Objective: Individuals who are methamphetamine dependent exhibit higher rates of cognitive dysfunction than healthy people who do not use methamphetamine, and this dysfunction may have a negative effect on the success of behavioral treatments for the disorder. Therefore, a medication that improves cognition, such as modafinil (Provigil), may serve as a useful adjunct to behavioral treatments for methamphetamine dependence. Although cognitive-enhancing effects of modafinil have been reported in several populations, little is known about the effects of modafinil in methamphetamine-dependent individuals. We thus sought to evaluate the effects of modafinil on the cognitive performance of methamphetamine-dependent and healthy individuals.
Method: Seventeen healthy subjects and 24 methamphetamine- dependent subjects participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Effects of modafinil (200 mg, single oral dose) were assessed on participants' performance on tests of inhibitory control, working memory, and processing speed/attention.
Results: Across subjects, modafinil improved performance on a test of sustained attention, with no significant improvement on any other cognitive tests. However, within the methamphetamine-dependent group only, participants with a high baseline frequency of methamphetamine use demonstrated a greater effect of modafinil on tests of inhibitory control and processing speed than those participants with low baseline use of methamphetamine.
Conclusions: Although modafinil produced limited effects across all participants, methamphetamine-dependent participants with a high baseline use of methamphetamine demonstrated significant cognitive improvement on modafinil relative to those with low baseline methamphetamine use. These results add to the findings from a clinical trial that suggested that modafinil may be particularly useful in methamphetamine-dependent subjects who use the drug frequently.