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How Addiction Causes Executives to Make Dangerous Errors in Judgment

addiction and errors in judgment among executives

How Addiction Causes Executives to Make Dangerous Errors in Judgment

Executives today are facing problems created by addiction and errors in judgment.  Drug addiction may affect the brain in a way that prevents users from recognizing the potential costly consequences of their substance abuse, such as job loss or jail time, warns a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research examined, as a measure of reward prediction error, the neural response of drug users to both reward and the violation of expectation, to compare a cocaine user’s ability to foresee a potential loss, compared to that of a non-drug user. Unfortunately, the inability to predict losses and the potential adverse consequences of harmful behaviors can cause an individual to make dangerous errors in judgment, especially business executives who handle multimillion-dollar contracts on a daily basis.

Addiction Causes Executive to Use Poor Judgement

In the study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City recorded the brain activity of 75 study participants, 50 of whom were cocaine users, and 25 of whom were not, measuring the activity in their brains while they played a gambling game. Through a series of trials, the study participants were asked to anticipate each time whether they would win or lose money, given three known win probabilities (25%, 50% or 75%), and the researchers found that the cocaine users performed significantly worse than the non-drug using participants. As such, the researchers concluded that individuals who abuse cocaine have a much harder time foreseeing losses and the potential adverse consequences of their actions, compared to people who don’t abuse drugs.  Addiction and errors in judgment are becoming more prevalent today as people strive to be high-achievers.

Addicts Repeat Negative Behaviors, Despite Adverse Outcomes

In addition to these findings, the researchers involved in the Journal of Neuroscience study also discovered that cocaine users might have difficulty differentiating between expected and unexpected results regarding loss, which means, substance abusers may continue making the same mistakes time and time again, without experiencing any remorse for or awareness of their behavior. The findings of this study are valuable for many reasons. In addition to helping addicts and their loved ones understand the extent to which substance abuse can impair their judgment, future researchers may also be able to use the study report to detect which individuals may be vulnerable to drug addiction or relapse.

The Effect of Cocaine Abuse on the Brain

Learning and decision-making skills are mostly influenced by a person’s ability to detect the difference between expected and unexpected outcomes, and to react accordingly. However, previous research has shown that cocaine use may affect the part of the brain that triggers the release of dopamine in response to positive or negative outcomes, which may cause substance abusers to repeat the same harmful actions or behaviors, despite adverse consequences, since they are unable to foresee a potential loss. This is a dangerous side effect for business executives to experience, as they are responsible for making multimillion-dollar decisions at work, and their judgment may be impaired if they are abusing cocaine.

Contact the Addiction Recovery Specialists at BRS

Business executives, like anyone else, can be affected by addiction and errors in judgment.  But, by understanding the adverse impact cocaine and other drugs can have on the brain and body, an addict’s loved ones can get him the help he needs. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced substance abuse counselor to discuss the ways in which you can help. At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, our addiction recovery specialists are trained to provide personalized addiction treatment geared towards meeting each client’s unique recovery needs and to develop a program that improves his or her chances of long-term sobriety.

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