Pharmacologic Treatments for Heroin and Cocaine Dependence


Address correspondence to Dr. Kleber, Division on Substance Abuse, Columbia University, NYSPI - Unit 66, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032. E-mail:


Given the difficulty of achieving sustained recovery, pharmacotherapy of opioid and cocaine addiction is more effective when combined with behavioral and psychosocial approaches. Effective pharmacotherapies for opioid dependence and withdrawal include methadone, L-alpha acetylmethadol (LAAM), naltrexone, buprenorphine, and clonidine. Treatment of cocaine addiction includes anti-craving agents, dopamine agonists or blocking agents, antidepressants, and treatment of co-morbid psychiatric disorders, but all with mixed results. In this paper, we discuss the use of medication in the context of general principles of opioid and cocaine addiction treatment. Both established medications and promising directions in pharmacotherapy will be addressed.