Workout Supplement To Be Tested For Treating Meth Addiction

By Paul Gaita 12/14/15

Can researchers find an effective treatment using a supplement designed to boost body mass?

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Researchers at Montana State University have launched a study to determine if the nutritional supplement creatine monohydrate can successfully treat dependence to meth.

The study, overseen by Tracy Hellem, PhD, an assistant professor of the College of Nursing at Montana State, is the first to examine the amino acid’s efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in meth users, which will hopefully reduce use of the drug. Test participants, which are projected as male and female meth users between the ages of 18 and 59 who also contend with depression and anxiety, will undergo screening visits, eight weeks of treatment with creatine and two follow-up visits.

Hellem noted that individuals who suffer from mental illness and use meth find that the drug has an initial positive impact on those conditions by increasing energy and decreasing appetite or the need to sleep. However, consistent use also led to feelings of depression, which increased users’ intake of the drug. “The bi-directional relationship between depression and methamphetamine makes treating dependence challenging,” she noted.

Hellem first struck upon the idea of treating meth addiction with creatine while completing her graduate studies at the University of Utah. There, Dr. Perry Renshaw had used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to determine that individuals with mood disorders and substance abuse issues had deficiencies in brain cellular processes. Renshaw and Hellem hypothesized that creatine, which was used by athletes to build body mass and strength, as well as energy and stamina, might also reduce the depression and anxiety in these individuals. 

Their initial study proved successful in this regard, which prompted Hellem to launch the current study, which will include patients with anxiety disorder as well as addiction to methamphetamine. “This will be the first study of creatine that includes a triple diagnosis: depression, anxiety, and methamphetamine dependence,” said Hellem.

As a nutritional and sports supplement, creatine has proven effective for increasing the body’s ability to produce energy at a more rapid rate for activities like weight training, sprinting, and other sports. It has also been proven to build muscle fibers in users who combine it with an exercise regime. Though it is considered safe for use by trainers and health experts, side effects ranging from cramping to kidney and heart problems have been infrequently reported.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.