In a bid to tackle the growing public health issue of amphetamine addiction, The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded more than $1 million to conduct the nation’s largest clinical trial of medical treatment for “ice” addiction to date.
The urgency of this research stems from what has been described this year, as an ice epidemic sweeping the nation, by the head of the Australian Crime Commission, Chris Dawson. The Daily Telegraph’s reporting of Australia as the highest ice-using country in the English-speaking world, reinforces the need for urgent action.
In 2016, researchers from the University of Sydney, UNSW and the Australian National University plan to enroll and trial approximately 240 people from Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle who are heavily dependent on crystal methamphetamine or ice. The four year- long study will investigate the success of lisdexamphetamine as a replacement for amphetamines, with the hope that it can be used to help ice addicts control their cravings and in the long term wean their amphetamine dependence.
As part of a smaller study, lisdexamphetamine’s predecessor, dexamphetamine, has been trialled on 50 patients at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Unlike dexamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine, is taken orally in capsule form and only becomes active once it has been absorbed into the blood stream. Lead investigator, Clinical Professor Nick Lintzeris, University of Sydney, says he is confident that lisdexamphetamine can be used without close supervision, predicting it will reduce the risk of misuse, as it offers no additional high to those using the drug and lasts longer than its predecessor.
The Clinical Director of St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Dr Nadine Ezard likens lisdexamphetamine to nicotine replacement therapy and says, “We’re hoping if this medication works, it will offer a treatment for methamphetamine dependency before people run into severe problems.”
Let’s hope lisdexamphetamine is the ice breaker that’s so desperately required to curb our nation’s ice epidemic.
- Shock Reality Of Our Ice Addiction, (2015), Available: http://bit.ly/1WL2vDI, n.p., 2015, web, date accessed 9th November 2015.
- Lee, J. (2015).Researchers awarded more than $1 million to test ice addiction medicine. Available: http://bit.ly/1RH6jli