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Addict Biol. 2016 Jul;21(4):885-94. doi: 10.1111/adb.12241. Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone add-on therapy on mood, decision making and subsequent relapse of polydrug users.

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Max Wertheimer Minerva Center, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel.
Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Laboratory of Biological Psychiatry, Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Research Unit, Geha Mental Health Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.
Abarbanel Mental Health Center, Israel.
Department for the Treatment of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Israeli Ministry of Health, Israel.
Hebrew University, Israel.


A major problem in the treatment of addiction is predicting and preventing relapse following a rehabilitation program. Recently, in preclinical rodent studies dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) was found to markedly improve the resistance to drug reuse. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we examined the effect of DHEA on relapse rates in adult polydrug users taking part in a detoxification program enriched with intensive psychosocial interventions and aftercare. During treatment, participants (79 percent males, mean age 28) consumed DHEA (100 mg/day) or placebo daily for at least 30 days. Of the 121 initial volunteers, 64 participated for at least 1 month. While in treatment, DHEA reduced negative affect on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (F = 4.25, P = 0.04). Furthermore, in a 16-month follow-up, we found that reuse rates in the DHEA condition were about a third compared with placebo (12 versus 38 percent; χ(2)  = 5.03, P = 0.02). DHEA treatment also resulted in an increase in DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) 1 month following treatment, and the level of DHEA-S predicted relapse in the follow-up assessment.


Cortisol; DHEA; decision making; drug addiction; relapse

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