Exploratory Analysis of Delay Discounting and Cognitive-Affective Regulation Measures in Cocaine Users
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Research investigating addiction across populations suggests that identifying high-risk behavioral factors within a population may help identify key areas to target during treatment. Delay discounting, the measure of the preference for smaller, sooner rewards over larger rewards after a longer delay, has been shown to be a robust predictor of relapse risk, treatment compliance, and abstinence duration in addicted populations. Previous work suggests that individuals exhibiting higher rates of delayed reward discounting are more likely to develop a substance use disorder, and that the continual abuse of substances perpetuates an increase in impulsive decision-making over time, contributing to the cyclic nature of chronic substance use. In addition to behavioral measures, self-report measures assessing high-risk cognitive-affective factors (e.g., distress tolerance, emotion regulation) have also proven to be robust predictors of treatment outcomes. Given the observed correspondence between heightened impulsivity, cognitive-affective regulation, and substance abuse, understanding variables that may interact with impulsive behavior is a promising path towards more effective treatment outcomes. This project had three aims: to compare delay discounting modelling techniques (AUC, Mazur’s k, AUClog, and log-k) in a cocaine-abusing sample, to analyze three cognitive-affective regulation measures (AIS, DERS, and DTS) for potential latent factors, and to assess the relationships between these cognitive-affective measures and delay discounting models. Results of the delay discounting modelling comparing AUC, AUClog, Mazur’s k, and log-k methods to AIS, DTS, and DERS scores yielded no significant relationships, though non-significant trends were consistent with previous literature. An exploratory factor analysis yielded a final three factor solution, with factors corresponding to the DTS, the DERS, and the AIS, respectively. Though delay discounting models and cognitive-affective regulation have been linked to similar treatment outcomes, an exploratory analysis investigating the relationship between these variables suggests no direct relationship between delay discounting and emotion regulation, distress tolerance, or psychological avoidance/inflexibility.