Subtypes in addiction and their neurobehavioral profiles across three functional domains

Rates of return to use in addiction treatment remain high. We argue that the development of improved treatment options will require advanced understanding of individual heterogeneity in Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). We hypothesized that considerable individual differences exist in the three functional domains underlying addiction-approach-related behavior, executive function, and negative emotionality. We included N = 593 participants from the enhanced Nathan Kline Institute-Rockland Sample community sample (ages 18-59, 67% female) that included N = 420 Controls and N = 173 with past SUDs [54% female; N = 75 Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) only, N = 30 Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) only, and N = 68 Multiple SUDs]. To test our a priori hypothesis that distinct neuro-behavioral subtypes exist within individuals with past SUDs, we conducted a latent profile analysis with all available phenotypic data as input (74 subscales from 18 measures), and then characterized resting-state brain function for each discovered subtype. Three subtypes with distinct neurobehavioral profiles were recovered (p < 0.05, Cohen’s D: 0.4-2.8): a “Reward type” with higher approach-related behavior (N = 69); a “Cognitive type” with lower executive function (N = 70); and a “Relief type” with high negative emotionality (N = 34). For those in the Reward type, substance use mapped onto resting-state connectivity in the Value/Reward, Ventral-Frontoparietal and Salience networks; for the Cognitive type in the Auditory, Parietal Association, Frontoparietal and Salience networks; and for the Relief type in the Parietal Association, Higher Visual and Salience networks (pFDR < 0.05). Subtypes were equally distributed amongst individuals with different primary SUDs (χ2 = 4.71, p = 0.32) and gender (χ2 = 3.44, p = 0.18). Results support functionally derived subtypes, demonstrating considerable individual heterogeneity in the multi-dimensional impairments in addiction. This confirms the need for mechanism-based subtyping to inform the development of personalized addiction medicine approaches.

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