What are other modalities used for treatment of agitation in patients affected by methamphetamine toxicity?

Updated: Oct 29, 2020
  • Author: John R Richards, MD, FAAEM; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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In a study of 146 patients presenting to the ED agitated, violent, or psychotic from methamphetamine, droperidol produced more rapid and profound sedation than lorazepam. Both droperidol and lorazepam produced clinically significant reductions in pulse, systolic blood pressure, respiration rate, and temperature over a 60-minute period. [58]

Newer antipsychotics such as olanzapine and risperidone have been used to treat amphetamine psychosis. [73, 74, 75] A study of 58 patients comparing haloperidol to olanzapine demonstrated that both were effective, but olanzapine had fewer adverse side effects such as extrapyramidal symptoms. [73] To date, no large studies in the setting of the ED have been performed. [76]

Dexmedetomidine, a sedative with analgesic, sympatholytic, and anxiolytic effects, has been used to control agitation in several case series involving amphetamine toxicity and may be useful if available in the ED. This drug has an added advantage of causing minimal respiratory depression. [77, 78, 68]

Lipid-soluble beta-blockers (eg, metoprolol), which cross the blood-brain barrier, may also mitigate agitation as well as sympathomimetic symptoms. [79, 68]

After chemical restraint has been successfully implemented, physical restraints should be loosened or removed altogether. If physical and chemical restraint is unsuccessful, rapid sequence induction, paralysis, and intubation may be required in extreme cases.

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