Abuse of amitriptyline

JAMA. 1978 Sep 22;240(13):1372-3.


Amitriptyline hydrocholride (Elavil) is frequently used in treating mild to moderate depressive states. A survey of 346 persons enrolled in a methadone maintenance program showed that 86 (25%) had admitted taking amitriptyline with the purpose of achieving euphoria. Thin-layer chromatography of random urine specimens over five months showed that 34% of the patients had a positive result for amitriptyline at least once during this time. These results suggest that misuse of amitriptyline is not uncommon and should be carefully considered prior to prescribing this agent to narcotic dependent persons.

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline* / therapeutic use
  • Amitriptyline* / urine
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Self Medication
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • United States


  • Amitriptyline
  • Methadone