Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 11, pp 2971–2981 | Cite as

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

  • Ahmed A. MoustafaEmail author
  • Alejandro N. Morris
  • Jean Louis Nandrino
  • Błażej Misiak
  • Monika Szewczuk-Bogusławska
  • Dorota Frydecka
  • Mohamad El Haj
Research Article


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.


Episodic future thinking Addiction Substance use disorder Alcoholism Heroin use disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed A. Moustafa
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author return OK on get
  • Alejandro N. Morris
    • 1
  • Jean Louis Nandrino
    • 4
  • Błażej Misiak
    • 5
  • Monika Szewczuk-Bogusławska
    • 6
  • Dorota Frydecka
    • 6
  • Mohamad El Haj
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.School of Social Sciences and PsychologyWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Marcs Institute for Brain and BehaviourWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Social Sciences, College of Arts and SciencesQatar UniversityDohaQatar
  4. 4.Univ. Lille, CNRS, CHU Lille, UMR 9193, SCALab, Sciences Cognitives et Sciences AffectivesLilleFrance
  5. 5.Department of GeneticsWroclaw Medical UniversityWrocławPoland
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryWroclaw Medical UniversityWrocławPoland
  7. 7.Laboratoire de Psychologie des Pays de la Loire (EA 4638)Université de NantesNantesFrance
  8. 8.Unité de GériatrieCentre Hospitalier de TourcoingTourcoingFrance
  9. 9.Institut Universitaire de FranceParisFrance

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