Atomoxetine in abstinent cocaine users: Cognitive, subjective and cardiovascular effects

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2017 Aug;159:55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2017.07.002. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


No pharmacotherapies are approved for the treatment of cocaine use disorders (CUD). Behavioral treatments for CUD are efficacious for some individuals, but recovery rates from CUD remain low. Cognitive impairments in CUD have been linked with poorer clinical outcomes. Cognitive enhancing pharmacotherapies have been proposed as promising treatments for CUD. Atomoxetine, a norepinephrine transporter inhibitor, shows potential as a treatment for CUD based on its efficacy as a cognitive enhancer in other clinical populations and impact on addictive processes in preclinical and human laboratory studies. In this randomized, double-blind, crossover study, abstinent individuals with CUD (N=39) received placebo, 40 and 80mg atomoxetine, over three sessions. Measures of attention, response inhibition and working memory; subjective medication effects and mood; and cardiovascular effects were collected. Analyses assessed acute, dose-dependent effects of atomoxetine. In addition, preliminary analyses investigating the modulation of atomoxetine dose effects by sex were performed. Atomoxetine increased heart rate and blood pressure, was rated as having positive and negative subjective drug effects, and had only modest effects on mood and cognitive enhancement.

Keywords: Addiction; Atomoxetine; Cocaine; Cognition; Norepinephrine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride / pharmacology*
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride