December 01, 2005
Bupropion Reduces Methamphetamine Cravings

Addicts participating in a small study at UCL reported less intense cravings for methamphetamine as a result of taking bupropion.

A new study led by researchers at UCLA's Semel Institute suggests the antidepressant bupropion may help treat methamphetamine addiction. No medications presently are approved for treating methamphetamine addicts.

Appearing Nov. 23 as an advance online publication of the peer-reviewed journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the study finds bupropion blunts the methamphetamine "high" and reduces cravings prompted by visual cues such as ambient drug use.

The research team hypothesizes that bupropion reduces the effects of methamphetamine by preventing the drug from entering brain cells, where methamphetamine can produce release of neurotransmitters that cause feelings of euphoria.

The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of bupropion for treating methamphetamine addiction in humans. A multisite Phase II clinical trial led by UCLA researchers is in progress.

Bupropion is found in the anti-nicotine drug Zyban and the anti-depressant Wellbutrin. So meth addicts could easily start trying to use bupropion right now to help them quit. Since a lot of meth users also smoke cigarettes they might also find it easier to quit smoking at the same time.

Drug addiction is a sign that humans are not adapted to the environments they've created for themselves using advances in technology. We were not selected for by evolution to handle the drugs that scientists have turned up. We need to develop technologies which will allow us to adapt ourselves to the elements in our environment which many of us can not handle. Lest you think the "many of us" doesn't include you I have a few questions to ask you: Are you overweight? Do you get less than an optimal amount of exercise? Ever had any problems with addictions or substance abuse? Have any destructive or at least partially disabling cravings? Spend too much time reading on the internet?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 December 01 10:19 PM  Brain Addiction

Schess81 said at December 2, 2005 11:37 AM:

"We need to develop technologies which will allow us to adapt ourselves to the elements in our environment which many of us can not handle"

I don't disagree with this statement at all, but it does seem rather vague. What technologies/ solutions do you have in mind? Genetic engineering, perhaps?

Marvin said at December 3, 2005 11:36 AM:

A spacesuit allows us to adapt ourselves to the environment of the vacuum of space, which many of us could not handle otherwise. Buildings of certain architectural design will survive tornadoes and hurricanes. Amphetamines can allow sufferers of ADD to thrive in the modern classroom and work environment.

Most meth addicts don't want to quit. To them, meth is just another technology that allows them to adapt to the shitty elements in their environment that they can not handle.

Randall, if you can find a way to cause drug addicts to really want to quit, and do something productive and fulfilling with their lives, you would be a modern hero. Drug addiction preys on the shallow affluent, people who achieved the means before they developed the character. Shallowness is the natural state of humans. Our systems of schooling and child raising have managed to hold most people in a shallow state all the way through puberty and well into early adulthood. Our entire culture seems to have missed the point of life, so why is it any surprise that so many fall into drug dependency?

crush41 said at December 4, 2005 7:24 PM:


How much of a part can industry play in forcing people to conform successfully to technological developments? With double-digit healthcare cost increases, do you think more companies are going to follow the sentiments of Wal-Mart, Weyco, and Union Pacific?

This is something that can be implemented now. While it wouldn't be a cure-all, the propensity to indulge in destructive behavior must decrease as the price of doing so becomes higher. Employee-sponsored workout programs have always seemed like a good idea to me as well--are you aware of any studies looking at the correlation between regular exercise and substance abuse? Obviously it will be inversely related to obesity, but I bet it would be with drug and alcohol use as well.

"Spend too much time reading on the internet?"

Yeah, and a lawsuit's heading your way jackass.

Randall Parker said at December 4, 2005 8:18 PM:


I've discussed various ideas in the past. But to summarize some of them for adapting ourselves to our environmment:

1) Vaccines, gene therapies, and other techniques to stop substance abuse.

2) Gene therapies to adjust our metabolisms to not get fat or high cholesterol from eating refined diets.

3) Gene therapy or drugs or something else to simulate exercise to yield its beneficial effects.

4) Drugs or gene therapy or perhaps nanobots to suppress feelings of stress. "Fight or flight" and other reactions have no adaptive value in industrial societies except on very rare occasions.

5) Reengineer some of our institutions to make them fit better with how human metabolism. For example, do not make adolescents go to school so early in the morning given that their circadian rhythms are out of sync with the way adults wake and work. Or use extremely bright lights or drugs to shift melatonin release to get adolescents to wake up sooner. Or develop highly excellent drugs that would let them sleep sooner.

Most of my ideas involve modifying the human metabolism with biotech. But I've also argued for technologies outside of ourselves to adjust us to our industrial environments. The latter makes more sense now because those are changes we could make now.

Randall Parker said at December 4, 2005 8:23 PM:


In order for employers to best incentivize less destructive behaviors the employers would need ways to measure behavioral changes. So, for example, would people agree to getting their blood tested for harmful drug use in order to get better medical insurance? The testing is both expensive and difficult to get people to agree to.

I think employers could do a lot to make workplaces healthier for employees though. For example, reduce the size of cubicle areas with walls so that a cough by one person can't expose 50 people to viruses. Also, make it easier for employees to eat healthier foods. Get rid of junk food machines and give away fruit.

tiffany said at April 20, 2006 2:05 AM:

I would like some more information on NAC and Buprophion if at all possible? And thank you for helping your part of the solution not stuck in the problem like melvin, who probably never took a risky road or drew outside of the fucking lines while coloring, sure knows how to be problematic himself. marvin(Melvin)?? Hold on tight because your thing that you can't seem to fix or solve, overcome, understand? is gonna smack you in the face over and over everyday til you get help and let's hope that when that day comes you quit getting smacked in the face!!!!!!and you ask for help, pedestal.

Cynthia Goelling said at January 27, 2007 1:40 PM:

I have been taking Wellbutrin for several months, and have increased my dose recently to 450 from 300--I am taking it primarily for treating adult ADD, which it does a fine job of helping me organize my day more efficiently. I also did stop smoking as a side effect--just a plain lack of craving for cigarettes.

Has there been any indication that this drug also help with reducing cravings for alcohol? I have found that I also could care less if I drank anymore--and I was someone who drank daily until recently, and have done so for many years. Highly functional, but still drank.

I am curious if this drug has had the same impact on others.

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