Opiate use is associated with deficits in decision-making. However, the impact of abstinence and co-morbid factors, like head injury and polysubstance abuse, on this ability, is currently unclear. This meta-analysis aimed to assess 1) the magnitude of decision-making deficits in opiate users; 2) whether co-morbid factors moderate the severity of these deficits; 3) whether ex-opiate users demonstrate smaller decision-making deficits than current users; and 4) whether the length of abstinence is related to the magnitude of decision-making deficits. We analysed 22 studies that compared the performance of current and ex-opiate users to healthy controls on decision-making measures such as the Iowa Gambling Task. Current users demonstrated a moderately strong impairment in decision-making relative to controls, which was not significantly moderated by co-morbid factors. The magnitude of the impairment did not significantly differ between studies assessing current or ex-users, and this impairment was not related to length of abstinence. Thus, it appears that opiate users have relatively severe decision-making deficits that persist at least 1.5 years after cessation of use.
School of Psychology
Open Access Journal Article
Biernacki, K., McLennan, S., Terrett, G. & Rendell, P. (2016). Decision-making ability in current and past users of opiates: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.09.011