Drug use over time is related to changes in brain function, but how to measure this? In this new Norwegian study, researchers have investigated how best to measure the ability to impulse control and planning houses for drug addicts.

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This appears in a new guest post from Thomas SolgÄrd Svendsen and is taken from his blog about drug research and addiction. Here you read the post:

This is the first summary from an article we have written from Stayerstudy at KORFOR. We will publish summaries of all the articles we publish in this study, so that everyone who is interested can read and understand what we are working on.

  • You can read the whole article here.



Addiction to one or a mixture of drugs over time has been shown to be related to changes in how the brain works, as it takes time to change. This is, among other things, about deciding on things in everyday life, and thinking about the consequences of what you do. 

This affects quality of life, the ability to be in work or education, and how it goes in treatment for drug addiction.

Diagnosis of brain functions is expensive and not very accessible in the treatment apparatus. Therefore, it would be wise if readily available and effective tools for mapping these important functions in the brain were used more.

In our study (Stayer study) there was a questionnaire called Brief - A, which proved to be the most effective tool for mapping the ability to control impulses, plan and think about the consequences of what you do in everyday life in people with drug addiction.


The participants

126 participants with drug addiction in the Stavanger area were mapped in relation to emotions, the ability to be able to decide things and to think about the consequences of what one does. 


  • Participants had to be drug-free for at least 2 weeks so that abstinence did not affect the tests too much. 
  • The 126 participants started on average and became addicted when they were 13 years old, and they had been addicted for an average of 15 years before joining the study. 
  • 65% of the participants had used syringes, and more than 60% of the participants had not been in treatment before, or tried once before. 
  • 70% of the participants were men, and the average age was 29 years.

We used tests called Brief-A, the Iowa Gambling Task, the Trailmaking Test and Stroop to map the features we write about here.



The questionnaire called Brief - A proved to be the most effective tool for mapping the ability to control one's own impulses, plan and think about the consequences of what one does in people with drug addiction.



Mapping the ability to control one's own impulses, plan and think about the consequences of what one does in people with drug addiction early in the treatment, is important because it can say something about how the person feels as soon as the treatment starts. 

Perhaps this can also contribute to not so many dropping out of treatment before they have completed it because it "boils" too much in the mind, as many describe it as. This can lead to people stopping treatment precisely because the functions we test in the study are not completely in place.

It may be that you feel unstable, that you are not able to think about the consequences of ending the treatment, and perhaps also that she or he starts rushing again.



A questionnaire such as Brief - A can be one of several effective tools for mapping how people feel when they start treatment, which can lead to more people completing their treatment and receiving help that is better suited to each individual person.

- From the blog Rusfeltet og avhengighet

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Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
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