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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

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Psychology Commons