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L-Dopa, 5-HTP, and other Supplements to Help with Quitting Meth

Meth abuse is rising again in the United States, as super labs in China and Mexico develop purer and less expensive versions of meth, crystal meth, and crank.

Medical assistance is required to safely withdraw from meth. Some people may want to use supplements like L-DOPA and 5-HTP to aid the withdrawal process. While certain supplements could potentially benefit withdrawal, there isn’t sufficient research to support their use.

Meth’s Risks

The drug is a strong, highly addictive stimulant substance that binds quickly to receptors in the brain. This causes a rush of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which are all associated with mood and the brain’s reward system.

People who abuse meth are more physically active and more excitable. They sleep less and eat less. As the main stimulation wears off, they may become anxious, irritable, and even violent.

If someone takes a large enough dose of meth, they may experience intense paranoia, hallucinations, and a break from reality called psychosis. They may suffer from seizures, a heart attack, or a stroke.

If they abuse the drug on a long-term basis, they can cause permanent brain damage, learning difficulties, malnutrition, and dental health damage. They can also contract serious infections, among many other risks.

Withdrawing From Meth Requires Help

Often, people who struggle with a drug addiction try to quit at some point. Without oversight from medical professionals in a detox program, too many people who try to quit cold turkey experience a relapse and return to drug abuse.

Because meth changes how neurotransmitters are released, especially dopamine, withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable. You may find you do not feel pleasure (anhedonia). You may feel sick and exhausted. You may experience rebound anxiety, rebound insomnia, and extreme hunger.

Because your brain chemistry is imbalanced, and it can take several days or even weeks to reach normal levels of dopamine and serotonin, you may experience intense cravings for meth. For people without social and medical support, this is the time that many people relapse. Getting help is crucial.

If you are trying to quit meth, you may wonder if there are things you can do or supplements you can take to ease withdrawal symptoms. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports there is currently no medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that relieves withdrawal from meth and that the focus of treating meth addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy.

There is continual research into medications that may help with meth withdrawal. Some people report that certain supplements may work to increase dopamine levels in the brain without leading to addictive behaviors.

Supplements That Might Ease Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

It is important to note that the supplements listed here have not been thoroughly researched. They will not generally be prescribed at a detox center during withdrawal.

You may ask a doctor or addiction specialist about supplements that interest you.

This is a workout supplement designed to boost muscle mass. Creatine is an amino acid, so it does not cause an intense surge in neurotransmitters, but it appears to be effective at reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety, particularly in people who are overcoming meth abuse.

Since many people who struggle with mental health problems turn to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, including meth, before they are properly diagnosed, a supplement that can improve nutrition while easing symptoms associated with mental illness can be helpful during the detox process.

In athletes who supplement with creatine, reports highlight the supplement’s ability to improve physical energy, which improves the athlete’s ability to focus on working out. This change in energy may also lead to positive changes in mood.

This drug was designed to treat Parkinson’s disease, a condition that involves a sudden loss of dopamine production in the brain. Meth has been associated with producing Parkinson’s-like symptoms in people who chronically abuse the stimulant, so during detox, adding small doses of L-DOPA for a brief period may help to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Any drug that directly triggers the release of dopamine in the brain has some risk for abuse, and L-DOPA is no exception. People who are trying to stop abusing meth may abuse L-DOPA, too. The drug has not been used to help people taper off meth addiction, so there is no set schedule for this as there is for other MAT.

Additionally, people with Parkinson’s disease have benefited greatly from taking L-DOPA, but the drug has also triggered compulsive behaviors, like gambling, in patients who had no history of addictive behaviors. There is a risk that someone already struggling with an addiction may find their compulsive behaviors are worsened

5-HTTP is a supplement that reportedly produces more serotonin, specifically, in the brain. While meth abuse primarily depletes dopamine, the drug also depletes serotoninand norepinephrine; taking a supplement that replenishes serotonin can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety that may be part of withdrawal. Some people have reported nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain while taking 5-HTP, and if this supplement is taken in combination with drugs like antidepressants, there could be severe, life-threatening side effects.

While 5-HTP has been recommended at specific doses for weight loss, mood enhancement, treating fibromyalgia symptoms, migraines, and improving sleep, the supplement has not been recommended for use alongside detox treatment, even for overcoming meth addiction. You should ask your doctor about any risks associated with taking 5-HTP to ease withdrawal symptoms like low mood

Like creatine, L-glutamate is an amino acid, which is typically produced by the body. However, if you have an underlying condition that depletes you of muscle mass or nutrition, you may benefit from adding a supplement that can help you produce glutamate.

L-glutamate can improve body function for people who have high levels of stress, trauma, major infections, immune disorders like HIV, chronic gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), or who are undergoing treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

People who are in the process of ending meth dependence do not produce enough glutamate to regulate some of their brain functions. Long-term abstinence is required for the brain to begin producing this amino acid again, and this can mean that cravings can last for longer than with some other drugs. Taking a supplement that artificially introduces L-glutamate into the brain again can improve mood.

Also, like creatine, taking L-glutamate can improve how energetic you feel. Your body will be more able to move without feeling sluggish or tired.

People who have some underlying conditions like kidney or liver damage should not take this supplement because it interacts poorly with these chronic illnesses. If you abuse meth, you may have damaged some internal organs, so check with your doctor first

This is another amino acid supplement, combining L-phenylalanine and D-phenylalanine to maximize the benefits of both amino acids. The supplement is allegedly good at easing symptoms of chronic pain conditions and depression by managing the endogenous analgesic system and releasing dopamine and serotonin in small amounts.

Easing physical and emotional pain can greatly help someone going through withdrawal, including meth withdrawal. It is available as both a capsule and a topical cream.

There are side effects with taking this supplement, including heartburn, nausea, and headaches. It can also make involuntary movements worse, which may make some symptoms of meth withdrawal, like shaking or twitching, more pronounced. While you may derive benefit from DL-phenylalanine, it is important to make sure a doctor thinks it is safe for you to take.

Evidence-Based Treatment for Meth Addiction

Again, none of the above-listed supplements should be taken without a doctor’s oversight. If you take these supplements as you withdraw from meth addiction, you should do so as part of a detox program that understands meth withdrawal.

Medical supervision and social support are necessary to manage withdrawal from a potent stimulant like meth. Taking supplements and making other lifestyle changes can ease withdrawal symptoms, but they are not the primary form of care for addiction.

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Sources

(2017). V. Stimulants: Methamphetamine. Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide, 2017 Edition. Retrieved January 2019 from from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=54

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms + Timeline. Mental Health Daily. Retrieved January 2019 from from https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/04/25/meth-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline/

(September 2013). What Treatments are Effective for People Who Abuse Methamphetamine? National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved January 2019 from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-methamphetamine-abusers

(December 14, 2015). Workout Supplement to be Tested for Treating Meth Addiction. The Fix. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.thefix.com/workout-supplement-be-tested-treating-meth-addiction

(August 8, 2018). Dopamine Withdrawal is Difficult. Psych Central. Retrieved January 2019 from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/13/dopamine-withdrawal-is-difficult/10721.html

(May 21, 2018). Five Science-Based Benefits of 5-HTP (Plus Dosage and Side Effects). Healthline. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-htp-benefits#section1

(February 7, 2018). Does L-Glutamate Work for IBS? Medical News Today. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320850.php

(June 3, 2008). Adaptation of Brain Glutamate Plus Glutamine During Abstinence from Chronic Meth Use. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2575014/

What are the Benefits of DL-Phenylalanine? LIVESTRONG. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.livestrong.com/article/501701-what-are-the-benefits-of-dl-phenylalanine/

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