Medication Shows Promise for Treating Methamphetamine Addiction
January 16, 2014
No medications are currently approved for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. However, previous research has suggested that medications acting indirectly on the brain’s dopamine reward system via systems using the neurotransmitter acetylcholine may safely and effectively inhibit the effects of methamphetamine in users. Now, NIDA-funded researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have found that short-term treatment with the drug varenicline, a medication already approved for nicotine addiction that acts as a partial agonist of nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptors, reduced the subjective positive effects of smoked methamphetamine in a small group of dependent individuals. The drug was also well tolerated by the volunteers. This finding supports that nACh receptors are a promising target for medications to treat methamphetamine addiction and indicates that clinical trials of varenicline in the treatment of this devastating substance use disorder should be explored.