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Comparing the Abuse Potential of Methylphenidate Versus Other Stimulants: A Review of Available Evidence and Relevance to the ADHD Patient

Scott H. Kollins, PhD

Published: September 1, 2003

Article Abstract

The use of psychostimulants to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has beencontroversial for a number of reasons. In an effort to clarify the extent to which the psychostimulantmethylphenidate has abuse potential, the existing published evidence has been reviewed and is summarizedhere, with an emphasis on delineating a number of related but independent issues that areoften confused. Methylphenidate produces behavioral effects associated with abuse potential as assessedby traditional assays, but the relevance of this literature to the clinical use of the drug in thetreatment of ADHD is ambiguous at best. Existing neuropharmacologic data suggest that methylphenidatehas pharmacokinetic properties that reduce its abuse potential as compared with otherstimulant drugs of abuse, such as cocaine.

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