From Yale to the lab in St. Petersburg
Evgeny Krupitsky, M.D., Ph.D.
Leningrad Regional Center for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Therapy
In the second quarter of 1997, MAPS donated $8,000 to this study
investigating the effectiveness of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy in the
treatment of people with heroin dependency.
I completed my one year research project at Yale in March and started to
work in my laboratory in St. Petersburg, Russia in April of this year.
Before I left Yale, I was only able to get Institutional Review Board
(IRB) approval for my protocol of the s tudy of ketamine-nimodipine
interaction in alcoholic patients and to run the first patient in that
study. I hope very much that Dr. Krystal's research team will continue the
study. Also, a grant application submitted by Dr. Krystal and myself to
the Civilian R esearch and Development Foundation is now being reviewed by
the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). If we are
receive the grant we will conduct that study as a collaborative re-search
project in parallel both in St. Petersburg and at Yale.
Upon my return to St. Petersburg I found the situation in my lab much
worse then it was a year ago; the staff is paid very poorly and with
delay, the budget is small, and it has been necessary to do a small repair
in my office. The situation has gotten mu ch worse on the whole in Russia
within the last year, particularly after the presidential election.
Nevertheless, with support from MAPS, we are actively conducting the study
of the clinical efficacy and underlying psychological mechanisms of
ketamine-assisted psychotherapy of people with heroin dependency. MAPS
arranged for the protocol to be reviewed and critiqued by several experts
in drug abuse treatment research so that the results of the study will be
taken seriously in the United States. The staff of my laboratory began
treating patients in the fall of 1996 when I was at Yale. At the present
we h ave treated 15 patients (eight in the experimental group and seven in
the control group). It is interesting to note that a very low
non-hallucinogenic injected dose of ketamine given to the patients in the
control group appeared to be quite effective for guided imagery and
visual-ization during the psychotherapy. We hope to be able to inform MAPS
Bulletin readers about the preliminary results of the first year of this
three-year study in the fall of 1997.
Also, we are doing the statistical analysis of data collected in the
previous MAPS-supported study of underlying psychological mechanisms of
ketamine-assisted psychotherapy of alcoholic patients, which was carried
out in 1995. This analysis will examine w hether there are any
correlations between treatment outcome and individual psychological traits
and their changes caused by ketamine therapy. We hope this analysis will
help us to define some individual indications for ketamine therapy as well
as to better understand the underlying psychological mechanisms of
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to MAPS for the support of
our ketamine research which otherwise would not be possible. I am also
grateful for the computer which MAPS presented to me when I was in the
United States. That computer allowed me to work at home at nights and
during the weekends, and also to access the Internet at home, which made
my one year at Yale much more productive.