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Current drug abuse reviews

Modafinil: a useful medication for cocaine addiction? Review of the evidence from neuropharmacological, experimental and clinical studies.


PMID 19630720

Abstract

Cocaine addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder associated with severe medical and psychosocial complications. However, there are no approved medications for cocaine dependent individuals. Modafinil, a medication that differs chemically and pharmacologically from other central nervous system stimulants, has been suggested to be potentially useful for this complex disorder. The present paper aims to critically review the published evidence from laboratory and clinical studies on modafinil for cocaine addiction, including discussion of its pharmacological characteristics and how it may relate with cocaine neurobiology. Whilst its exact mechanism of action remains to be elucidated, different neurotransmitter systems have been implicated, including modulation on dopamine, glutamate/GABA, noradrenaline and the hypocretin/orexin system, but it is possible that modafinil acts by a synergistic combination of mechanisms. With a favourable pharmacokinetic profile, it appears to have a low abuse potential. Laboratory and clinical studies provide consistent, albeit preliminary, evidence of the potential usefulness of modafinil for cocaine dependent patients. Not only there is no evidence of pharmacokinetic interactions between modafinil and cocaine, but in addition cocaine induced euphoria and cardiovascular effects appear to be attenuated by modafinil. Furthermore, modafinil has been shown to decrease cocaine self-administration. In addition, modafinil treated patient are more likely to achieve protracted abstinence than placebo treated patients. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.