LOS ANGELES, May 19 (UPI) -- A small study has found that Naltrexone, a drug used to treat alcoholism, effectively decreased methamphetamine-addicted patients' desire for the drug and the pleasure they derived from using it.
Twenty-two men and 8 women who used methamphetamine an average of three or four times a week were given Naltrexone, or a placebo, during the first four days of a five-day stay at a hospital. Ten days later the process was repeated, but patients who received the Natlrexone were instead given the placebo and vice versa.
On the last day of each hospital stay, patients received a dose of methamphetamine and were asked how they felt and whether they wanted more of the drug. Patients who received Naltrexone reported a lower desire for methamphetamine and they enjoyed it less when they'd taken it.
"The results were about as good as you could hope for," said Lara Ray, a UCLA associate professor of psychology and director of the UCLA Addictions Laboratory, in a press release.
Naltrexone is used primarily for patients with alcohol or opioid dependence. While it does not cure patients of their addiction, the drug helps them to deal with it while seeking additional treatment by lowering the effects of alcohol or opioids on the body.
Although researchers achieved the desired effect during the study, larger clinical trials are already being conducted with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The study is published in Neuropsychopharmacology.