Aripiprazole as a potential pharmacotherapy for stimulant dependence: Human laboratory studies with d-amphetamine

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Amphetamine and cocaine dependence present significant public health concerns, yet no broadly effective pharmacotherapy for stimulant dependence has been developed. Two human laboratory studies are reviewed that tested the ability of aripiprazole, a novel antipsychotic with partial agonist activity at D2 dopamine receptors, to alter the behavioral effects of stimulants using d-amphetamine as a model agent. In each of these experiments, volunteers learned to discriminate 15 mg d-amphetamine (i.e., ≥80% drug-appropriate responding over 4 consecutive sessions). The effects of a range of doses of d-amphetamine (0, 2.5, 5, 10, and 15 mg) were then tested alone and following pretreatment with aripiprazole (20 mg in Experiment 1; 10 mg in Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, aripiprazole (20 mg) attenuated the discriminative stimulus and many of the subject-rated effects of amphetamine. Aripiprazole alone produced performance decrements. To determine whether a lower dose of aripiprazole would also attenuate the behavioral effects of d-amphetamine without impairing performance, Experiment 2 was conducted. Aripiprazole (10 mg) failed to alter the discriminative-stimulus effects but attenuated some of the subject-rated effects of d-amphetamine. This dose of aripiprazole did not impair performance. The results of these experiments indicate that aripiprazole may have clinical utility in treating stimulant dependence. Future human laboratory research should better model the clinical use of aripiprazole by examining the effects of chronic aripiprazole combined with either methamphetamine or cocaine in dependent individuals. A large-scale clinical trial is also needed to evaluate the efficacy of aripiprazole for the treatment of stimulant dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Amphetamine
  • Aripiprazole
  • Cocaine
  • Human
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Stimulant dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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