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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013 Oct;37(10):1794-803. doi: 10.1111/acer.12140. Epub 2013 May 17.

Neurocognition in 1-month-abstinent treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent individuals: interactive effects of age and chronic cigarette smoking.

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Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIND) , San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, California; Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, California.



Increasing age and chronic cigarette smoking are independently associated with adverse effects on multiple aspects of neurocognition in those seeking treatment for alcohol use disorders. However, the potential interactive effects of age and cigarette smoking on neurocognition in early abstinent alcohol-dependent individuals (ALC) have not investigated.


Cross-sectional performances of never-smoking healthy comparison participants (nvsCOM; n = 39) and 1-month-abstinent, treatment-seeking, never-smoking (nvsALC; n = 30), former-smoking (fsALC; n = 21), and actively smoking (asALC; n = 68) ALC were compared on a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. Domains of functioning evaluated were cognitive efficiency, executive functions, fine motor skills, general intelligence, learning and memory, processing speed, visuospatial functions and working memory. Participants were between 26 and 71 years of age at the time of assessment.


asALC showed steeper age-related effects than nvsCOM on the domains of visuospatial learning, auditory-verbal memory, cognitive efficiency, executive functions, processing speed, and fine motor skills. In pairwise comparisons, fsALC and asALC performed more poorly than both nvsCOM and nvsALC on multiple domains; nvsCOM and nvsALC showed no significant differences. Domain scores for the ALC groups generally fell in the low-to-high-average range of functioning. A clinically significant level of impairment was apparent in only 25% of ALC participants on visuospatial learning, visuospatial memory, and fine motor skills domains. Measures of alcohol use or consumption were not significantly related to neurocognition in the ALC cohorts.


The age-related findings suggest that the combination of active chronic smoking and alcohol dependence in this 1-month-abstinent ALC cohort was associated with greater than normal age-related effects in multiple domains. In general, a low level of clinically significant impairment was observed in the alcohol-dependent participants. The findings from this study, in conjunction with previous research, strongly support smoking cessation interventions for those seeking treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders.


Age; Alcohol Dependence; Alcohol Use Disorders; Cigarette Smoking; Neurocognition

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