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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Methamphetamine Treatment Methods on the Horizon

There is a concern that methamphetamine treatment is not being properly addressed. Methamphetamine has fast become considered the world’s most complex drug, different in so many ways from traditional “hard” drugs. The method of treatment applied to methamphetamine addicts is the same method applied to heroin, cocaine, and prescription medicine addicts; detox, extended treatment, and some form of 12-step program have been the most important elements to a successful recovery. That method has been proven quite effective in many cases, even for some methamphetamine addicts, but, the success rate for meth addicts is not that great. This realization has some scientists and doctors searching out more effective treatment plans that could help meth addicts.

"If someone needs treatment now, they might as well go to any place for any kind of addiction, because there's no specific treatment for methamphetamine. And the programs we have don't work that well," said Dr. John Mendelson, a senior scientist with the Addiction and Pharmacology Research Laboratory at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

There has been extensive research on the drug and it is becoming more clearer that methamphetamine is a completely different animal than other drugs. It is evident in how the withdrawal process occurs, heroin and alcohol addicts have more acute symptoms; however, there is a severe psychological attachment that causes terrible depression which is usually the cause for relapse. Researchers are trying to find a way to step meth addicts down slowly off the drug, the idea of climbing down the cliff with a rope as opposed to just jumping; the psychological impact may be less severe allowing the addict to work through their problems slowly while the stepping themselves down off the drug. The new form of treatment is called motivational therapy, some researchers are encouraged by the results, but everything is still very untested.

"We're learning that methamphetamine is not heroin, prescription opiates or alcohol," Mendelson said. "It's a different problem with a different set of treatments that are going to be, hopefully, effective."

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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