Treatment of methadone-maintained patients with adult ADHD: double-blind comparison of methylphenidate, bupropion and placebo

Frances R Levin, Suzette M Evans, Daniel J Brooks, Aparna S Kalbag, Fatima Garawi, Edward V Nunes
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2006 February 1, 81 (2): 137-48
The purpose of this double-blind, three-arm, 12-week trial was to compare the efficacy of sustained-release methylphenidate or sustained-release bupropion to placebo in treating adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The randomized sample consisted of 98 methadone-maintained patients who were pre-dominantly male (57%) and 40% Caucasian, 40% Hispanic and 20% African American. All participants met DSM-IV criteria for adult ADHD, with 53% meeting DSM-IV criteria for cocaine dependence/abuse. In addition to medication and treatment as usual at a methadone program, individuals received weekly individual cognitive behavioral treatment. Other than current employment status, there were no significant demographic differences across the three treatment groups. Seventy percent completed the 12-week trial. There were no differences in retention rate based on treatment group. A reduction in ADHD symptoms using the adult ADHD rating scale was observed in all three groups, but there were no significant differences in outcome between treatments. The placebo response rate was high, with 46% of the placebo group self-reporting substantial improvement in their ADHD symptoms (>30% reduction in adult ADHD rating scale). Using other ADHD outcome measures, the placebo response and medication response rates were substantially lower. There was no evidence of misuse of medication or worsening of cocaine use among those randomized to methylphenidate. Taken together, sustained-release methylphenidate or sustained-release bupropion did not provide a clear advantage over placebo in reducing ADHD symptoms or additional cocaine use in methadone-maintained patients.

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