Psychostimulant abuse: The case for combined behavioral and pharmacological treatments

Maxine L. Stitzer, Sharon L. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Behavioral and pharmacological therapies have been used alone and in combination for the treatment of substance abuse; however, to date, no single treatment approach for psychostimulant abuse has demonstrated widespread efficacy. This paper describes the various functions that are served by both behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapies and their respective mechanisms of action. It is argued that combined treatments can be expected to produce additive effects because the two approaches operate through different and potentially complementary mechanisms. Illustrations of these underlying principles and experimental support for the use of combined treatments are drawn from smoking cessation research, which has broadly applied combined behavioral and pharmacological therapies for treating abuse of nicotine, a mild stimulant. In addition, the results of recent studies that have evaluated the efficacy of behavioral techniques and/or potential pharmacotherapies for treating cocaine abuse are reviewed. Finally, methodological strategies are recommended for future evaluations of combined therapy approaches to conclusively evaluate separate and combined efficacy of treatments for psychostimulant abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this paper was supported by USPHS research grants P50 DA09258, P50 DA05273, RO1 DA05196, and RO1 DA03893 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Behavioral treatment
  • Cocaine
  • Combined treatment
  • Community reinforcement
  • Drug abuse
  • Medications development
  • Nicotine
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Relapse prevention
  • Smoking cessation
  • Stimulants
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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