Cocaine-dependent adults and recreational cocaine users are more likely than controls to choose immediate unsafe sex over delayed safer sex

Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Matthew W. Johnson, Daisy G.Y. Thompson-Lake, Michael J. Wesley, Terry Lohrenz, P. Read Montague, Warren K. Bickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Cocaine users have a higher incidence of risky sexual behavior and HIV infection than nonusers. Our aim was to measure whether safer sex discount rates-a measure of the likelihood of having immediate unprotected sex versus waiting to have safer sex-differed between controls and cocaine users of varying severity. Of the 162 individuals included in the primary data analyses, 69 met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR) criteria for cocaine dependence, 29 were recreational cocaine users who did not meet the dependence criteria, and 64 were controls. Participants completed the Sexual Discounting Task, which measures a person's likelihood of using a condom when one is immediately available and how that likelihood decreases as a function of delay to condom availability with regard to 4 images chosen by the participants of hypothetical sexual partners differing in perceived desirability and likelihood of having a sexually transmitted infection. When a condom was immediately available, the stated likelihood of condom use sometimes differed between cocaine users and controls, which depended on the image condition. Even after controlling for rates of condom use when one is immediately available, the cocaine-dependent and recreational users groups were more sensitive to delay to condom availability than controls. Safer sex discount rates were also related to intelligence scores. The Sexual Discounting Task identifies delay as a key variable that impacts the likelihood of using a condom among these groups and suggests that HIV prevention efforts may be differentially effective based on an individual's safer sex discount rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-304
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Cocaine dependence
  • HIV risk behavior
  • Impulsivity
  • Recreational users
  • Sexual Discounting Task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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