Systematic Review: Is There a Medicinal Use of Cocaine in Psychiatry?

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Publication Title

Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry



Cocaine has been a heavily abused street drug over the last several decades. It is well-documented in the nineteenth and early twentieth century that the drug was used as a form of treatment for various psychiatric disorders due to its medicinal properties. More recently, the “psychedelic renaissance” has opened doors for many researchers and clinicians to explore the medical use of drugs that were previously thought to possess little to no therapeutic properties.

Purpose of review

This literature review was performed using PubMed and Google searches to explore the history and current medical use of cocaine. Although there has been some research some decades ago on cocaine’s effects on depression and anxiety, it has largely been ignored more recently as more attention has been diverted to compounds such as 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) and psilocybin.

Recent findings

Based on the literature, cocaine has been shown to reduce severity of depression and anxiety. However, the evidence is limited to scant experimentation conducted on patients several decades ago that reported a side effect profile similar to conventionally prescribed amphetamines. Further investigation, along with the possibility of decriminalization, is needed to evaluate risks and benefits of using cocaine to treat psychiatric disorders.



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cocaine, depression, anxiety, psychedelic, decriminalization