Effects of perceived cocaine availability on subjective and objective responses to the drug

Rinah T. Yamamoto*, Katherine H. Karlsgodt, David Rott, Scott E. Lukas, Igor Elman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Several lines of evidence suggest that cocaine expectancy and craving are two related phenomena. The present study assessed this potential link by contrasting reactions to varying degrees of the drug's perceived availability. Method: Non-treatment seeking individuals with cocaine dependence were administered an intravenous bolus of cocaine (0.2 mg/kg) under 100% ('unblinded'; N = 33) and 33% ('blinded'; N = 12) probability conditions for the delivery of drug. Subjective ratings of craving, high, rush and low along with heart rate and blood pressure measurements were collected at baseline and every minute for 20 minutes following the infusions. Results: Compared to the 'blinded' subjects, their 'unblinded' counterparts had similar craving scores on a multidimensional assessment several hours before the infusion, but reported higher craving levels on a more proximal evaluation, immediately prior to the receipt of cocaine. Furthermore, the 'unblinded' subjects displayed a more rapid onset of high and rush cocaine responses along with significantly higher cocaine-induced heart rate elevations. Conclusion: These results support the hypothesis that cocaine expectancy modulates subjective and objective responses to the drug. Provided the important public health policy implications of heavy cocaine use, health policy makers and clinicians alike may favor cocaine craving assessments performed in the settings with access to the drug rather than in more neutral environments as a more meaningful marker of disease staging and assignment to the proper level of care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


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