Low-dose amphetamine salts and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

by Horrigan JP, Barnhill LJ
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-7160, USA.

[email protected]

J Clin Psychiatry 2000 Jun; 61(6):414-7


BACKGROUND: Effective treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults are still being defined. Pediatric studies have suggested that a mixed amphetamine salt product (Adderall) is safe and effective in the treatment of childhood forms of ADHD. Presently, there are no reports in the scientific literature concerning the safety and efficacy of Adderall in adults with ADHD, which is the focus of this study.

METHOD: Twenty-four outpatients (mean age = 33.3 years) with DSM-IV ADHD were administered Adderall in an open-label fashion, starting at 5 mg p.o. b.i.d., with titration according to clinical response, across a 16-week period. Relatives or spouses of each patient completed serial checklists (including the Copeland Symptom Checklist and the Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Scales). Prospectively collected data were analyzed retrospectively.

RESULTS: Thirteen patients (54%) responded in a positive manner to Adderall, based on Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale scores. The mean end dose for responders was 10.77 mg/day (0.14 mg/kg/day). An intent-to-treat analysis revealed a decrease in the mean Copeland score from 99.05 to 63.3 (p < .001), while the mean Brown score dropped from 76.75 to 50.85 (p < .0001). Nine patients (38%) were poor responders or nonresponders to Adderall. Acute anxiety symptoms occurred in 4 of 7 patients with a comorbid anxiety diagnosis. CONCLUSION: Adderall may be an effective agent for the treatment of adult forms of ADHD, with positive responses occurring at relatively low doses, at least for some individuals. However, Adderall may precipitate anxiety in vulnerable individuals. Further study is required.