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Desipramine treatment of cocaine-dependent patients with depression: a placebo-controlled trial.

Author(s): McDowell D, Nunes EV, Seracini AM, Rothenberg J, Vosburg SK, Ma GJ, Petkova E

Affiliation(s): Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Publication date & source: 2005-11-01, Drug Alcohol Depend., 80(2):209-21.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that desipramine would be an effective treatment in cocaine abusers with current depressive disorders. METHOD: This was a randomized, 12-week, double-blind, 'placebo-controlled trial of outpatients (N = 111) meeting DSM-III-R criteria for cocaine dependence and major depression or dysthymia (by SCID interview). Participants were treated with desipramine, up to 300 mg per day, or matching placebo. All patients received weekly individual manual-guided relapse prevention therapy. Weekly outcome measures included the Clinical Global Impression Scale, self-reported cocaine use and craving, urine toxicology, and the Hamilton Depression Scale (biweekly). Summary measures of mood and cocaine use outcome were compared between treatment groups with chi2- or t-tests. Dichotomous summary measures of depression response and cocaine response were the primary outcomes. Mixed effect models were also fit to explore the relationship of cocaine use to mood improvement and treatment over weeks in the trial. RESULTS: Desipramine was associated with a higher rate of depression response (51%, 28/55) than placebo (32%, 18/56) (p < 0.05), but treatment groups did not differ in rate of cocaine response. Depression improvement was associated with improvement in cocaine use. Desipramine was associated with more dropouts due to side effects and medical adverse events, while placebo was associated with more dropouts due to psychiatric worsening. CONCLUSIONS: Desipramine was an effective treatment for depression among cocaine-dependent patients. Improvement in mood was associated with improvement in cocaine abuse, but a direct effect of medication on cocaine outcome was not clearly established and rates of sustained abstinence were low. Future research should examine newer antidepressant medications with more benign side effect profiles and combinations of behavioral and pharmacological treatments to maximize effects on cocaine use.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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