A systematic review of cognitive and behavioural therapies for methamphetamine dependence

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2008 May;27(3):309-17. doi: 10.1080/09595230801919494.


Introduction and aims: The use of methamphetamine is widespread and poses significant challenges for treatment providers. Much of the treatment knowledge about this group has been extrapolated from studies of treatment for cocaine dependence. Medications have been shown to be of limited effectiveness for methamphetamine users, making psychological interventions the treatment of choice.

Approach: This paper describes a systematic review of cognitive-behavioural and behavioural interventions for methamphetamine users. A systematic search of published literature was undertaken focusing only on randomised trials.

Key findings: There were a relatively small number of intervention studies that compared cognitive-behavioural or behavioural interventions using randomised trial methodology. Most commonly, studies examined cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) and/or contingency management (CM). Treatment with CBT appears to be associated with reductions in methamphetamine use and other positive changes, even over very short periods of treatment (two and four sessions). CM studies found a significant reduction of methamphetamine during application of the procedure, but it is not clear if these gains are sustained at post-treatment follow-up.

Implications: The review highlights that there are effective treatments for methamphetamine dependence. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) clinicians are familiar with these types of interventions and should use them and convey to clients that they are effective. Services and policy makers should ensure that best practice interventions are implemented within AOD services.

Conclusion: Psychological intervention is effective in addressing methamphetamine use and dependence. CBT and contingency management are two accessible interventions that are implemented easily within current AOD services. There is still more work to conduct in improving methamphetamine treatment, however, and further research into cognitive-behavioural and behavioural treatments for methamphetamine users is required, with a focus on improving longevity of the effect of intervention and improving effectiveness among more complex presentations.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methamphetamine