Psychotherapy for Cocaine Dependence

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Julie Whelan
  1. Charles P. O'Brien,
  2. A. Thomas McLellan,
  3. Arthur Alterman and
  4. Anna Rose Childress

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514245.ch12

Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions

Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions

How to Cite

O'Brien, C. P., McLellan, A. T., Alterman, A. and Childress, A. R. (2007) Psychotherapy for Cocaine Dependence, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions (eds G. R. Bock and J. Whelan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514245.ch12

Author Information

  1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania/Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3900 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104/6178, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471931799

Online ISBN: 9780470514245



  • psychotherapy;
  • cocaine dependence;
  • conditioned aspects;
  • relapse prevention;
  • CUE exposure


Dependence on cocaine is a new disorder for contemporary US clinicians. Until the 1980s sufficient quantities of the drug were not available to produce a true dependence. Thus far the only models for pharmacological intervention involve an interaction between medication and psychotherapy; that is, medication may be able to facilitate a drug-free interval during which time the patient can be engaged in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy programmes for cocaine dependence have generally been modelled on group-oriented treatments of the type used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Controlled studies of therapy programmes for cocaine dependence are currently being conducted and one prospective random-assignment study comparing day hospital and in-patient rehabilitation shows generally good results. Behavioural treatments aimed at reducing or extinguishing conditioned responses in cocaine addicts have also shown efficacy in a controlled study. More general relapse prevention procedures including rehearsal and role-playing are also used in the treatment of cocaine dependence. Combinations of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have so far shown the most promise in the treatment of this disorder.