ADHD Drug May Help Curb Meth Addicts' Cravings

By Victoria Kim 10/15/14

Replacing meth with ADHD drugs may be the same as nicotine replacement or using methadone to treat heroin addicts.

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Researchers in Australia are hoping a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children between the ages of 6 and 18 can also help wean addicts off methamphetamine.

Substituting meth with lisdexamfetamine channels the same kind of principle used with nicotine replacement for the treatment of nicotine dependence, as well as methadone treatment for heroin users, said Dr. Nadine Ezard, an associate professor at St. Vincent’s Clinical School. “It does something very similar to the body that methamphetamine does, but not the same,” Ezard said.

With lisdexamfetamine, users experience fewer positive drug-like effects, and the drug is slower acting. “People can take this drug once a day; it has a slow onset across the whole day,” Ezard said.

St. Vincent’s Hospital currently offers the drug as a last resort measure to treat a small number of meth users, who attend the hospital for daily doses, which are monitored because improper use can provide meth-like highs.

The researchers are hoping that higher doses of up to 250 milligrams per day of the ADHD drug will help meth addicts control cravings, but how safe it is to use these dose levels is yet unknown. The drug’s effect on meth addicts will be monitored during a 14-week trial program at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Newcastle Private Hospital to determine whether it can actually reduce cravings.

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