Gender differences in cue exposure reactivity and 9-month outcome

Robert C. Sterling, Jessica Dean, Stephen P. Weinstein, Jennifer Murphy, Edward Gottheil

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27 Citations (SciVal)


Gender differences have been shown to be related to the course of cocaine dependence and treatment. While previous research has shown cue exposure procedures to be somewhat effective at reducing reactivity of substance dependent individuals to drug related stimuli, the few studies that have examined gender differences in craving and cue-reactivity have yielded equivocal results. We have recently demonstrated that an active cue-exposure procedure that featured cocaine-dependent individuals receiving immediate feedback about their level of physiological arousal following videotaped exposure to cocaine-related stimuli was capable of positively influencing in-treatment (helplessness, abstinence efficacy) as well as 9-month followup outcome (i.e., urinalysis) indices (Sterling, R., Gottheil, E., Murphy, J., & Weinstein, S. (2001). Cue exposure and abstinence efficacy. College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Phoenix, AZ, June 17, 2001). The purpose of the present study was to determine whether differential in-treatment or 9-month followup outcomes were obtained for male and female study participants. Subjects in this study were 81 individuals (47 male/34 female) who met DSM-IV criteria for cocaine dependence and who had consented to be randomly assigned to either the active cue-exposure or control conditions. Participants were compared along a myriad of pre-treatment, in-treatment, and 9-month followup measures. Other than males reporting more recent employment, there was no obvious systematic pattern of differences on pre-treatment indices. No gender differences in treatment retention were observed. With respect to 9-month followup, no gender differences on measures of addiction severity, psychological functioning, or urinalyses were noted. However males were more "cue-reactive" and more successful at establishing control over their reactivity to the cocaine stimuli. Additional research is needed to determine whether these differences in reactivity can be more clearly defined and utilized positively in a treatment setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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