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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999 Mar;142(4):343-51.

Stress-induced craving and stress response in cocaine dependent individuals.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Two laboratory studies were conducted to examine the effects of acute psychological stress on craving and stress reactivity in cocaine abusers. In the first preliminary study, we examined the effects of a speech stressor task and a personalized stress imagery task on self-reported craving and emotional state in ten cocaine abusers. Both stressors led to significant decreases in neutral and joy states, and significant increases in fear ratings as compared to baseline ratings. In addition, the stress imagery condition led to significant increases in cocaine craving and sadness and anger ratings, as compared to baseline. Thus, the personalized stress imagery task appeared to be more effective than the speech stress task in inducing craving in the laboratory. The second study examined the effects of stress imagery as compared to neutral imagery on cocaine craving, subjective anxiety and physiological responses in a second group of ten cocaine abusers. The stress imagery task once again produced significant increases in cocaine craving along with increases in heart rate, salivary cortisol and subjective anxiety ratings. These data are the first to document that acute psychological stress consistently increases craving for cocaine in cocaine abusers. The studies also provide a promising method for examining the association between stress and drug craving in the laboratory.

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