Not all drugs are created equal: Impaired future thinking in opiate, but not alcohol, users

Ahmed A. Moustafa*, Alejandro N. Morris, Jean Louis Nandrino, Błażej Misiak, Monika Szewczuk-Bogusławska, Dorota Frydecka, Mohamad El Haj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Episodic future thinking refers to the ability to travel forward in time to pre-experience an event. Although future thinking has been intimately linked with self and identity, to our knowledge, no prior research has compared episodic future thinking in populations with different substance use disorders. This study investigates whether there are differences in episodic future thinking between these alcohol and opiate users. The study recruited participants who were on the opiate substitution program (n = 31) and individuals who had been diagnosed with alcohol dependence (n = 21) from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Drug and Health Services. Healthy controls (n = 23) were recruited via Royal Prince Alfred Hospital databases and the general community. Past and future thinking was measured using four cue words. After each cue word, participants rated their phenomenological experience (e.g. emotion, reliving experience). Results indicated that alcohol-dependent individuals performed significantly higher in episodic future thinking compared to opiate users. These findings indicate that not all substance use disorder groups share similar episodic thinking capabilities. Our results suggest that the self-projection component of rehabilitation programs may have to be tailored to the different episodic construction abilities found in substance use disorder groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2971-2981
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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