How Do Cocaine and Opioids Affect the Brain?

Research Center:  University of Kentucky
Location: Lexington, KY 40507, United States
Lead Researchers: Dr. Joshua Lile and Dr. Michael Wesley
IRB Committee: This study has been reviewed and approved by the University of Kentucky Institutional Review Board

About the Study

Interested in how the brain works? The University of Kentucky is conducting two research studies to learn about brain activity during decision-making in adults with histories of cocaine or opioid use. The knowledge gained from these studies will contribute to a better understanding of the effects of cocaine and opioid use.

Why Participate? 

  • You will be contributing valuable information that may help researchers understand the effects of using substances.
  • You will be compensated for participating in this study. 
  • You may be reimbursed for travel related to your participation in this study.

Your Rights

  • If you decide to participate in the study and later feel that you no longer wish to be part of it, you can withdraw at any time.
  • Your records relating to this study and any other information received will be kept strictly confidential, except as required by law.
  • Qualified health professionals will monitor your health as it relates to the study.

Who Can Participate?

  • Men and women who currently use cocaine or opioids (e.g., painkillers) for non-medical reasons
  • Must be willing to undergo MRI scans
  • Are healthy and have no major disease processes or major psychiatric disorders
  • Are not currently seeking or undergoing treatment for any substance use
  • Cocaine study: Must be aged 18-55 years old 
    • Willing to participate as an inpatient (i.e., reside) at the research center for approximately 3.5 weeks
  • Opioid study: Must be aged 18-50 years old 
    • Get sick (go into withdrawal) when you stop using opioids
    • Willing to participate as an inpatient (i.e., reside) at the research center for approximately 2 weeks

Key Study Details 

The study team can explain the research study in its entirety but some key details are:

  • Prior to enrollment into a study, you will complete paid outpatient screening visits at the research site.
  • If eligible, you will then participate as an inpatient (i.e., reside) on a Research Only Unit at UK Hospital. 
  • You will have your own room in the Research Unit with all meals and laundry service provided.
  • If you smoke cigarettes, you will be allowed to smoke at regularly scheduled intervals accompanied by study staff. 
  • When not participating in experimental sessions, you will be provided with recreational activities (e.g., TV, movies, video games, telephone and internet access, reading material, music, arts and crafts, or board games).
  • You should understand that during your stay on the Research Unit, you will not be allowed to leave the Unit unsupervised, nor will you be allowed to have visitors. You will be allowed to use your cell phone when not participating in experimental sessions. 
  • FDA-approved medications will be administered in these studies.
  • Cocaine Study: The inpatient portion of this study will last approximately 3.5 weeks and consist of 10 experimental sessions total (7 inside the MRI scanner).
  • Opioid Study: The inpatient portion of this study will last approximately 2 weeks and consist of 2 MRI scanner sessions.
    • You will be maintained on opioids to help prevent withdrawal during your inpatient admission. 

Your personal information will be kept confidential. Neither your name nor description will be used in any reports or publications about these studies. 

About the Research Center:

University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky has a broad range of resources centered on a single campus in the heart of the Bluegrass. Their wide array of programs allows them to excel in multidisciplinary studies and foster an environment of cooperative engagement across all colleges, programs, and research endeavors. Because of the lives they touch and teach, they remain anchored in their mission– to educate, innovate, heal, and serve.

Please note:

Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the research facility follows all current University guidelines regarding the safety of participants and study staff.

What’s Next?

  1. Click the link to enter your contact details and take the study questionnaire.
  2. If eligible, a member of the research team will contact you to discuss the study and answer any questions you may have.
Click Here to Check Your Eligibility for This Study