, Volume 216, Issue 3, pp 379-387
Date: 05 Mar 2011

Aripiprazole maintenance increases smoked cocaine self-administration in humans

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Partial dopamine receptor agonists have been proposed as candidate pharmacotherapies for cocaine dependence.


This 42-day, within-subject, human laboratory study assessed how maintenance on aripiprazole, a partial D2 receptor agonist, influenced smoked cocaine self-administration, cardiovascular measures, subjective effects, and cocaine craving in nontreatment-seeking, cocaine-dependent volunteers.


In order to achieve steady-state concentrations, participants (n = 8 men) were administered placebo and aripiprazole (15 mg/day) capsules in counter-balanced order for 21 days. A smoked cocaine dose–response curve (0, 12, 25, 50 mg) was determined twice under placebo and aripiprazole maintenance. Sessions comprised a “sample” trial, when participants smoked the cocaine dose available that session, and five choice trials, when they responded on a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement to receive the cocaine dose or receive $5.00.


Cocaine’s reinforcing, subjective, and cardiovascular effects were dose-dependent. Aripiprazole significantly increased cocaine (12, 25 mg) self-administration. Following a single administration of cocaine (25 mg), aripiprazole decreased ratings of how much participants would pay for that dose. Following repeated cocaine (50 mg) self-administration, aripiprazole decreased ratings of cocaine quality, craving, and good drug effect as compared to placebo.


These data suggest that aripiprazole may have increased self-administration to compensate for a blunted subjective cocaine effect. Overall, the findings do not suggest aripiprazole would be useful for treating cocaine dependence.