The Effect of Melatonin Upon Post-Acute Withdrawal Among Males in a Residential Treatment Program (M-PAWS)


Duquesne University

Status and phase

Phase 2
Phase 1


Substance Withdrawal Syndrome


Dietary Supplement: Matched Placebo
Dietary Supplement: Melatonin

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Individuals recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction initially experience the symptoms of acute withdrawal before experiencing the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal (PAWS). PAWS include a wide array of emotional and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, and stress. Previous studies have shown that melatonin therapy was beneficial to alleviate anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep disturbances. However, no randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials have been conducted in males who are experiencing PAWS. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of 5 mg melatonin given nightly for four weeks on weekly assessed, self-reported anxiety, depressive symptoms, insomnia, and stress in males with PAWS who reside in a residential treatment center.

Full description

Approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board at Duquesne University prior to the study implementation. The trial was a single-center, randomized, double-blind, matched placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial conducted in males 18 years of age and older who are in a residential treatment program for chemical dependency at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center (865 West North Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15233) in the United States of America. Convenience sampling was used to recruit individuals from July 2015 to December 2015. A total sample of 70 participants were enrolled and block randomized with an allocation ratio of 1:1 for the interventions. Financial compensation of $5.00 U.S. was initiated at Day 7 and continued at each follow-up (Day 14, Day 21 & Day 28). Intention-to-treat and complete case analyses were conducted. No interim analysis was performed to assess efficacy. Participants completed study materials in a designated room at the center. Briefly, this study involved the completion of four validated surveys assessing self-reported perceived severity of anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale; GAD-7), depression (Personal Health Questionnaire Depression Scale; PHQ-8), stress (Perceived Stress Scale; PSS-14), sleep complaints and how is sleep affecting daily life (Pittsburgh Sleep Symptom Questionnaire - Insomnia; PSSQ-1) at five time points (Baseline, Day 7, Day 14, Day 21, and Day 28). To address any adverse events relating to the interventions, the participant was encouraged to report any perceived adverse events to the investigator. To protect the anonymity and confidentiality of the participants, all paperwork were de-identified but contained their unique identification number.


70 patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Males 18 years of age and older who are actively participating in therapy at a residential treatment program
  • Willingness to participate in the 4-week study
  • Willingness to provide self-reported demographic, social, medical, medication, preventive, and mental health histories
  • Willingness to complete self-assessments of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress at designated time intervals
  • Willingness to administer daily before bed a capsule containing either 5 mg melatonin plus vegetable fiber filler or only the vegetable fiber filler without melatonin (i.e., the matched placebo).
  • English speaking

Exclusion criteria

  • Patients already taking melatonin
  • Adverse history with melatonin supplementation

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Triple Blind

70 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

Active Comparator group
capsule containing 5mg melatonin plus cellulose
Dietary Supplement: Melatonin
Matched Placebo
Placebo Comparator group
capsule containing cellulose
Dietary Supplement: Matched Placebo

Trial contacts and locations



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