Reinforcing and subjective effects of methylphenidate in adults with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
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- Cite this article as:
- Kollins, S.H., English, J., Robinson, R. et al. Psychopharmacology (2009) 204: 73. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1439-6
There has been controversy over the abuse potential of methylphenidate (MPH) in the context of treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The objective of this study was to compare the reinforcing and subjective effects of oral MPH in adults with and without ADHD.
Materials and methods
Following screening, 33 adults (n = 16 with ADHD; n = 17 free from psychiatric diagnoses) completed four pairs of experimental sessions, each of which included a sampling session and a self-administration session. During sampling sessions, subjects received in randomized order 0 (placebo), 20, 40, and 60 mg MPH. During self-administration sessions, subjects completed a progressive ratio (PR) task to earn portions of the dose received on the corresponding sampling session. Subjective effects were recorded throughout all sessions. The main outcome measure for the study was the number of ratios completed on the PR task. Secondary measures included peak subjective effects and area-under-the-curve values for subjective effects.
Compared to the control group, the ADHD group completed more ratios on the PR task. Both groups showed robust effects of methylphenidate on subjective endpoints. Main effects of group were noted on subjective effects involving concentration and arousal.
Compared to placebo, MPH produced reinforcing effects only for the ADHD group and not for the control group. Increases in stimulant-related subjective effects in non-ADHD subjects were not associated with drug reinforcement.