Attentional bias predicts heroin relapse following treatment

Institute of Psychology (IOP), Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
Addiction (Impact Factor: 4.6). 10/2006; 101(9):1306-12. DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01498.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous studies have shown that abstinent heroin addicts exhibit an attentional bias to heroin-related stimuli. It has been suggested that attentional bias may represent a vulnerability to relapse into drug use. In the present study, the predictive value of pre-treatment attentional bias on relapse was examined in a population of abstinent heroin addicts. Further, the effect of cue exposure therapy (CET) on attentional bias was studied.
Participants were assigned randomly to receive nine sessions of CET or placebo psychotherapy.
An in-patient drug abuse treatment setting.
Abstinent heroin-dependent patients.
Participants completed the emotional Stroop task both before and after completing treatment.
Pre-treatment attentional bias predicted relapse at 3-month follow-up, even when controlling for self-reported cravings at the test session. Further, attentional bias was reduced in both groups after therapy, independent of treatment condition.
Attentional bias may tap an important component of drug dependence as it is a predictor of opiate relapse. However, CET does not specifically reduce attentional bias.

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