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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Jun 1;102(1-3):144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.02.010. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Valproate treatment and cocaine cue reactivity in cocaine dependent individuals.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, 550 1st Ave., New York, NY 10016, United States of America.


Based on prior clinical trials indicating that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-based anticonvulsant medications reduce drug craving in cocaine dependent study participants, we tested the effects of valproate treatment on cue-induced cocaine craving. Crack cocaine dependent individuals (N=20) were tested in a randomized, placebo-controlled, within-subjects, crossover study design. Valproate treatment was titrated up to 1500 mg/day by Day 6 of treatment, cue testing was completed on Day 8 of treatment, and all study participants underwent a washout period of 5 days between active and placebo medication treatment periods. Testing included both cocaine and neutral cue exposure sessions, presented in a random and counterbalanced order. Main effects of cue exposure were found for subjective ratings of "desire to use cocaine now", the cocaine craving index, cocaine-like high, and cocaine withdrawal. Treatment interaction effects were found with "desire to use cocaine now", which underwent a greater increase following cocaine cue exposure in the valproate condition. Main effects of medication treatment were found, in which lower blood pressure and heart rate, and higher plasma cortisol levels, were associated with valproate treatment. Valproate treatment was also associated, at a trend level, with higher pre-test cocaine craving levels. The results demonstrate that cocaine cue reactivity is a robust phenomena across two assessment sessions, but fail to support the use of valproate as a means of reducing spontaneous and cue-induced cocaine craving. The use of valproate as a treatment for cocaine dependence is not supported.

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