for people ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion
Christopher Stauffer, MD



This study will investigate the effects of intranasal administration of oxytocin, a social neuropeptide, on reducing stimulant use, enhancing therapeutic engagement, and susceptibility to stress-induced relapse in Veterans with stimulant use disorders and enrolled in opioid replacement therapy (ORT) program for co-occurring opioid use disorder (OUD).

Official Title

6-week Trial of Oxytocin for Co-occurring Cocaine and Opioid Use Disorders


High rates of substance use disorders (SUDs) in Veterans compared to the general population are heavily influenced by psychosocial factors - such as difficulty reintegrating into civilian life due to avoidance of vital support systems - leading to disproportionately elevated unmet addiction treatment needs. Although the gold standard for treatment for most SUDs involves pharmacological interventions, there are currently no effective pharmacological interventions approved by the Federal Drug Administration for stimulant users, who have the most difficulty adhering to treatment programs and the most susceptibility to stress-induced relapse of any SUD. Administering oxytocin, a mammalian neuropeptide, intranasally to healthy controls facilitates the stress-buffering properties of social support. Oxytocin may also have an independent role in mitigating the symptoms of SUDs. For example, in animal models of addiction, oxytocin administration directly reduces tolerance, withdrawal effects, self-administration, and stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking for a range of addictive substances. A more integrated understanding of oxytocin's distinct effects on the behavior and psychology of 1) addiction, 2) sociality, and 3) stress reactivity could be the key to defining oxytocin's role in SUD treatment. This study proposes to translate promising preclinical and early proof-of-concept clinical results related to the anti-addiction, pro-social, and stress-tempering properties of oxytocin administration in Veterans with moderate-severe stimulant use disorders enrolled in a opioid replacement therapy (ORT) program for co-occurring opioid use disorder (OUD) at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC). The investigators' primary outcome is Aim 1) reduction in stimulant use, as measured by quantitative urine levels of cocaine and amphetamine metabolites. Secondarily, the investigators will focus on Aim 2) improving psychosocial treatment engagement (social support) and Aim 3) mitigating social stress-related relapse, targeting two important barriers to stimulant use disorder recovery likely to respond to oxytocin administration.


Stimulant Use & Co-occuring Opioid Use Disorders oxytocin substance-related disorders Opioid Replacement Therapy Psychophysiology Stress Biomarkers Central Nervous System Stimulants Intranasal oxytocin


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18 years and up

  1. At least 18 years old
  2. Enrolled as a patient who at the SFVAMC Opioid Treatment Program or the Oakland Behavioral Health Clinic Opioid Treatment Program
  3. Stable dose of opioid replacement therapy for at least 2 consecutive weeks
  4. Veteran
  5. One documented urine toxicology screen positive for stimulants in the past 12 months.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Severe neuropsychological disorder
  2. Suicidal or homicidal ideation within the past 90 days or a suicide attempt in the past 6 months
  3. Hemodialysis, unless participant can produce urine samples weekly
  4. Sensitivity to methylparaben or propylparaben
  5. Positive urine pregnancy test or women of childbearing age not practicing effective means of non-hormonal birth control
  6. Chronic nasal obstruction, discharge, or bleeding


  • San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94121 United States
  • VA Northern California Health Care System, Mather, CA completed
    Sacramento California 95655 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Christopher Stauffer, MD
    Chris Stauffer received his MD from Oregon Health & Science University in 2010 and completed his Adult Psychiatry Residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 2014. He also completed a post-graduate Psychiatry Research Fellowship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
VA Office of Research and Development
more information about this study: 6-week trial of oxytocin for co-occurring cocaine and opioid use disorders
Phase 2
Study Type
Last Updated