How does craving bias decisions to pursue drugs over other valuable, and healthier, alternatives in addiction? To address this question, we measured the in-the-moment economic decisions of people with opioid use disorder as they experienced craving, shortly after receiving their scheduled opioid maintenance medication and ~24 h later. We found that higher cravers had higher drug-related valuation, and that moments of higher craving within-person also led to higher drug-related valuation. When experiencing increased opioid craving, participants were willing to pay more for personalized consumer items and foods more closely related to their drug use, but not for alternative “nondrug-related” but equally desirable options. This selective increase in value with craving was greater when the drug-related options were offered in higher quantities and was separable from the effects of other fluctuating psychological states like negative mood. These findings suggest that craving narrows and focuses economic motivation toward the object of craving by selectively and multiplicatively amplifying perceived value along a “drug relatedness” dimension.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health