Recovery of cognitive function in a substance abuse population 

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Substance abuse is known to cause injury to the brain that may not be fully repaired by sobriety. The most commonly identified impairments are in attention, working memory, and executive functioning. Although research has found that most people do experience some level of cognitive improvement after stopping substance use, it is unclear how quickly this happens and if there is a particular pattern in improvement. This pilot study tested the natural rate of cognitive recovery in early substance abuse treatment.

Methods: Participants were 28 adults newly admitted to a residential substance abuse treatment facility. All were post-detox. The majority were in treatment for polysubstance abuse, with 15 having primary opioid abuse. NIH Toolbox cognition battery was administered at intake and 4 weeks later.

Results: Regarding cognition, primary weaknesses at baseline were in processing speed (Pattern Comparison mean t- score=41.96), attention and executive function (Flanker mean t- score=43.0), and working memory (List Sorting mean t- score=44.04). Cognitive recovery during the normal course of early inpatient treatment was significant in the areas of processing speed, attention, and executive functioning and yielded significant improvement in the Cognitive Function Composite Score (p < .01).

Conclusions: Consistent with previous research, this pilot study found that patients commonly enter inpatient treatment with inefficiencies in fluid cognition skills. Over the course of 1-month of inpatient treatment, this sample of patients experienced significant improvement across multiple domains, with significant improvements in composite Fluid and Total Cognition scores. Further study on the pattern of cognitive changes during substance abuse treatment may be used to help better match intervention strategy to cognitive level and possibly develop cognitive rehabilitation protocols to increase treatment engagement and extend abstinence via improvement in cognitive capacity.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2020
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Day 2020 - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 27 Feb 202028 Feb 2020


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Day 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States


Dive into the research topics of 'Recovery of cognitive function in a substance abuse population '. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this