The University of Newcastle, Australia

Study trialling ADHD drug to treat ice dependence

Monday, 30 July 2018

A world-first clinical trial to treat people with problem methamphetamine ('ice') use is now underway in the Hunter.


The LiMA (lisdexamfetamine for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence) study is testing if a high dosage of lisdexamfetamine – an existing drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – is effective in reducing methamphetamine use, cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine dependence in the world,” Professor Adrian Dunlop”, Director of Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services for Hunter New England Health*, said.

“We’ve consistently seen methamphetamine users presenting for treatment over the past decade in Newcastle and the Hunter region,”

“While counselling is quite effective for many people with less problematic methamphetamine use, we currently don’t have a proven medication treatment for severe methamphetamine dependence.”

“Dexamphetamine has been used as a treatment for methamphetamine dependence with some initial promising results”.

Lisdexamphetamine is a slow release form of dexamphetamine, with a slower onset of action and is metabolised by the body in a way that is very hard to be used non-medically,” Professor Dunlop said.

“If you crush up the drug and inject it, you are not going to get a rush because it still has to be turned into dexamphetamine in your blood.”

The LiMA study is currently recruiting 180 people in specialist Drug and Alcohol treatment centres in Newcastle, Sydney (St Vincent’s Hospital and Western Sydney Drug Health), and Adelaide.

Participants will receive either lisdexamfetamine or a placebo (a medication with no active ingredients), in addition to counselling treatment.

Results from the two groups will be compared and analysed, and the findings will help to inform the future use of lisdexamfetamine in the treatment of methamphetamine dependence.

For further information please contact Hunter New England Local Health District, Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services 0428 464 820.

*Professor Dunlop is Director of Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services for Hunter New England Health, Conjoint Professor with the University of Newcastle Centre for Translational Neuroscience and the Hunter Medical Research Institute Brain and Mental Health Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

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