The cognitive benefits of modafinil to patients undergoing 7-day inpatient withdrawal from methamphetamine (MA) dependence were examined as part of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Recent evidence has identified modafinil-related improvements in treatment outcomes for MA-dependent patients; however, the benefits to cognition function, which is critical to treatment success but known to be impaired, has yet to be examined. The first 20 participants recruited to the study were administered either 200 mg of modafinil (once daily) or placebo, and a neuropsychological test battery (including an MA version of the emotional Stroop task) at admission (n = 17) and discharge (n = 14). Follow-up interviews were conducted at 1-month postdischarge (n = 13). After participant withdrawals (3 in each group), treatment was associated with a significant improvement in immediate verbal memory recall and nonsignificant trend toward improvement on executive function and delayed memory tasks. No benefit was seen for measures of verbal learning, visual memory, processing speed, or verbal fluency. All participants showed a significant attentional bias for MA-related stimuli on the emotional Stroop task. The magnitude of bias predicted both retention in treatment and relapse potential at follow-up but was not significantly ameliorated by modafinil treatment. While nonsignificant, the effect sizes of modafinil-related improvements in executive function and memory were consistent with those found in more robustly powered studies of cognitive benefits in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia, supporting the need for further research.
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