Psychobiological responses to drug cues before and after methadone intake in heroin-dependent patients: a pilot study

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008 May;18(5):390-3. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2008.01.005. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Craving and stress frequently drive compulsive heroin use. Although methadone attenuates craving, drug-conditioned stimuli can trigger craving and possibly stress arousal in heroin-dependent patients receiving methadone maintenance. This study investigated drug cue-related craving, affectivity, and cortisol reactivity in 16 methadone-maintained patients before and after daily methadone. Unexpectedly, drug cues significantly increased craving after (t[15]=-4.27, p=0.001), but not before methadone intake. Patients displayed blunted cortisol response after post-methadone drug cues (t[15]=3.05, p=0.008) suggesting dissociated craving and cortisol reactivity after methadone intake of possible clinical relevance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / drug therapy
  • Behavior, Addictive / etiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence* / drug therapy
  • Heroin Dependence* / physiopathology
  • Heroin Dependence* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methadone / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Saliva / drug effects
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Narcotics
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocortisone