What are Methamphetamines? | Meth Addiction Treatment

Amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and methamphetamine (collectively referred to as “amphetamines”) all have very similar properties and effects. The first amphetamine was synthesized in 1887, but it was not until the 1920s that it was investigated as a treatment for a wide variety of ills such as depression and nasal decongestion. In the 1930s, an inhaler, “Benzedrine” (mixed amphetamine sulfate), was sold over-the-counter and marketed for the treatment of asthma, hay fever, and the common cold. Methamphetamine (MA), discovered in 1919, is a crystalline powder that is easy to make (this is the“speed,” “crank,” or “meth” often made in illegal drug labs).


Methamphetamine addiction does destroy brain cells
In one study, high resolution MRI scans of methamphetamine addicts showed tissue destruction, particularly in gray matter. Losses were seen in the limbic region and the hippocampus. The study looked at 22 subjects who had used an average of four grams of methamphetamine per week for ten years, mostly by smoking it (Thompson, et al., 2004).

Treatment of methamphetamine dependence:

There are no FDA-approved drugs for methamphetamine dependence or withdrawal. A few currently in clinical trials are:
  • Bupropion/Wellbutrin was shown to be somewhat helpful in increasing the number of drug-free weeks for low to moderate CNS STIMULANTS: USE & ABUSE | 97 methamphetamine users (Elkashef, et al., 2008).
  • Mirtazapine/Remeron has shown promise for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms (McGregor, et al., 2005).
  • Gamma-vinyl-GABA (GVG) (see p. 99) has shown some effectiveness keeping methamphetamine users drug free for at least four weeks. (Brodie, et al., 2005).
  • Modafinil/Provigil was reported to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Subjects reported deeper sleep, fewer nightmares, and less sleepiness during the day (McGregor, et al., 2005). This disorder is a chronic toxicity caused by very high levels of caffeine consumption. It is characterized by:
    • disruption of sleep patterns
    • nausea
    • depression
    • diarrhea
    • stomach pain
    • headache
    • feelings of anxiety
    • trembling
    • ringing in the ears
    • dry mouth
    • irregular heartbeat
    • rapid changes in mood.