An antidote for addiction? Providence tests new meth treatment.

October 5, 2023 Providence Health Team

[3 min read]

In this article:

  • Drug overdoses have severe effects on millions of people each year, which is why Providence is working to find a solution. 

  • The METH-OD clinical trial tests if methamphetamine-binding antibodies can reverse the effects of meth intoxication.

  • Doctors and research coordinators at Providence make sure that patients receive holistic care through the METH-OD study.

  • One doctor involved in the study notes that this treatment has allowed him to better measure the impacts of his work and minimize suffering for patients with addiction.

METH-OD study provides hope for patients with addiction

More than 1.6 million people have abused methamphetamines in the last year. Over 30,000 of those died.

At Providence, we recognize the severity of the drug overdose crisis, and we’re working to find a solution. The METH-OD Clinical Trial aims to reverse the effects of meth intoxication and ultimately provide hope for our patients.

Treatment with purpose

If you asked Thomas Robey, M.D., about the meaning of his work, he’d tell you about the advice one of his mentors in school gave him.

“Pick something that really troubles you to study, and that’s what you should do research in,” he recalls hearing. “That way, you’ll wake up, and even if you’re having a bad day, you’ll still be interested in working on it.”

This statement perfectly aligns with our mission at Providence. We’re committed to caring for vulnerable populations who are traditionally overlooked in health systems.

That’s why we introduced the METH-OD clinical trial. METH-OD is a research trial that tests if methamphetamine-binding antibodies can reverse the effects of meth intoxication or overdose. The antibody works by binding to the meth, acting as a sponge and transferring it to the kidney and liver.

In return, the “high” effects are minimized, and the patient is better able to complete their everyday tasks and begin to re-integrate into society.

Custom care at Providence

“What makes this study particularly unique is that we’re doing this cutting-edge research in a community hospital,” says Dr. Robey, who is an emergency physician and local principal investigator of the study.

The research coordinators play a crucial role in both approaching the patients and interacting with the physicians. This makes sure that each patient receives appropriate care for their needs.

“Despite the chaos in the emergency department, we’re not going to push them aside just to get the next person into the next room,” says Clinical Research Manager Dean Rocco, “We’re going to do everything we can to show them how we care and how we really are looking for a meaningful solution for them.”

Great challenges, even greater rewards

Methamphetamine is found throughout the United States but is especially common in the Western U.S. With a need for drug overdose treatments all over the country, developments from the METH-OD study have the potential to help a wide range of patients, even those outside of Providence’s service areas.

The treatment helps heal not just the body, but also the whole person. Dr. Robey notes that just after a few days, patients begin to come in well-dressed alongside family members. Some even find housing.

“What makes this work is that what we’re doing is so uplifting and so promising,” he continues. The METH-OD clinical trial takes a holistic approach to medicine, placing compassion at the heart of our care.

A weight that’s lifted

For vulnerable populations, help like this doesn’t come along very often. Especially in the emergency department, research can be difficult. However, our team at Providence is dedicated to finding meaningful solutions for our patients.

Dr. Robey talks about the importance of this treatment: “At the end of my shift, I know that I’ve treated patients with heart attacks, infections and COVID,” he says, “But before the METH-OD Clinical Trial, I was not entirely sure that my patients with addiction had any less suffering after I’ve worked with them. It’s like a weight is lifted when you have a medication like this.”


Contributing Caregiver

Dr. Thomas Robey is an emergency physician and METH-OD Local Principal Investigator at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.

Find a doctor

Providence is dedicated to the health of each of our chemically dependent patients. We evaluate each patient holistically and treat them with the respect and concern they deserve. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.

Our full spectrum of care includes detoxification, inpatient treatment and a wide range of aides and services for our outpatients. To learn more about treatment options, visit our Chemical Dependency services page.

Download the Providence App

We’re with you, wherever you are. Make Providence’s app your personalized connection to your health. Schedule appointments, conduct virtual visits, message your doctor, view your health records and more. Learn more and download the app.

Related resources

Providence in Northern California provided $140 million in 2022 in community benefits

Providence helps shape the future of health care for the Inland Northwest

Q&A: Recovery in the right place

The beauty of recovery: Detoxing and healing with compassion

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

More Content by Providence Health Team
Previous Article
Dr. Urba receives award for his contributions to science and community
Dr. Urba receives award for his contributions to science and community

Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon, and research director, Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Walter J....

Next Article
Virus-based vaccine study at Providence may lead to new treatment for prostate cancer
Virus-based vaccine study at Providence may lead to new treatment for prostate cancer

A new clinical trial at Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon is evaluating an immunotherapy viral vector v...