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Prometa Meth Addiction Treatment

In the search for a solution for meth dependence, addiction experts and clinical researchers have explored a host of different treatment strategies. Prometa is a drug and alcohol treatment protocol that has received a lot of publicity thanks to its association with Hollywood celebrities. Developed by Hythiam, Inc., a healthcare services management company based in Santa Monica, California, the Prometa Treatment Program is touted as an integrated protocol that addresses drug and alcohol addiction from a pharmacological, nutritional and psychosocial perspective.

Is Prometa more effective than other approaches to treating meth addiction? Clinical evidence hasn’t yet confirmed that the drugs used in the Prometa protocol are any more effective than a placebo at curbing methamphetamine cravings or relieving the side effects of meth withdrawal. According to the Los Angeles Times, the research backing the Prometa protocol may not be as convincing as the hard-hitting marketing efforts used to promote this system.

How Meth Hooks Its Users

If you’re struggling with meth dependence, you don’t need to be told how addictive this drug can be. Meth is a central nervous stimulant that interferes with the way the brain processes dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood and emotions. Under normal circumstances, dopamine is released as a response to a pleasurable stimulus, like a food that you enjoy or a relaxing massage. After the experience is over, the pleasurable feeling gradually subsides. When you take meth, your brain cells keep releasing dopamine in response to the drug, giving you an intense feeling of pleasure that can culminate in a crash when the drug wears off.

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Methamphetamine is nicknamed “speed” for a reason — the drug seems to accelerate all of your thoughts and activities. Meth can make you feel more alert, wakeful and focused, at least temporarily. Meth can also promote weight loss, which makes it an attractive drug for people who believe that they’re too heavy. However, as the Nemours Foundation points out, meth can also make your heart beat too fast, raise your blood pressure, cause severe headaches and make you dizzy. A meth crash can leave a user in a state of severe depression and fatigue, craving more of the drug to get the next high. Over the long term, meth can have a number of serious effects on your physical and mental health, including:

  • Memory problems
  • Mood instabilities
  • Hostile behavior
  • Movement disorders
  • Serious dental problems
  • Heart problems
  • Increased risk of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis in users who inject meth

In a clinical setting, meth is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to encourage weight loss in patients who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet and exercise. When prescribed by a doctor, the drug is taken in very small, controlled amounts. Because of its strong potential for abuse and its potentially dangerous effects on the heart and brain, methamphetamine is classified as a controlled substance. Meth alters the brain’s natural responses to pleasure, setting up a craving for the drug that can lead to a lifelong battle with addiction.

*Meth Addiction: How Many Seek Help?

Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that the number of people seeking treatment for meth addiction through substance abuse treatment facilities is on the rise:

  • The percentage of those seeking addiction treatment for the primary abuse of meth rose from 4 to 9 percent between 1995 and 2005.
  • In 2005, meth abuse accounted for 169,500 substance abuse treatment admissions in the US (9 percent).
  • Out of the 2005 admissions, 49 percent of these people were referred by the criminal justice system, while 34 percent were self-referred or referred by other private sources.
  • Out of all the primary meth abuse admissions in 2005, 46 percent were female; only 31 percent of treatment admissions for other primary substances were female.

How the Prometa Program Works

Marketed by its developers as treatment for “your brain, your body, your life,” the Prometa Treatment Program offers a multidimensional approach to addressing methamphetamine, alcohol and cocaine addiction. Participants in this medically supervised program take three prescription drugs: flumazenil, hydroxyzine and gabapentin. At the same time, patients receive talk therapy and nutritional counseling to address the physical and psychosocial aspects of meth addiction. The Prometa Treatment Program has a number of important benefits, according to the addiction professionals who developed the protocol:

  • Participants can receive treatment on an outpatient basis, which means that therapy doesn’t have to get in the way of jobs or family activities.
  • The Prometa Treatment Program is available only through physicians and facilities that have been trained and licensed to administer the treatment protocol.
  • The Prometa program provides pharmacological support for treatment, which may help participants handle meth withdrawal symptoms.
  • Participants receive nutritional supplements to help restore healthy physical function and replace nutrients depleted by drug use.
  • After the initial phase of treatment, patients can continue to receive individual, group or family counseling.

Like any other substance abuse treatment program, Prometa requires a time commitment. It also requires a financial investment. Hythiam doesn’t provide specifics on the cost of treatment, but the company claims that Prometa is competitive with other treatment programs and that the protocol costs less than inpatient rehabilitation. Patients with limited financial resources may qualify for assistance with treatment costs. The Prometa Treatment Program for meth addiction has several stages:

  1. An initial screening by a licensed Prometa practitioner, including a medical evaluation, a drug screen, blood and urine tests, a pregnancy test if applicable and other diagnostic testing as needed
  2. Three one-hour consultations with Prometa addiction treatment professionals on three consecutive days
  3. A three-day course of prescription medications and nutritional supplements that can be taken at home
  4. Two one-hour consultations on consecutive days several weeks after the initial treatment phase
  5. A one-month program of medications, supplements and drug education

Effectiveness of Prometa

Hythiam does not claim that Prometa is a substitute for behavioral therapy or that it can “cure” meth addiction. However, proponents of the Prometa treatment protocol state that it’s an inclusive, effective way to beat meth dependence. Prometa’s treatment philosophy is based on the idea that willpower alone isn’t enough to beat a powerful drug like meth, and its protocol offers several sources of support to help you get through detox and recovery.

Will Prometa work for you? At this point, clinical studies have not proven that the Prometa protocol is any more effective than other programs. In a placebo-controlled study published in the February 2012 issue of Addiction, study participants seeking treatment for meth dependence were tested on the presence of methamphetamine in their urine, meth cravings, treatment retention and adverse events during treatment. One group of participants took flumazenil, gabapentin and hydroxyzine as prescribed in the Prometa protocol, while the others took a placebo. At the end of the study, researchers found no significant differences between the effects of the Prometa protocol and a placebo.

The medications used in the Prometa program have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating meth addiction; however, these drugs have been approved for use in treating other conditions:

  • Flumazenil: Reverses the sedative effects of benzodiazepines on the central nervous system; may be used to manage a benzo overdose
  • Hydroxyzine: Reduces central nervous system activity; used to treat anxiety
  • Gabapentin: Anticonvulsant medication used to prevent seizures; promotes the release of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may stabilize mood and promote a sense of relaxation

The drugs used in the Prometa protocol are not habit-forming but they do have potential side effects, which should be reviewed by the doctor who manages your treatment program. The Prometa protocol is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.

*What’s the Most Effective Way to Beat Meth?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the most effective treatment for meth addiction is cognitive behavioral intervention. The NIDA supports the Matrix Model of addiction treatment, which includes the following components:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Addiction education for families and loved ones
  • Counseling for individual drug users
  • Participation in a 12-step recovery program
  • Support for non-drug hobbies and activities
  • Regular drug testing

Will Prometa Work for Me?

Do the results of the 2012 Addiction study mean that Prometa won’t work for you? Not necessarily. Prometa offers a lot of advantages to participants, including medical supervision, pharmacological support and professional counseling. For those who want to jump-start their meth treatment with a program that will allow them to continue working and taking care of their loved ones, Prometa may be an effective choice. The bottom line is that no single solution will work for every meth user. Give us a call today to discuss the type of treatment that’s best suited to your needs.