SAN ANTONIO - The opioid crisis has been front and center in recent years, but methamphetamine addictions - and overdoses - may be an even more pressing and overlooked problem in Texas.
"By the end of this year, over 4,000 Texans will have lost their lives to a drug overdose," says Dr. Jennifer Potter, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio. "I would estimate based on the data that we’re seeing that about 30 percent of those involve methamphetamine."
Doctors at UT Health San Antonio have launched two clinical trials in an effort to come up with treatment options for meth addicts.
"Methamphetamine really doesn’t have a lot of solid, reliable evidence-based treatments," Dr. Potter says.
The first study began in March. Treatment as part of a clinical study for methamphetamine addicts includes up to five sessions a week for two months.
"It uses magnetic stimulation to actually provide the treatment," says Dr. Tara Karns-Wright, UT Health San Antonio assistant professor.
Sessions last just 18 minutes.
"We’re looking to see if this treatment will help people who struggle with methamphetamine or cocaine use, reduce their urge to use," says research assistant Kierstyn Gallegos.
The goal is to provide scientifically approved options beyond incentives like cash or prizes to entice addicts to change their behavior.
"Doctors and counselors want a lot of options in the tool bag," Dr. Potter says. "If you only pull out a wrench, all you’re going to have is a wrench and wrenches don’t always work for every problem."
The second study, also a multi-year effort, will begin in July and involve medications.
"Recovery is possible. That’s something that a lot of times people who use drugs, and their families, think is impossible," Dr. Potter says.
Since the pandemic began, addiction - and overdose deaths - have skyrocketed in Texas.
"We’ve seen a 22 percent rise in the number of overdose deaths related to opioids and methamphetamine," Dr. Potter says. "That should be alarming every community in Texas."
If you want to reduce or stop your meth use and are not currently in formal substance use treatment, you can join UT Health San Antonio's program by contacting the research team at 1-210-450-3760 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.,
Find out more about the Be Well, Texas Clinic by clicking here.