Searching for Medication to Help Meth Addicts Recover

Man fighting Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive drug with significant short and long-term psychological and physical effects [1]. Meth often gives users feelings of euphoria. This is because it impacts a certain chemical in the brain that is responsible for feeling pleasure [1]. This feeling can lead to meth addiction.

What is the Impact of Meth?

Meth is a dangerous substance. Short-term effects include irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, abnormal level of physical activity, and lack of sleep due to having enough energy to stay awake for several days [1].

Long-term effects include extreme weight loss, severe dental issues, changes in brain structure, memory loss, paranoia, and hallucinations [1]. One major effect of meth use is the likelihood of addiction [1]. Meth is proven to create changes in brain structure that negatively impact someone’s emotional functioning, memory, and ability to learn [1].

While the physical impacts of meth are dangerous, the impact of addiction is devastating. Addiction impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Developing an addiction to meth can negatively impact someone’s relationships, finances, and ability to fulfill academic or professional responsibilities.

Combating Meth Addiction

Meth addiction can cause many challenges but medications are being researchedGiven how dangerous meth addiction is, it is important for people to recover. Sobriety from this drug is difficult to maintain because it is so addictive [1]. Once someone becomes addicted, they may experience withdrawal.

Withdrawal can cause anxiety, severe depression, psychosis, intense cravings, and fatigue [1]. These symptoms can lead people to use again so they can get these symptoms to stop. Avoiding withdrawal is one reason that may make sobriety hard to achieve.

The withdrawal process and the health risks associated with meth use are one reason why medication to treat meth addiction would be so helpful. While there are no medications currently approved to treat this condition, researchers are currently working on it [2].

The medication being developed may help treat meth addiction by changing how the brain responds to meth [2]. The medication that is currently underway may work to take away the pleasurable aspects that meth users experience while intoxicated [2].

Creating a medication to treat a substance use disorder is difficult because addiction is a complicated physical and psychological process. However, it is encouraging that researchers are getting closer to finding a medical solution. Once scientists are able to do this, it may offer the 700,000 Americans who struggle with meth addiction a stronger chance of sobriety.

In the meantime, there are other treatment options available. Research has shown that behavioral therapies are effective in treating addiction. While an effective medication could be a game-changer for addiction treatment, sobriety is still available now for anyone who chooses to pursue it.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, May). Methamphetamine drug facts.

[2] Krause, C. (2020, September 21). Narrative of discovery: The quest for medication to treat methamphetamine addiction, part 5. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on November 30, 2020
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 30, 2020
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.