A Phase II study led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) suggests the antidepressant bupropion may help treat methamphetamine addiction. No medications presently are approved for treating methamphetamine addicts.

The study has found that bupropion blunts the methamphetamine "high" and reduces cravings prompted by visual cues such as ambient drug use. Bupropion is thought to reduce the effects of methamphetamine by preventing the drug from entering brain cells, where methamphetamine can produce release of neurotransmitters that cause feelings of euphoria.

Twenty of 26 participants enrolled in the project completed the study. Participants were active methamphetamine users between ages 18 and 45. Researchers randomly assigned each participant to receive treatment either with a placebo -- an inactive ingredient such as a sugar pill -- or bupropion. Each participant received a series of three intravenous doses of methamphetamine as the study began and a second, identical series of doses six days after treatment with placebo or bupropion began.

Using a variety of subjective rating scales and questionnaires, participants reported on the subjective effects of the methamphetamine use at baseline and again after treatment with placebo or bupropion. Subjects who took the medication reported a lesser high after treatment.