Recreational drug use and prospective memory

Adnan Levent, Eddy J Davelaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prospective memory (PM) impairment in recreational drug users has been documented in recent years. However, most studies on the effects of drugs on PM contain several methodological challenges, such as small sample size (< 100 participants), unrepresentative sample type (e.g., student or patient), short abstinence period (< 7 days), and lack of control of potential confounds (e.g., sleep and IQ). The present study investigated the possible consequences of recreational drug use on prospective memory, using self-report and lab-based prospective memory measures while overcoming the methodological challenges. The sample was composed of 47 non-users (27 females, age range from 18 to 50 +) and 53 drug users (21 females, age range from 18 to 50 +). Recreational drug users reported significantly more deficits in the long-term episodic, short-term habitual, and internally cued PM failures subscales of the Prospective Memory Questionnaire. However, these deficits were eliminated after controlling for covariates (e.g., age, sleep quality, general health, alcohol usage). Recreational drug users also performed worse than non-users in the short-term, long-term, event-based, and time-based PM subscales of the Royal Prince Alfred Prospective Memory Test. These results remained significant after controlling for the covariates. Drug users demonstrated greater impairments on time-based and long-term PM tasks thought to be linked with executive functioning. Taken together, the present study provides further support for recreational drug-related deficits in PM and highlights a dissociation between self-report and lab-based PM measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-922
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Female
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders/chemically induced
  • Memory, Episodic
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine/pharmacology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recreational Drug Use
  • Substance-Related Disorders

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