* Medications For Addiction
- Drugs To Avoid
- Non-addictive Drugs
- Medications for the Brain
- Medications for Sleep
Benzodiazepines should be avoided unless necessary to detox from alcohol or other drugs. For example, addiction to Xanax may require a gradual withdrawal. However, there are better drugs to use for detoxification.
Stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Metadate), pemoline (Cylert), or amthetamines (Adderal, Dexedrine) should be avoided because the way they affect the brain is similar to that of methamphetamine. Even though these medications stimulate the brain only a fraction of the way methamphetamine does, they stimulate the same pathways in the brain and can become a trigger for relapse as the old feelings of using meth are revived.
Avoid benzodiazepine like medications. Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta target the same receptors benzodiazepines. Physicians often prescribe these medications for sleep, but addicts should avoid them and no one should take them long-term. When abused they have caused psychotic symptoms and hallucinations. Even though they are advertised as safe, they are not and should be avoided.
Clonidine (Catapres) doesn't have a potential for physical addiction. It is most often used as a blood pressure medication. It blocks the release of adrenaline signals from the nucleus in the brain that can cause anxiety and distress. It is also used to treat ADHD.
Pregabalin (Lyrica) blocks calcium channels which affect nerve transmission. Recent test show it can be as effective as alprazolam and loraxepam to reduce anxiety. It is not an addictive drug.
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) and amantadine (Symmetrel) are non-addictive and can safely increase dopamine levels without the risk of addiction. Early studies show that Wellbutrin is helpful with meth recovery and may protect some brain cells from damage caused by meth abuse. The only downside is a remote possibility that it could cause seizures, but seizures did not occur in recent studies.
Modafinil (Provigil) is used to treat cocaine addicts. It increases activity on the surface of the brain which is normally low in heavy methamphetamine users. It also improves energy and attention which is a benefit for meth addicts in recovery. It addresses the tired and flat feelings crystal meth users have without the drug. It may help balance brain function and decrease cravings and relapse. Since Provigil does not have significant dopamine activity, it is considered to have a low potential for addiction. However, this drug should be used only under the strict supervision of a physician. If it gives the addict the slightest feeling that reminds them of crystal meth, they should stop the medication immediately. This seldom occurs, but if it causes an addict to recall past usage the medication should be avoided.
Trazodone is non-addictive and is an effective drug for sleep with few side effects. I have recommended trazodone (Desyrel) since 1996 with good results. Other sleep medications include antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Chlortrimeton (chlorpheniramine) and Atarax (hydroxazine). Sominex and Unisom contain some of these ingredients and are safe when taken according to directions. Another medication developed recently is Rozerem (ramelteon). It stimulates melatonin receptors that tell your brain it is time to go to sleep. It is stronger than OTC melatonin and is not addictive. However, it is not always effective.
* Notes from NAADAC seminar led by Steven J. Lee, MD. He is a practicing Addictions Psychiatrist in New York City and Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University.