Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Addicts Who Live in the Moment May Get Most Benefit From Certain Kinds of Treatment

Date:
March 31, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Summary:
A simple cognitive test may be able to predict how well an individual struggling with addiction will respond to certain treatments, according to a study led by an addiction expert. The human instinct to choose instant gratification, such as a drug high, over a later benefit, such as good health -- known as future or delay discounting -- is strong in people with drug dependencies. An important component of addiction is failure to exert self-control in recognition of future consequences. In a new study, a team of researchers has found an unexpected pattern that may provide hope for tailoring addiction treatments.

Drug-dependent people who least take the future into account may, paradoxically, be the ones to benefit the most from certain treatments.

The human instinct to choose instant gratification, such as a drug high, over a later benefit, such as good health -- known as future or delay discounting -- is strong in people with drug dependencies. An important component of addiction is failure to exert self-control in recognition of future consequences.

In a study in Clinical Psychological Science, a team of researchers has found an unexpected pattern that may provide hope for tailoring addiction treatments.

"It was an incongruity in our data that caught my eye," said Warren Bickel, the lead author of the study and a professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, where he also directs the Addiction Recovery Research Center. "I realized that the people who discounted the future the most -- the ones we least expected to be able to recover from addiction -- also showed the best outcomes when they received an effective treatment. And the ones who discounted the future the least improved the least."

Bickel realized that a particular signature of behavioral change -- called rate dependence -- might apply to future discounting as well.

"Rate dependence generally refers to an inverse relationship between people's rates of responding to something at the outset and then again after an intervention," Bickel said. "This phenomenon is believed to be the reason stimulant medications work for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Stimulants that would make most people bounce off the walls actually slow these kids down."

To learn whether future discounting does indeed change in a rate-dependent manner, Bickel and his colleagues analyzed data from five of Bickel's previous studies that tested a total of 222 people addicted to stimulants, heroin, or tobacco.

Results confirmed the pattern: Participants who are more concerned about future consequences showed little change in how much they delayed gratification, but those who tend to live in the moment showed large reductions in how much they discounted the future.

More tellingly, the treatments caused the greatest drop in substance use among people who had begun with the highest rates of future discounting.

Training a subject's working memory proved to be one of those effective treatments. Bickel's previous research had demonstrated that the process of valuing the future overlaps with mental processes and brain regions associated with memory, and that a training program that enhances working memory can help repair self-control.

"These findings extend our understanding of how interventions can change future discounting as a measure of self-control," said Bickel.

Bickel said he believes the study is the first to identify quantitative signatures of change in decision-making among drug-dependent people.

"A simple cognitive test that measures the degree to which individuals live in the moment might help us personalize treatments for their addictions," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. K. Bickel, R. D. Landes, Z. Kurth-Nelson, A. D. Redish. A Quantitative Signature of Self-Control Repair: Rate-Dependent Effects of Successful Addiction Treatment. Clinical Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/2167702614528162

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Addicts Who Live in the Moment May Get Most Benefit From Certain Kinds of Treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331083601.htm>.
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). (2014, March 31). Addicts Who Live in the Moment May Get Most Benefit From Certain Kinds of Treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331083601.htm
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Addicts Who Live in the Moment May Get Most Benefit From Certain Kinds of Treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331083601.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins