One of the consequences of heroin dependency is a huge expenditure on drugs. This underlying economic expense may be a grave burden for heroin users and may lead to criminal behavior, which is a huge cost to society. The neuropsychological mechanism related to heroin purchase remains unclear. Based on recent findings and the established dopamine hypothesis of addiction, we speculated that expenditure on heroin and central dopamine activity may be associated. A total of 21 heroin users were enrolled in this study. The annual expenditure on heroin was assessed, and the availability of the dopamine transporter (DAT) was assessed by single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) using [99mTC]TRODAT-1. Parametric and nonparametric correlation analyses indicated that annual expenditure on heroin was significantly and negatively correlated with the availability of striatal DAT. After adjustment for potential confounders, the predictive power of DAT availability was significant. Striatal dopamine function may be associated with opioid purchasing behavior among heroin users, and the cycle of spiraling dysfunction in the dopamine reward system could play a role in this association.
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