A Cure For Meth Addiction? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/15/06-Tyler

A Cure For Meth Addiction?

Michelle remembers the weekend of partying that was her realization she needed help to fight her methamphetamine addiction.

"This one particular night, there was an afterparty, and I brought a bunch of people back to my house.  I just remember walking into my living room and thinking 'What am I doing?  What are these people doing in my home? I've just got to stop. This is just not the kind of life that I want to live."

Shortly after that night, Michelle decided it was time to quit her twelve year meth addiction. While researching treatment options, she came across something that caught her attention.

"In the 11th hour of searching, this banner-ad came across that said 'Stop using methamphetamines in 3-4 days outpatient treatment.'  I knew, in that moment, that it was a God-send," says Michelle.

She called Research Across America, an independent outpatient clinic in Dallas conducting a study on the Prometa Protocol. 

Dr. Harold Urschel, the lead investigator of the study, says the treatment is a cocktail of three FDA approved drugs being used off-label to treat meth addiction. That means the medicines are being used for something other than what they were approved for.

"I was really skeptical about the Prometa Protocol. I really didn't think it would work, because I had worked with methamphetamine addicts in treatment for so long, really with no results, using all kinds of medications off-label, with very minimal results," says Dr. Urschel.

Patients take three days of very specific, targeted prescription medications and nutritional supplements. They wait three weeks, then go back for two additional days of treatment.

"What the Prometa Protocol does is, these medications go into your body and basically repair the damage done by the methamphetamine," says Dr. Urschel.

Of the 50 patients in the study, Dr. Urschel says 45 finished the entire month of treatment. 36 stayed in the program for two additional months of follow-up. Those 36 patients reported a 66 percent drop in methamphetamine use after taking the Prometa Protocol.

For Michelle, the results were dramatic. She say she smoked her last bowl of meth the day she went in for her first round of treatment. Within a few days, she says she felt like a totally different person.

"I woke up, and it was as if i had never done a drug in my entire life. I literally popped out of bed at like 6:30 in the morning. It was unbelievable. My mind was so clear, and I just kept shaking myself trying to see if I was dreaming," says Michelle.

The treatment costs about 18 thousand dollars, but Dr. Urschel says that's less than many in-patient treatment programs.

The treatment is being adopted in several drug court pilot programs across the country. Inmates get the treatment at a fraction of the cost to the courts; just more than four thousand dollars. If it works, the treatment could represent a savings to the Criminal Justice Department.

According to the Texas Department of Corrections, it costs about $48/day to keep an inmate at one of their substance abuse facilities. With an average stay of six months, it adds up to nearly nine thousand dollars for each inmate.

Critics say the Prometa Protocol is being rushed to the market without adequate testing. Dr. Urschel says if there was anything else out there like Prometa, he might agree with that. But he says in his 15 years of treating drug addiction, this is the first meth treatment which has shown any real promise.

Michelle remembers the day she picked up the phone to call her mother and tell her she was finally sober.

"I asked her if she was sitting down, and I said, 'I have something to share with you,' and I finally told her what I had done, because I didn't tell them what I had done, because I didn't know how it was going to turn out.  I just remember telling her, and she totally broke down in tears," says Michelle.

Michelle says in the year since she's been sober, her life has changed dramatically. She spends her days working, and her nights out with friends, instead of partying like she did when she was younger.

Michelle says finding the treatment when she did, was nothing short of a miracle. She says if she only had one word to describe what the Prometa Protocol has done for her, it would be 'peace.'

Research Across America is currently looking for participants for a new study on the Prometa Protocol. If you would like more information, call 972-4DOCTOR.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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