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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 24;8(7):e68791. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068791. Print 2013.

Effects of length of abstinence on decision-making and craving in methamphetamine abusers.

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  • 1National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, Beijing, China. wangguibin@bjmu.edu.cn

Abstract

RATIONALE:

The majority of drug abusers are incapable of sustaining abstinence over any length of time. Accumulating evidence has linked intense and involuntary craving, Impulsive decision-making and mood disturbances to risk for relapse. However, little is known about temporal changes of these neuropsychological functions in methamphetamine (METH)-dependent individuals.

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate the effect of length of abstinence on decision-making, craving (baseline and cue-induced), and emotional state in METH-addicted individuals.

METHODS:

In this cross-sectional study, 183 adult METH-dependent patients at an addiction rehabilitation center who were abstinent for 6 days (n = 37), 14 days (n = 33), 1 month (n = 31), 3 months (n = 30), 6 months (n = 26), or 1 year (n = 30) and 39 healthy subjects were administered the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to assess decision-making performance. Depression, anxiety, and impulsivity were also examined. One hundred thirty-nine METH abusers who were abstinent for the aforementioned times then underwent a cue session, and subjective and physiological measures were assessed.

RESULTS:

METH dependent individuals who were abstinent for longer periods of time exhibited better decision-making than those who were abstinent for shorter periods of time. And self-reported emotional symptoms improved with abstinence. METH abusers' ratings of craving decreased with the duration of abstinence, while cue-induced craving increased until 3 months of abstinence and decreased at 6 months and 1 year of abstinence.

CONCLUSIONS:

We present time-dependent alterations in decision-making, emotional state, and the incubation of cue-induced craving in METH-dependent individuals, which might have significant clinical implications for the prevention of relapse.

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