Assessing the abuse potential of methylphenidate in nonhuman and human subjects: A review

Scott H. Kollins, Emily K. MacDonald, Craig R. Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

309 Scopus citations

Abstract

Methylphenidate (MPH) is widely used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults. Methylphenidate is clearly effective for the treatment of ADHD, but there is controversy as to whether it has significant abuse potential like other psychostimulants (e.g., D-amphetamine and cocaine). In general, the drug is believed to be abused at rates much lower than those for other stimulants. The present review examines studies that investigated the behavioral pharmacological profile of methylphenidate and discusses how results from these studies address its abuse liability. Using MEDLINE search terms methylphenidate, drug discrimination, reinforcement, self-administration, subjective effects, subject-rated effects, abuse potential, and abuse liability, along with a review of the references from identified articles, 60 studies were located in which the reinforcing, discriminative-stimulus, or subjective effects of methylphenidate were directly assessed in nonhumans or humans. Forty-eight (80.0%) of the studies reviewed indicate that methylphenidate either functions in a manner similar to D-amphetamine or cocaine (e.g., functions as a reinforcer, substitutes fully in drug discrimination experiments), or produces a pattern of subjective effects suggestive of abuse potential. The results are discussed as they pertain to factors that may account for the apparent discrepancy in abuse rates between methylphenidate and other stimulants, including characterization of actual abuse rates, defining abuse and misuse, pharmacokinetic factors, and validity of abuse liability assays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-627
Number of pages17
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Volume68
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work on this manuscript was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA10325) to C.R.R.

Keywords

  • Drug abuse
  • Drug reinforcement
  • Drug-discrimination
  • Methylphenidate
  • Subjective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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