An experimental treatment program called Prometa offers addicts a glimmer of hope through a combination of an antihistamine, a sedative, and an antidepressant that stops drug cravings, the Seattle Times reports. Forty people who were stuck in the Pierce County, Wa., drug-court system because they couldn’t stay away from drugs were given a chance to try a new treatment for addiction through a pilot program. The county’s treatment center found that 92.5 percent of the participants remained drug-free in the first three months of the trial – while 98 percent of the weekly random urine analyses tested negative for substance abuse. The relapse rate in drug court is about 50 percent.
“The results are nothing less than stunning,” said John Hill, director of Pierce County’s public-defender department. “It’s the first major treatment change seen in 30 years.” Prometa is based on three medicines that were originally approved by the FDA for other maladies – the antihistamine hydroxyzine; flumezanil, which counteracts the effects of sedatives; and the anticonvulsant Neurontin – but which together have shown great promise for addicts. The treatment does not seek to replace conventional psychosocial treatment, such as 12-step programs, but to redress the brain-chemical damage and imbalances caused by addictions, said Dr. Matthew Torrington at the Prometa Center in Los Angeles.