Peter Blanken graduated as a social psychologist (MSc) and got his PhD at the medical faculty of the University of Amsterdam. He started his research at the Addiction Research Institute (IVO) in Rotterdam in 1987, doing multi-method (qualitative, ethnographic, and quantitative) field research in the natural context of drug users’ lives – mostly at drug dealing addresses and open drug scenes – on drug use patterns and their consequences.
In 1999 he moved to the University Medical Centre Utrecht (NL) and became a member of the research team of the Central Committee on the Treatment of Heroin Addicts (CCBH). The CCBH designed, conducted and reported the two Dutch ‘heroin trials’ on the efficacy of co-prescribed inhalable and injectable heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) for chronic, treatment-refractory heroin-dependent patients (who had not responded favourably to methadone maintenance treatment). Peter Blanken (co-)authored several peer-reviewed papers on the efficacy and long-term outcome of HAT. In addition, still in the context of the CCBH, he conducted a randomized controlled study on the efficacy of cocaine contingency management aimed at cocaine use in patients participating in heroin-assisted treatment, with ongoing regular (crack) cocaine use.
Since 2002 he is working as senior researcher at the Parnassia Addiction Research Centre of Brijder Addiction Treatment (PARC; The Hague, NL), where – among other studies – he is actively involved as a senior researcher in the multi¬disciplinary research projects “Prevalence, treatment needs and new pharmaco¬therapeutic treatment options for crack-cocaine dependent people in the Netherlands” and “Money for Medication (M4M): A randomized controlled study on the effectiveness of financial incentives to improve medication adherence in patients with a psychotic disorder and comorbid substance abuse”.
Currently he is working on the development of a project aimed at an evaluation of the treatment process offered by Brijder, thereby actively involving (recovering) drug users in the research team, and on the development of the Dutch “Multidisciplinary Guideline for treatment of patients with substance use disorder: Cannabis, cocaine, (meth)amphetamines, ecstasy, GHB, and benzodiazepines”. Furthermore, he is participating in a recently granted 4-year cohort study “Youth in transition: Addiction trajectories and profiles. A longitudinal study in a population cohort and a youth addiction treatment cohort”. Finally, he is preparing a replication study to investigate the efficacy of sustained-release dexamphetamine in the treatment of patients with (crack-)cocaine use disorder.
Agonist medications for the treatment of stimulant use disorder: Many people who use psychoactive substances do so without loosing control over their drug use. For those who do loose control and who develop what is nowadays called a ‘substance use disorder’ there are numerous treatment agencies that assist patients is pursuing diverse treatment goals. Pharmacotherapy with agonist medications (i.e., substitution treatment) is a proven effective treatment for opioid and nicotine/tobacco dependence. There is growing evidence that agonist pharmacotherapy for stimulant use disorder (i.e., cocaine, (meth)amphetamine) might be effective as well.