Needle Sharing in Opioid-Dependent Outpatients: Psychological Processes Underlying Risk
Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Needle sharing contributes to the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus and other health concerns and remains a persistent problem among injection drug users. We determined whether needle sharing may be related to the discounting of the value of delayed outcomes. Outpatients in treatment for heroin dependence indicated preference for immediate versus delayed hypothetical monetary and heroin outcomes in a titration procedure that determined indifference points at various delays. The degree to which the delayed outcomes lost value was estimated with a nonlinear decay model. Participants who agreed to share a needle in a scenario (N=15) discounted delayed money more steeply than did the nonsharing group (N=17). Both groups discounted delayed heroin more steeply than delayed money. Persistent needle sharing may be related to the relative inability of delayed outcomes to impact current behavior. Training to mitigate the effect of delay on outcome value may offer reductions in needle sharing and drug abuse.
Odum, A. L., Madden, G. J., Badger, G. J., & Bickel, W. K. (2000). Needle sharing in opioid-dependent outpatients: Psychological processes underlying risk. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 60, 259-266.