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Cigarette smoking history is associated with poorer recovery in multiple neurocognitive domains following treatment for an alcohol use disorder.

  • Author(s): Durazzo, Timothy C
  • Meyerhoff, Dieter J
  • et al.

Cigarette smoking is associated with neurocognitive dysfunction in various populations, including those seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This study compared the rate and extent of recovery on measures of processing speed, executive functions, general intelligence, visuospatial skills and working memory in treatment-seeking alcohol dependent individuals (ALC) who were never-smokers (nvsALC), former-smoker (fsALC), and active smokers (asALC), over approximately 8 months of abstinence from alcohol. Methods: ALC participants were evaluated at approximately 1 month of abstinence (AP1; n = 132) and reassessed after 8 months of sobriety (AP2; n = 54). Never-smoking controls (CON; n = 33) completed a baseline and follow-up (n = 19) assessment approximately 9 months later. Domains evaluated were executive functions, general intelligence, processing speed, visuospatial skills and working memory; a domain composite was formed from the arithmetic average of the foregoing domains. nvsALC showed greater improvement than fsALC, asALC and CON on most domains over the AP1-AP2 interval. fsALC demonstrated greater recovery than asALC on all domains except visuospatial skills; fsALC also showed greater improvements than CON on general intelligence, working memory and domain composite. asALC did not show significant improvement on any domain over the AP1-AP2 interval. At 8 months of abstinence, asALC were inferior to CON and nvsALC on multiple domains, fsALC performed worse than nvsALC on several domains, but nvsALC were not different from CON on any domain. Our results provide robust evidence that smoking status influenced the rate and extent of neurocognitive recovery between 1 and 8 months of abstinence in this ALC cohort. Chronic smoking in AUD likely contributes to the considerable heterogeneity observed in neurocognitive recovery during extended abstinence. The findings provide additional strong support for the benefits of smoking cessation and the increasing clinical movement to offer smoking cessation resources concurrent with treatment for AUD.

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