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News

Disulfiram combined with behavioral therapy effective in treating cocaine addiction

Yale University : 03 March, 2004  (Company News)
Disulfiram was previously shown to help some patients stay sober by causing nausea, flushing, vomiting, and throbbing headache after ingesting even small amounts of alcohol. This study found disulfiram also helps cocaine users, particularly those who are not dependent on alcohol.
The drug disulfiram, combined with behavioral therapy, appears effective in treating persons dependent on cocaine, according to a study published in the March issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry.

Disulfiram was previously shown to help some patients stay sober by causing nausea, flushing, vomiting, and throbbing headache after ingesting even small amounts of alcohol. This study found disulfiram also helps cocaine users, particularly those who are not dependent on alcohol.

Alcohol use can impair judgment and lower resistance to cravings for cocaine. These researchers hypothesized that by reducing alcohol use with disulfiram, individuals might be less likely to abuse cocaine. However, use of disulfiram had not been evaluated in the general population of cocaine users.

The principal investigator, Kathleen Carroll, psychiatry professor at Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues, randomly assigned 121 cocaine-dependent adults to receive either disulfiram or placebo over a 12-week period. Participants were randomized to participate in either cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy, a less structured form of behavioral therapy.

Participants receiving disulfiram reduced their cocaine use significantly more than those receiving placebo, and those assigned to CBT reduced their cocaine use significantly more than those assigned to IPT, the authors found. The benefits of disulfiram and CBT were most pronounced in participants who were not alcohol-dependent and who did not drink during the study.

'This is the first placebo-controlled trial, to our knowledge, to demonstrate that disulfiram therapy is effective in nonalcoholic cocaine-dependent outpatients,' Caroll said. 'Moreover, these findings suggest that disulfiram therapy is especially effective for nonalcoholic cocaine users.'
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