The relative impact of nicotine dependence, other substance dependence, and gender on Bechara Gambling Task performance

Michael S. Businelle, Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, USA.
Megan R. Apperson
Darla E. Kendzor
Meredith A. Terlecki
Amy L. Copeland


Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) tend to focus more on immediate, rather than cumulative, consequences of their actions on measures of decision-making. This type of decision-making may contribute to continued substance use. The present study compared the performance of four groups of individuals on one measure of decision-making, the Bechara Gambling Task (BGT). The groups were (a) heavy smokers with comorbid substance dependence (n = 40), (b) heavy smokers with no history of substance dependence (n = 19), (c) substance dependent never smokers (n = 26), and (d) never smokers with no history of substance dependence (n = 34). Analysis revealed that there were no significant main effects of gender or SUD status. However, a significant gender by SUD status interaction was found, such that men with an SUD performed more poorly on the BGT than men without an SUD history. Women with and without an SUD both performed poorly on this task. Unexpectedly, no differences in BGT performance were found between smokers and nonsmokers. Overall, findings indicate that having an SUD, other than nicotine dependence, is correlated with poor BGT performance in men only. The BGT did not differentiate between women with and without SUDs, and therefore, may not be an appropriate measure of decision-making in women.