Buspirone Reduces Sexual Risk-Taking Intent but Not Cocaine Self-Administration

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21 Scopus citations


Impulsive sexual decision-making may underlie sexual risk-taking behavior that contributes to the disproportionately high prevalence of HIV infection among cocaine users. Delay-discounting procedures measure impulsive decision-making and may provide insight into the underlying mechanisms of sexual risk-taking behavior. The anxiolytic drug buspirone reduces delay discounting in rats and blunts the reinforcing effects of cocaine in some preclinical studies suggesting that it might have utility in the treatment of cocaine-use disorders. This study determined whether buspirone mitigates impulsive risky sexual decision-making in cocaine users on a sexual delay-discounting procedure. The effects of buspirone maintenance on the abuse-related and physiological effects of cocaine were also tested. Nine (N ± 9) current cocaine users completed a repeated-measures, inpatient protocol in which sexual delay discounting was assessed after 3 days of maintenance on placebo and buspirone (30 mg/day) in counterbalanced order. The reinforcing, subjectrated, and physiological effects of placebo and intranasal cocaine (15 and 45 mg) were also assessed during buspirone and placebo maintenance. Buspirone increased the likelihood of condom use for hypothetical sexual partners that were categorized as most likely to have a sexually transmitted infection and least sexually desirable. Cocaine functioned as a reinforcer and increased positive subjective effects ratings, but buspirone maintenance did not impact these effects of cocaine. Buspirone was also safe and tolerable when combined with cocaine and may have blunted some its cardiovascular effects. The results from the sexual delaydiscounting procedure indicate that buspirone may reduce preference for riskier sex in cocaine users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-173
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge research support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R21 DA034095, T32 DA035200, and K02 DA031766) and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (TL1 TR000115 and UL1 TR000117) of the National Institutes of Health. These funding agencies had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, or preparation and submission of the manuscript. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the official views of the National Institutes of Health. William W. Stoops, Craig R. Rush, and Joshua A. Lile designed the study. B. Levi Bolin coordinated all aspects of data collection, management, and statistical analysis; undertook graphical representation of the data; performed and managed the primary literature search; and composed the initial draft of the manuscript. Katherine R. Marks and Joshua S. Beckmann assisted with data analysis and manuscript preparation. The authors would also like to thank the staff at the University of Kentucky Laboratory of Human Behavioral Pharmacology for their expert medical and technical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Buspirone
  • Cocaine
  • Delay discounting
  • HIV risk
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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