The effect of DHEA complementary treatment on heroin addicts participating in a rehabilitation program: a preliminary study

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008 Jun;18(6):406-13. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2007.12.003. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


We evaluated the effect of DHEA complementary treatment in opiate addicts undergoing detoxification. DHEA (100 mg/day) or placebo was added to the routine medication protocol in a randomized, double blind controlled study. Follow-up for 12 months was conducted. Two separate DHEA-treated subgroups were identified by the Fuzzy clustering method: one showed statistically significant improvement in the severity of withdrawal symptoms, depression and anxiety scores (n=34; p<0.001 for all) and the other subgroup deteriorated in all measures (n=15). DHEA at the end of the detoxification program showed a tendency towards correlation with the duration of abstinence (r=0.6843; p>0.05; n=6), while a negative correlation was obtained with the cortisol level (r=-0.900; p=0.005, n=8). The completion-rate of the DHEA-improved subgroup was greater than in the DHEA-deteriorated subgroup (64.7% vs. 33.3%, respectively). The influence of supplementary DHEA treatment was mostly effective in heroin addicts who had not previously used either cocaine or benzodiazepines and who had experienced only few withdrawal programs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fuzzy Logic
  • Heroin Dependence / complications
  • Heroin Dependence / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Hydrocortisone