Psychosocial functioning and cocaine use during treatment: Strength of relationship depends on type of urine-testing method

Udi E. Ghitza, David H. Epstein, Kenzie L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Although improvement in psychosocial functioning is a common goal in substance-abuse treatment, the primary outcome measure in most cocaine trials is urinalysis-verified cocaine use. However, the relationship between cocaine use and psychosocial outcomes is not well documented. To investigate this relationship and identify the optimal urine-screen method, we retrospectively analyzed data from two 25-week randomized controlled trials of abstinence reinforcement (AR) in 368 cocaine/heroin users maintained on methadone. Cocaine use was measured thrice weekly by qualitative urinalysis, benzoylecgonine concentration (BE), and an estimate of New Uses of cocaine by application of an algorithm to BE. Social adjustment (SAS-SR), current diagnosis of cocaine dependence (DSM-IV criteria), and depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) were determined at study exit. Cocaine use was significantly lower in AR groups than in controls. Across groups, in-treatment cocaine use was significantly associated with worse social adjustment, current cocaine dependence, and depression at exit. Significant differences were detected more frequently with New Uses than qualitative urinalysis or BE. Nevertheless, the amount of variance accounted for by the urine screens was typically <15%. Cocaine use during treatment, especially when measured with New Uses criteria, can predict psychosocial functioning, but cannot substitute for direct measures of psychosocial functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Abstinence reinforcement
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Psychosocial function
  • Substance dependence
  • Treatment
  • Urinalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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