Can Methadone Treat Stimulant Addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “At this time, there are no medications that are FDA-approved for treating stimulant addiction.” For this reason, many doctors are reluctant to start a pharmacological regimen for patients in need of stimulant addiction treatment and may only use drugs to minimize specific withdrawal symptoms in this population. Still, there is some evidence to suggest that certain medications could be used effectively to treat stimulant addiction, among them methadone.

Is Methadone a Stimulant Addiction Treatment?

Officially, no. There is some discussion, though, in the medical community on whether or not the drug could be used to treat stimulant addiction in addition to opioid addiction. Technically, methadone has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose so most doctors do not prescribe it this way, but there has been some evidence that points to a potential for this option.

Methadone as a Stimulant Addiction Treatment

methadone treatment for stimulant addiction

Methadone treatment proved beneficial to cocaine-addicted lab rats in one study.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, “A comprehensive study of an urban methadone clinic… conducted over an 18 month period on 133 clinic patients showed that with effective methadone maintenance using adequate dosages, the majority of patients remain in treatment and reduce cocaine abuse as well as illicit opioid use.” Unfortunately, though, this study could not prove conclusively if the treatment program overall was merely beneficial or if the methadone itself had a strong effect.

The effect of methadone on cocaine-dependent rats was found to be impressive in another study, and “the rats did not experience cocaine highs after getting methadone.” The drug also seemed to have a positive effect on the portion of the rats’ brains that was responsible for their addictive behavior, returning them to a state similar to how they were before the rats were ever exposed to cocaine.

While these studies do not conclusively prove that methadone can treat stimulant addiction, there does seem to be potential for the drug to be a possible beneficial option to those recovering from opioid addiction. However, because it is not approved for this purpose, doctors likely will not prescribe it.

What are the Best Stimulant Addiction Treatments?

Currently, we understand that behavioral therapy is the best treatment option for stimulant addiction. Contingency management, the Matrix Model, and cognitive-behavioral therapy are some of the options that can be incredibly beneficial to someone going through cocaine, methamphetamine, or amphetamine addiction.

Methadone could be helpful, though, and perhaps in time, we will find a more guaranteed way to prove its potential for this use through evidence-based practice. But as of now, most stimulant-addicted individuals should stay with behavioral therapies. However, “Cocaine and heroin are sometimes used together in a practice commonly known as speedballing,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, so a person who is addicted to both stimulants and opioids may need methadone maintenance after all.

Are there Other Uses for Methadone?

Do You Want to Learn More About Methadone?

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