This study was designed to explore the relationship between craving and cocaine-seeking behavior with the use of both subjective and behavioral measures. Five males and five females who have used crack at least two times a week for 6 months, and who reported using 0.5 g of crack within 24 h on at least one occasion, participated in an inpatient study. Subjects underwent a total of four experimental sessions, during which they were exposed to either neutral (Neutral Stimuli Condition) or cocaine-related (Cocaine Stimuli Condition) external and internal stimuli. Subjects were exposed to each stimuli condition twice, on separate days, in randomized order. External stimuli comprised neutral or cocaine-related videotapes and paraphernalia, and the internal stimulus was either a 5-mg ('placebo') or 0.4 mg/kg delivery of cocaine. At baseline and after each stimulus exposure, subjects completed a composite cocaine craving questionnaire. Subjects next worked on concurrently-available fixed-ratio tasks either for tokens that could be exchanged for money ($2) or for tokens that were exchangeable for deliveries of cocaine (0.4 mg/kg). The results show that subjects reported significantly greater cocaine craving after exposure to cocaine-related vs. neutral stimuli, indicating that craving for cocaine can be successfully modeled in a laboratory setting. However, this change in subjective response did not predict drug-seeking behavior. The number of cocaine tokens earned following exposure to the cocaine-related vs neutral stimuli was similar. These results suggest that in a laboratory setting, craving may be unrelated to cocaine-seeking behavior in non-treatment-seeking cocaine users.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants R01 DA05844 and T32 DA07097, and a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (M01 RR00400). We would like to thank Aimee George and Micah Hammer for technical assistance, Fred Crea and Peter Erhard for help in producing the videotapes, and the General Clinical Research Center nursing staff.
- Subjective effects