The Effectiveness of Intranasal Oxytocin on Addiction Severity Index and Anhedonia Symptoms in an Alcoholic Case with Oropharyngeal Cancer, a Protocol for a Single-case Experimental Design Pilot Study

Document Type: Case Report


1 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Science and Culture, Tehran, Iran.

2 Cancer Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

3 Department of Psychosomatic, Taleghani Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

4 Department of Counselling, Faculty of Psychology, Arak Branch, Islamic Azad University, Arak, Iran.

5 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Tonekabon Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon, Iran.

6 Bijan Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Tehran, Iran.

7 Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

8 Department of Psychology, Tehran Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.


One of the goals of all pharmacological interventions aimed to increase the survival rate
of patients with alcohol-dependent oropharyngeal cancers is to decrease alcohol use. Oxytocin
is an alternative therapy for craving and alcohol management. However, the effectiveness of
oxytocin on the severity of alcohol dependence has not been evaluated. In an ABABC study with
a 6-month follow-up, during February 2015 to June 2016, a 67-year-old man with oropharyngeal
squamous cell carcinoma with comorbidity of alcohol dependence syndrome and anhedonia was
selected by Respondent-Driven sampling (RDS). The patient was treated with intranasal oxytocin
in two six-week stages (B
1 and B2) and received placebo only in the other two stages (A1 and
2), and the follow-up results were evaluated at stage C. The data were analyzed by Generalized
Estimation Equation (GEE) and Repeated Measures Correlation (rmcorr). Primary outcomes
showed that addiction severity Index (ASI) was signifcantly reduced in fve domains of medical
status, occupational status, alcohol consumption, family status, and mental status (all
p’s < 0.05).
There was no signifcant effect of treatment on legal status (all
p’s > 0.05). Also, social (p <
0.05) and physical (
p < 0.01) anhedonia syndrome decreased in the treatment stages. However,
these changes did not persist until the 6-month follow-up (all
p’s > 0.05). Secondary outcomes
showed that there was a signifcant direct relationship between the severity of addiction and
anhedonia (r
mcorr = 0.01). The fndings of this study showed that the reduction of oxytocin-induced
neurotoxic symptoms led to a decrease in the severity of addiction and an improvement in the
anhedonia syndrome.