Study Provides Insight on Risky Behaviors in Drug Addicts

A recent study has found a new insight into why those who are addicted to drugs participate in more risk-taking behavior than others. According to the study, published in Psychopharmacology, there seems to be a disconnect between an addict’s craving for “rewards,” or drugs, and his ability to adjust their behavior. Understanding this disconnect could help individuals in drug rehab centers around the country, whether in Palm Springs, California or on the East Coast

According to the study, most people will see something they want, assess how achievable the goal is for them and adjust their actions accordingly. This is true for people from Palm Springs and across the globe. However, for addicts, this system of self-regulation does not work as well as it should. This contributes to their risk-taking behaviors and their poor decision making, as evidenced by the numerous people in drug rehab centers, whether in Palm Springs or New York.

The study details how the process of achieving rewards is broken down into three steps. The first is reward anticipation, where the individual sees and desires something they want. The second step is task-monitoring, where the person predicts the likelihood of receiving the reward based upon their own actions. The final step is reward consummation, or the sense of gratification and achievement once the reward has been gained.

The study enlisted 23 cocaine users and 23 people with no drug use in their history. They had the individuals react to a series of computer tasks that measured how quickly they could press a button after an ‘X’ appeared on screen. Based on their response, the individual received a reward stimulus or a punishment by gaining or losing points. The points were eventually traded in for actual gift cards. All participants were hooked up to an EEG which monitored their electrical brain activity during the study.

According to the researchers, habitual drug users not only showed much higher response to the rewards, but they also were less able to change their actions depending on the task to improve their chance of earning points and enjoyed their reward less than the other participants, which makes sense when you see the numerous people who end up back in drug rehab centers multiple times.

These findings could change the way drug addicts are treated in rehab centers around the world, from Palm Springs to Denver. Allowing doctors and therapists to focus on improving those necessary self-monitoring behaviors in drug addicts could reduce risk-taking behaviors and change lives for the better.

Ryan Muir is a health writer for Fusion 360, an SEO and content marketing agency. Information provided by Miramar Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers. Follow on Twitter.