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Effects of Daily Treatment With Citicoline: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Cocaine-Dependent Volunteers

Licata, Stephanie C. PhD; Penetar, David M. PhD; Ravichandran, Caitlin PhD; Rodolico, John PhD; Palmer, Christopher MD; Berko, Jeff BA; Geaghan, Thomas MA; Looby, Alison MA; Peters, Erica BA; Ryan, Elizabeth MA; Renshaw, Perry F. MD, PhD; Lukas, Scott E. PhD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 5 - Issue 1 - p 57-64
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181d80c93
Original Research

Many pharmacotherapies for treating cocaine dependence are aimed at reducing drug effects, alleviating craving, and preventing relapse. We demonstrated previously that citicoline, a compound used to repair neuronal damage in stroke and brain injury, is safe in cocaine-abusing volunteers.

Objectives: This study assessed the effectiveness of an 8-week citicoline treatment period and 4-week follow-up in cocaine-dependent individuals.

Methods: Twenty-nine healthy nontreatment-seeking, cocaine-dependent male and female volunteers were randomized in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 18 of whom completed the treatment period of the study. Participants took citicoline (500 mg twice daily) or matched placebo each day and recorded the measures of craving and drug use. Participants visited the laboratory twice a week for urine screens and to attend weekly group therapy sessions.

Results: Citicoline had no effect on cocaine craving or total use.

Conclusions: Although the current preliminary results from this small trial suggest that citicoline is not an effective treatment for heavy cocaine users, further investigation on efficacy citicoline as a treatment for substance dependence in other settings may be warranted.

From the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory (S.C.L., D.M.P., C.R., J.R., C.P., J.B., T.G., A.L., E.P., E.R., S.E.L.), McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA; and Brain Institute and Department of Psychiatry (P.F.R.), University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT.

Received for publication October 28, 2008; accepted February 7, 2010.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Stephanie C. Licata, PhD, Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478. E-mail:

Supported by the National Institute on Drug abuse grants DA011098 (to S.E.L.), T32 DA015036 (to S.E.L.), K24DA15116 (to P.F.R.), and K05DA00343 (to S.E.L.).

© 2011 American Society of Addiction Medicine