Deficits in social perception in opioid maintenance patients, abstinent opioid users and non-opioid users
Article first published online: 5 DEC 2012
© 2012 The Authors, Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 108, Issue 3, pages 566–574, March 2013
How to Cite
McDonald, S., Darke, S., Kaye, S. and Torok, M. (2013), Deficits in social perception in opioid maintenance patients, abstinent opioid users and non-opioid users. Addiction, 108: 566–574. doi: 10.1111/add.12040
- Issue published online: 18 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 5 DEC 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 16 NOV 2012 05:46PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 10 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUN 2012
- Emotion perception;
- opioid users;
- social perception
This study aimed to compare emotion perception and social inference in opioid maintenance patients with abstinent ex-users and non-heroin-using controls, and determine whether any deficits in could be accounted for by cognitive deficits and/or risk factors for brain damage.
A total of 125 maintenance patients (MAIN), 50 abstinent opiate users (ABST) and 50 matched controls (CON).
The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT) was used to measure emotion perception and social inference. Measures were also taken of executive function, working memory, information processing speed, verbal/non-verbal learning and psychological distress.
After adjusting for age, sex, pre-morbid IQ and psychological distress, the MAIN group was impaired relative to CON (β = −0.19, P < 0.05) and ABST (β = −0.19, P < 0.05) on emotion perception and relative to CON (β = −0.25, P < 0.001) and ABST (β = −0.24, P < 0.01) on social inference. In neither case did the CON and ABST groups differ. For both emotion perception (P < 0.001) and social inference (P < 0.001), pre-morbid IQ was a significant independent predictor. Cognitive function was a major predictor of poor emotion perception (β = −0.44, P < 0.001) and social inference (β = −0.48, P < 0.001). Poor emotion recognition was also predicted by number of heroin overdoses (β = −0.14, P < 0.05). Neither time in treatment or type of maintenance medication (methadone or buprenorphine) were related to performance.
People in opioid maintenance treatment may have an impaired capacity for emotion perception and ability to make inferences about social situations.