PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There is no FDA-approved treatment for meth addiction. But a 2021 study revealed promising results by combining two different drugs — and that treatment is now available in Portland.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare now has eight billboards around the city advertising a “new effective addiction treatment for meth, opioids, alcohol.” What is unusual here is the use of the words “meth” and “treatment” together.

That NIH study revealed a combination of naltrexone and bupropion showed success.

“We’re pretty desperate for tools, better tools,” said Tracy Winn, the Medical Director of Substance Use at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

Naltrexone is traditionally used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction by blocking receptors in the brain. Bupropion is prescribed as an anti-depressant and to help people stop smoking.

“The one hand we’re replacing dopamine to help people feel better. And then on the other hand, we’re blocking opiates so that if people do continue to use, it’s less interesting, it’s not as rewarding. It doesn’t feel as good,” Winn said. “It’s like a positive and a negative put together.”

The combination is not a meth miracle cure.

The study revealed the combination helped 13.6% of patients with their addictions over the course of 12 weeks.

“Using medications to give people a little bit of relief, just a little bit of stabilization, and then we can do all the other things that we know are so important for substance use recovery, like counseling and attending groups and attending meetings and building that community,” Winn told KOIN 6 News.

She said the neurotoxicity of the new meth makes it much more challenging to engage people in recovery because of the damage it does to the brain. Getting started with treatment is the hardest part and she thinks this new treatment will help.