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Naltrexone Looked At For Meth Addiction Treatment

When examining life threatening addictions, “out of the box” treatment methods are often required; particularly for those who have had little success with traditional recovery tactics. And sometimes, it’s those outlier approaches that truly make a difference. Interestingly, the NPR website recently profiled one such approach; which is testing the drug naltrexone as a solution for those battling meth dependencies.

In a piece that was also featured on their radio program, NPR contributor Andrea Dukakis broke down the origins and successes attached to naltrexone meth treatments. For the record, naltrexone has been used before in the addiction realm; often times for alcohol or opioid abuse. And over in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, it got on the radar of counselor and physician assistant Nancy Beste.

Beste had a patient who was in the midst of an intense struggle with meth. Her solution was to prescribe naltrexone in pill form, hoping it would lessen her client’s struggles (and ultimately save her life).

As she told NPR, the results from that prescription were almost immediate.

“The shaking started going away. She wasn’t panicking and could feel some relief,” Beste told the site. “I knew there was something different.”

Another California-based physician interviewed for the piece, Dr. Keith Heinzerling, says he’s begun prescribing it in combination with other medications. He also added that there was real progress being made.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to try naltrexone,” Dr. Heinzerling explained. “There’s actually a decent amount of evidence that it might help, and if I had a family member [addicted to meth], I would recommend they try it.”

Our local neighbor, UCLA, is also in the midst of some naltrexone trials for meth treatment. Results they released in 2015 showed that it had a strong effect on reducing addiction cravings (when compared to placebos).

Subjects for the UCLA tests have been continually monitored and, as of this year, do not seem to be suffering from any potential side effects. Naltrexone is also reportedly inexpensive and could be cost efficient when looking for legitimate recovery solutions.

Beste added that counseling is still very important and this drug alone cannot completely solve the problem. She also said that it is not entirely foolproof. Within her patient set, approximately 16 have been given naltrexone as a treatment for meth. Roughly half, she explained, had seen a concrete reduction in their cravings level.

But, as we always say, progress is progress and any dent in America’s meth addiction crisis is a positive sign.