Reduced Stimulant Use Linked to Improvement in Indicators of Recovery

Reduced use associated with decreases in craving for primary drug, drug-seeking behaviors, depression severity
Reduced Stimulant Use Linked to Improvement in Indicators of Recovery
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- For individuals with stimulant use disorder, reduced stimulant use is associated with improvement in clinical indicators of recovery, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Addiction.

Masoumeh Aminesmaeili, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the validity of reduced stimulant use as an outcome measure in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of pharmacological interventions for stimulant use disorder in a secondary analysis of a pooled dataset of 13 RCTs. The trials included 2,062 individuals seeking treatment for cocaine or methamphetamine use disorders. Reduced stimulant use was validated against a set of clinical indicators.

The researchers found that more of the participants reduced the frequency of primary drug use than achieved abstinence (18.0 versus 14.2 percent, respectively). Significant associations were seen for reduced use with decreases in craving for the primary drug, drug-seeking behaviors, and depression severity (60.1, 41.0, and 39.9 percent, respectively) and in multiple measures of global improvement in psychosocial functioning and severity of drug-related problems, although less strongly than abstinence. Sustained clinical benefit at follow-up was seen in association with reduced use, as confirmed by negative urine tests (adjusted odds ratio, 0.50 for reduced use versus no reduction in use).

"This study provides evidence that reducing the overall use of drugs is important and clinically meaningful. This shift may open opportunities for medication development that can help individuals achieve these improved outcomes, even if complete abstinence is not immediately achievable or wanted," coauthor Mehdi Farokhnia, M.D., M.P.H., also from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a statement.

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