The active ingredient in Ritalin, a medication used to control the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, could help boost self-control in cocaine addicts, a study published Monday showed.
Yale University psychiatry professor Chiang-shan Ray Li administered Ritalin's active ingredient, methylphenidate, to volunteers who were addicted to cocaine, and asked the participants to perform a computer test that assessed impulse control.
The participants were instructed to quickly press a button whenever a "go" prompt appeared on the screen.
Study participants who were given methylphenidate were better able to resist pressing the button than were participants who were given a placebo, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.
"The main finding of this work is that methylphenidate improved inhibitory control in cocaine-dependent patients," the study says, suggesting that the active ingredient in Ritalin should be investigated as a treatment for disorders such as addictions, which are related to self-control deficits.