When it comes to addictive potential, methamphetamine is one of the more alarming controlled substances, perhaps surpassed only by heroin. Those who abuse the drug are often unable to stop, as physical dependence may develop after even a single use. In the meantime, the drug presents clear dangers, causing users to become physically ravaged and psychologically consumed by the drug. The fact that the substance is relatively inexpensive to manufacture also does not help matters; in truth is it helps those with few financial resources stay hooked more easily.
A study conducted by the University of Virginia School of Medicine has determined that a medication named topiramate is effective in minimizing the odds of meth relapse based on the drug and the amount that a current user may take. The study consisted of results from more than 100 methamphetamine addicts. This drug had been used in prior cases to treat those suffering from alcoholism, as it helped block the routes by which dopamine travels in the brain. This is a major breakthrough for a substance in which serious cravings often outweigh the consequences of abuse. Physical damage caused by heavy drinking was also reduced.
Topiramate has also been used in the past to help those who experience disorders that lead to seizures. For instance, alcoholics that stop drinking abruptly may experience seizures. In these instances, this medication may be used for its anticonvulsant properties. In addition, the medication has also been used to help relieve symptoms of migraines, epilepsy and bipolar disorder. There are plans to complete a study with the drug in which a larger trial group participates. The findings are especially relevant because prior to this, there was little promising research on how to effectively treat methamphetamine dependence.
Topiramate has also been used to assist those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Further research has shown it may be effective in helping with a number of other conditions such as tobacco addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia, hypertension and more. One trial has also been used to determine its effectiveness in treating borderline personality disorder. However, further studies are needed to prove its effectiveness in this case.
Advantages of topiramate
One benefit of topiramate is that it does not produce a sensation of euphoria. In the past, benzodiazepines have been used during periods of alcohol withdrawal. However, patients were more likely to develop a dependence on these medications, causing the controversy about creating a replacement addiction. Unlike its predecessors, topiramate has been shown to change the response of alcohol in the body, as well as how it tastes.
When it comes to stimulants such as methamphetamine, the sufferer may be susceptible to irregular brain activity, causing nervousness or agitation. Topiramate is able to slow these reactions and help promote a sense of tranquility. By assisting people with recovery when they are especially sensitive to relapse, clients will be better prepared to engage in therapy as a result.
Topiramate side effects
Much like any medication or drug though, topiramate has side effects. The brain may process the senses of smell and taste differently, so once favorite foods may appear to not have the usual flavor that one expects. Some find that dreams become more vivid while they are taking the drug or that their hands experience a prickling sensation. Though smaller doses may not lead to any of these side effects, it remains important to consult a medical professional before halting use of the medication.
As studies on topiramate continue, it is important to note that therapy will also prove valuable in methamphetamine recovery. Yet due to the overpowering nature of cravings, it will remain important to find effective medications to assist in recovery. Hopefully, topiramate will continue to show benefits for patients, along with other medications that may be discovered in the future.
Sovereign Health continues to follow current research on how to better assist those suffering from substance abuse in recovery. We provide a holistic treatment program that ensures that patients will receive the best standard of care possible. For more information on how to help yourself or a loved one with substance abuse, contact our admissions team today at 888-530 4614.
Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Writer