Purpose of review
This review examines progress being made in the treatment of cocaine abuse and dependence, with a particular focus on pharmacotherapies. Medications with apparently very different mechanisms of action have been reported to reduce cocaine use in controlled clinical trials in outpatient settings. This review will summarize the latest findings in this area.
Of all the medications tested to date, disulfiram has demonstrated the most consistent effect to reduce cocaine use. Several medications have been reported to reduce cocaine use in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, namely baclofen, modafinil, tiagabine, and topiramate. All pharmacotherapy trials in cocaine-dependent patients include a behavioral therapy that is common to all participants. Consequently, these pharmacotherapy trials can be considered to evaluate whether the medication is adding to the effect of the behavioral therapy.
Confirmatory clinical studies are necessary to replicate the initial efficacy findings for baclofen, modafinil, tiagabine, and topiramate. More research is needed in both cocaine and cocaine–alcohol dependent populations. Once confirmatory studies have been carried out, testing of rational medication combinations with different behavioral therapies is an obvious next step to increase the ability to manage cocaine dependence.