Psychostimulants to reduce stimulant use — evidence summary

Summary of the evidence

Likely to be beneficial

Substitution therapy has already proved to be effective for smoking and opioid use. Evidence is emerging around the effectiveness of pychostimulants prescription for stimulants related problems.
Psychostimulants, namely modafinil, methylphenidate, or amphetamines (mixed amphetamine salts, lisdexamphetamine, and dextroamphetamine) were found in a systematic review (Tardelli et al., 2020, 38 RCTs, N = 2889) to be effective in:

  • increasing rates of sustained abstinence [risk ratio (RR) = 1.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (1.10, 1.92)] and duration of abstinence [mean difference (MD) = 3.34, 95%CI = (1.06, 5.62)], particularly in patients with cocaine use disorder (although very low-quality evidence).
  • Prescription amphetamines were particularly beneficial in promoting sustained abstinence in patients with cocaine use disorder [RR = 2.44, 95% CI = (1.66, 3.58)], and
  • higher doses of PPs (eg. >60 mg/dose of dextroamphetamine) were particularly efficacious for treatment of cocaine use disorder [RR = 1.95, 95% CI = (1.38, 2.77)].
  • Treatment with prescription amphetamines also yielded more cocaine-negative urines [MD = 8.37%, 95% CI = (3.75, 12.98)].

There was no effect of PPs on the retention in treatment.


Note: this evidence summary is only valid for the outcomes, target groups, settings and substances/patterns of use described below.

Name of response option:
Pharmacological treatment
Desired outcome(s):
reduce substance use
Specific substance or pattern of use:

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