Current Treatments For Addictions To Stimulants

If you have an addiction to cocaine, amphetamines or methamphetamines, you will need a specialized treatment program to help you recover. Modern day programs have several components to increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Combination Treatments

Treatment for stimulant addiction may last for several months and use cognitive-behavioral and contingency management approaches together.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to help you become of your thinking and beliefs that lead to feelings and then to behavior. You will learn to challenge old beliefs and behaviors and learn to think and act in more life-affirming ways.

In CBT, you would discuss ways to anticipate situations and cues or triggers that would test your self control and then to develop strategies to deal with them.  Cues are things that have formed a connection in your mind with the subject of your addiction.  Certain places, smells, sights can form these associations over time. You will learn to separate the association consciously or decide to avoid these cues so that your cravings for the drug will subside.

 A contingency management (CM) approach systematically uses rewards to help shape healthier behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) evaluated contingency management approaches through its MIEDAR (Motivational Incentives for Enhanced Drug Abuse Recovery) program and found that it significantly increased the effectiveness of treatment.

Treatment will also include is:

  • Family education  (so that family members can have some support and learn new ways to be supportive to you will avoiding sabotaging/enabling behaviors),
  • Individual counseling sessions,  and
  • 12 step group support sessions.

Medical Treatment

There is no specific treatment for amphetamine use but a medical professional may prescribe the following drugs or withdrawal symptom relief:  

  • fluxotene (decreases cravings/treats depression),
  • methylphenidate (stimulant), or
  • imipramine (trycyclic antidepressant).

There is also no drug specifically made to treat meth addiction but a drug called  "Ibudilast" is being tested for eventual use. This drug may prove to reduce cravings for meth and also improve brain function. The white matter of the brain is primarily  glial cells that provide support the neurons. Ibudilast appears to block the affects of meth on these glial cells so it would suppress cravings. Until this drug has been approved any medications prescribed would be various drugs that would treat underlying mental /emotional problems or symptoms of withdrawal, such as an anti-anxiety drug to calm someone down.

Although there is no specific drug treatment for cocaine abuse either, there are some drugs that may prove helpful such as modafinil (wakefulness promoting agent),  vigabatrin (anti-epileptic drug), tiagabine (anti-epileptic drug), disulfirasem (drug that discourages alcohol ingestion), and topiramate (anti-epileptic drug). A vaccine may be developed in future that would block the entry of cocaine into the brain and thus reduce desire for this drug.


Since your health and freedom are at risk from the illegal use of these drugs, you should consider getting treated as soon as possible. Getting treatment will help you to identify cues that could cause a relapse and prepare strategies to prevent this from happening.  Medical treatment will help you deal more effectively with withdrawal symptoms. 

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