Background and aims: Individuals with heroin addiction are prone to dysfunctional decision-making. They frequently choose the short-term rewarding option of drug intake despite experiencing long-term negative consequences. Opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) is the most common treatment of heroin addiction.
Methods: In this study, 38 individuals in an early stage of abstinence from heroin addiction (ESA-HA individuals) at the end of inpatient detoxification treatment and 41 individuals in long-term OMT were examined. Decision-making was assessed by (I) a modified version of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) with drug-related stimuli focusing on decision-making under ambiguity and (II) the Game of Dice Task (GDT) assessing decision-making under objective risk.
Results: OMT-individuals showed significantly better performance in the IGT than the ESA-HA-individuals. They also showed significantly less craving under exposure of drug-related pictures. In the GDT, OMT-individuals showed significantly less risky decision-making than ESA-HA-individuals.
Conclusion: The results suggest that patients receiving OMT show better functional decision-making and lower craving reactions. It could be assumed that the effectiveness of OMT in preventing relapse is linked to better decision-making and lower craving among these patients.
Keywords: Decision making; Game of dice task; Iowa gambling task; Methadone maintenance treatment; Opioid dependence; Opioid maintenance treatment.
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