Planning deficits in polysubstance dependent users: Differential associations with severity of drug use and intelligence

C. Valls-Serrano, A. Verdejo-Garcia, A. Caracuel

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polysubstance use is associated with alterations in different components of executive functioning such as working memory and response inhibition. Nevertheless, less attention has been given to executive planning skills, which are required to benefit of low structured interventions. This study examines the association between severity of use of cocaine, heroin, alcohol, fluid and crystallized intelligence and planning tasks varying on degree of structure. Methods: Data were collected from 60 polysubstance users and 30 healthy controls. Cognitive assessment consisted of three planning tasks with different structure levels: Stockings of Cambridge, Zoo Map test, and Multiple Errands Test. Results: Polysubstance users had significant planning deficits across the three tasks compared to healthy controls. Hierarchical regression models showed that severity of drug use and fluid and crystallized intelligence significantly explained performance in all the planning tasks. However, these associations were higher for low-structured real world tasks. These low-structured tasks also showed a unique association with crystallized but not fluid intelligence. Conclusion: Drug abuse is negatively associated with planning abilities, and intelligence is positively associated with planning performance in real-world tasks
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-78
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Planning
  • Multitasking
  • Intelligence
  • Polysubstance users
  • Multiple Errands Test

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