Glutamatergic Modulation of Cocaine-related Deficits


New York State Psychiatric Institute

Status and phase

Phase 2


Cocaine Dependence


Drug: Ketamine 0.41 mg/kg
Drug: Ketamine 0.71 mg/kg
Drug: Lorazepam 2 mg

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Cocaine dependence involves problematic neuroadaptations, such as heightened reactivity to cocaine cues, that may be responsive to pharmacological modulation of glutamatergic circuits. Despite promising preclinical findings with n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) modulators, studies with human subjects have been unsuccessful to date. The purpose of this investigation is to examine the effects of the NMDAr antagonist ketamine, recently found to have potent therapeutic effects in humans, on cue-induced craving and impaired motivation for quitting cocaine in cocaine dependent participants, 24-hours post-infusion.

Full description

In this study, volunteers will undergo a 9 day inpatient trial during which they will receive three counter-balanced infusions (two doses of ketamine and a dose of lorazepam) on three separate days in a within-subject, double-blind, controlled design. Of the various glutamate antagonists available for human use, ketamine will be utilized because its safety profile, pharmacokinetics, and range of tolerable sub-anesthetic dosings have been very well studied. Also, ketamine has shown promise in managing opiate and alcohol use disorders in certain studies, and may therefore be the most likely glutamate antagonist to dampen cue reactivity and increase motivation in cocaine users. If ketamine significantly improves these deficits, this would suggest that the drug should be investigated further for potential utility as a treatment for cocaine dependence.


8 patients




21 to 52 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion Criteria

  1. Active free-base cocaine dependence (at least 4 days of use over the past month, with at least 1 use per week); if the participant uses through another route (IN, IV), then the FB route is dominant (> 80% of occasions).
  2. Physically healthy
  3. No adverse reactions to study medications
  4. 21-52 years of age
  5. Normal body weight
  6. Responsive to drug cues
  7. Capacity to consent

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Seeking treatment or abstinence
  2. DSM IV criteria for substance dependence (other than methamphetamine, cocaine, cannabis, or nicotine), or DSM IV criteria for abuse of ketamine or lorazepam
  3. DSM-IV criteria for other Axis I psychiatric illness that may make participation hazardous such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychosis NOS, MDD, psychosis secondary to substances, or bipolar disorder
  4. Delirium, Dementia, Amnesia, Cognitive Disorders, or dissociative disorders
  5. Current suicide risk or a history of suicide attempt within the past 2 years
  6. Current use of prescribed psychotropic medication
  7. Pregnancy, nursing, or had a baby within the past 6 mo.
  8. Heart disease as indicated by history, abnormal ECG, previous cardiac surgery.
  9. Unstable physical disorders which might make participation hazardous such as end-stage AIDS, hypertension (>140/90), anemia, active hepatitis or other liver disease, or diabetes
  10. "Bad" reaction/experience with prior exposure to ketamine or lorazepam
  11. History of significant violence
  12. First degree relative with a psychotic disorder

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Crossover Assignment


Triple Blind

8 participants in 3 patient groups

Experimental group
Ketamine 0.41 mg/kg infused over 52 min (K1)
Drug: Ketamine 0.41 mg/kg
Experimental group
Ketamine 0.71 mg/kg infused over 52 min (K2)
Drug: Ketamine 0.71 mg/kg
Experimental group
Lorazepam 2 mg infused over 52 minutes (LZP)
Drug: Lorazepam 2 mg

Trial contacts and locations



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