Comparison of desipramine or carbamazepine to placebo for crack cocaine-dependent patients
The authors compared the effects of desipramine or carbamazepine to placebo in an intensive outpatient program for cocaine abuse. Subjects recruited from an urban drug treatment program were randomly assigned to a double-blind, placebo-controlled, eight-week trial of desipramine, carbamazepine, or placebo. Patient ratings, urine drug screens, and blood samples were obtained weekly. Using survival analysis, the three groups did not differ in time to drop out of treatment. While subjects improved over time on all self-ratings related to cocaine use, mood, and craving, only two items related to mood were significantly different over time as a function of treatment group. Subjects in the two treated groups reported significantly more improvement on self-ratings of depression and irritability. No treatment differences were noted for sustained abstinence or for proportion of positive urine drug screens. Desipramine subjects who attained a minimum blood level were retained in treatment significantly longer than placebo or other non-compliant treatment groups. This finding supports previous reports of a possible role for desipramine in cocaine abuse treatment.