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



This study will investigate the effects of intranasal administration of oxytocin, a social neuropeptide, on reducing cocaine use, enhancing therapeutic engagement, and susceptibility to stress-induced relapse in Veterans with cocaine use disorder 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 cocaine use disorder (CUD) enrolled in a opioid replacement therapy (ORT) program for cooccurring opioid use disorder (OUD) at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC). The investigators' primary outcome is Aim 1) reduction in cocaine use, as measured by quantitative urine levels of cocaine metabolite. 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 CUD recovery likely to respond to oxytocin administration


Cocaine Use & Co-occuring Opioid Use Disorders oxytocin substance-related disorders Opioid Replacement Therapy Psychophysiology Stress Biomarkers Cocaine 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 at the SFVAMC 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 cocaine in the past month

You CAN'T join if...

  1. DSM-V criteria for previous or current schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder; severe neuropsychological disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder,or current moderate-severe alcohol use 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 potassium sorbate
  5. Using hormone supplementation
  6. Using 5HT1a agonist/antagonist
  7. Positive urine pregnancy test or women of childbearing age not practicing effective means of non-hormonal birth control
  8. Chronic nasal obstruction, discharge, or bleeding


  • San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94121 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Christopher Stauffer
    Chris Stauffer received his MD from Oregon Health & Science University in 2010 and completed his Adult Psychiatry Residency at UCSF in 2014.


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