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Two studies explored the differences in tastant (salt, sour, bitter, sweet and spicy) concentration preference between recreational drug users and abstainers. In study 1, 250 opportunistically recruited abstainers, cannabis only users and multiple-drug users completed psychometric questionnaires and a concentration preference tastant test. In study 2, 76 participants purposefully recruited abstainers, daily tobacco users, recreational cannabis users and daily cannabis users completed the same protocol as study 1. Study 1 demonstrated that both multiple drug users and cannabis users had a higher preference for salt and sour tastants than abstainers. Study 2 showed that daily cannabis and tobacco users had a higher preference for sweet and spicy tastants than recreational cannabis users and abstainers. As predicted, recreational drug users scored higher on both sensation-seeking and impulsivity compared to abstainers. Participants who habitually smoke tobacco or cannabis daily have different concentration preference for specific tastants. The aim of the current study was to provide an explanation for the inconsistency in published results on taste preferences in recreational drug users. The data offered in this paper indicate that variation in recruitment strategy, definition of ‘drug users’, and mode of drug delivery, as well as multiple drug use, may explain the preference for stronger tastants in habitual drug users. Future research exploring the psychobiological underpinnings of the impact of drug use on food preferences should carefully define recreational drug user groups.

Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Ltd.