Differences in Impulsivity And Risk-Taking Propensity Between Primary Users of Crack Cocaine And Primary Users of Heroin in a Residential Substance-Use Program

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Crack cocaine use is more associated with impulsivity and a propensity to take risks than heroin use, yet no studies have examined this relationship in the absence of acute drug effects. The current study examined impulsivity (using the Delay Discounting Task) and risk-taking propensity (using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task) across independent groups of primary crack cocaine users with minimal heroin use (n=16) and primary heroin users with minimal crack cocaine use (n=11) in residential treatment, with all participants drug abstinent during participation. Crack cocaine users evidenced greater levels of impulsivity and risk-taking propensity, with only the difference in impulsivity persisting after controlling for age and gender. These data hold potential theoretical importance in understanding differences between crack cocaine and heroin users, as the findings cannot be attributed solely to acute pharmacological drug effects.

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Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, v. 13, issue 4, p. 311-318