In what may be good news for recovering methamphetamine addicts who desperately need a prescription supplement to their other treatment, the FDA recently fast tracked testing of the drug Ibudilast so that researchers may now begin testing the drug on human subjects.
The drug was not originally intended to fight addiction. It was initially licensed for treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. Ibudilast is notable for treatment of methamphetamine, heroin, and opiate addiction for many reasons, not least of which is that fact that it may be the first non-opiate drug approved for treatment of addiction.
Methamphetamines: A Very Difficult Addiction to Recover From
Finding a drug that helped support an addict’s efforts to recover would be particularly significant because of the fact that currently, methamphetamine addicts exhibit a very high rate of relapse.
Currently, recovering methamphetamine addicts can turn only to counseling support such as therapy and twelve step programs like Narcotics Anonymous. Introducing a drug that addresses an addict’s chemical tendency towards cravings may make a huge difference when it comes to addicts’ success rates.
Initial Tests Seem Promising
The beginning stages of clinical trials for Ibudilast have offered signs that the drug may indeed be effective in curbing cravings. Ibudilast also helps keep recovering addicts from relapsing by improving cognitive function, which is often severely damaged by methamphetamine abuse. Thus far, the treatment has passed initial safety tests and seems to be producing the desired effect of minimized cravings in recovering addicts.
How Does the Drug Work?
Ibudilast helps prevent glial cells, which are responsible for communicating a desire for meth to the brain’s central nervous system. Meth addiction generally severely alters a person’s brain chemistry and creates a situation where an addict becomes entirely consumed with the thought of finding more meth.
If the cells that communicate these desires can be blocked, addicts may hope to find more mental clarity, which would ideally put them in the position to be able to make more rational decisions, such as attending a meeting or therapy session rather than calling a dealer.
Research Will Continue
The next phase of the study will occur at UCLA in the summer of 2014. Phase two will consist of gathering a group of subjects comprised of amphetamine addicts who are attempting to become sober. The trial will last twelve weeks, and the data recorded from it will determine when, if ever, steps to market the drug for addiction treatment will continue.
If the results of the studies done in phase two do in fact support researchers’ hypothesis that the drug has benefit, researchers will continue on to phase three, which will involve a larger sample of subjects. If all phases of the study are successful and there are no delays in the research process, Ibudilast may be approved by the FDA as early as 2018.
Many substance abuse and other mental health professionals are optimistic about the success of the drug, as the substance abuse recovery community certainly sees a great need for something of its kind.
Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Finding a drug that helps curb meth relapse would be a major victory in the war against this dangerous drug. Methamphetamines carry very serious long term effects on a person’s health. Addicts may very frequently exhibit extremely impaired cognitive function, which may include depression, anxiety, paranoia and delusions.
Physical damage to an addict may include lost teeth or severe gum damage, damage to skin, and thinning hair among others. Methamphetamines, like all stimulants also cause serious damage to an addict’s cardiovascular system. Any person who is struggling with meth abuse should seek help immediately.