Impulsivity as a vulnerability factor for poor addiction treatment outcomes: a review of neurocognitive findings among individuals with substance use disorders

Laura Stevens, Antonio Javier Verdejo-Garcia, Anneke Goudriaan, Herbert Roeyers, Geert Dom, Wouter Vanderplasschen

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152 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

With the current review, we explore the hypothesis that individual differences in neurocognitive aspects of impulsivity (i.e., cognitive and motor disinhibition, delay discounting and impulsive decision-making) among individuals with a substance use disorder are linked to unfavorable addiction treatment outcomes, including high drop-out rates and difficulties in achieving and maintaining abstinence. A systematic review of the literature was carried out using PubMed, PsycINFO and Web of Knowledge searches. Twenty-five unique empirical papers were identified and findings were considered in relation to the different impulsivity dimensions. Although conceptual/methodological heterogeneity and lack of replication are key limitations of studies in this area, findings speak for a prominent role of cognitive disinhibition, delay discounting and impulsive decision-making in the ability to successfully achieve and maintain abstinence during and following addiction treatment. In contrast, indices of motor disinhibition appear to be unrelated to abstinence levels. Whereas the relationship between impulsivity and treatment retention needs to be examined more extensively, preliminary evidence suggests that impulsive/risky decision-making is unrelated to premature treatment drop-out among individuals with a substance use disorder. The reviewed findings are discussed in terms of their clinical implications
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58 - 72
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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