abuse liability.

Side effects: Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, constipation and heartburn
For a more complete list of side effects visit this NIH page.

Availability: Physician prescription

Research: Modafinil is an important drug being studied which appears to improve cognitive functioning and may also complement behavioral counseling for methamphetamine abuse. drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

In a pilot study 80 methamphetamine-dependent patients received either modafinil (200 mg a day) or placebo for 10 weeks and 12 weeks post-treatment follow-up. Modafinil showed promise in reducing methamphetamine use in selected methamphetamine-dependent patients. The study findings support definitive trials of modafinil in larger multi-site trials.
Shearer J, Darke S, Rodgers C, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of modafinil (200 mg/day) for methamphetamine dependence. 104(2):224-33, 2009.

For more information: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a602016.html

Mirtazapine (Remeron)

What it does: An antidepressant that was found to decrease methamphetamine use

How it works: Mirtazapine helps release several brain chemicals including norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine that are involved in mood.

Side effects: drowsiness, dizziness, anxiousness, confusion, increased weight and appetite
For a more complete list of side effects visit this NIH page.

Availability: Physician prescription

Research: In a small 12-week study of 60 patients, the addition of mirtazapine to substance use counseling decreased methamphetamine use among active users despite low to moderate medication adherence.

Colfax NC, Santos GM, Das M, et al. Mirtazapine to reduce methamphetamine use: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(11):1168-1175.

For more information: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a697009.html

Updated February 22, 2017