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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Sep 1;178:435-442. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.04.034. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Enduring changes in brain metabolites and executive functioning in abstinent cocaine users.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Electronic address: Candice.Crocker@dal.ca.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
3
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a paucity of data connecting the metabolic and cognitive functioning of abstinent cocaine users. This is a pressing public health concern as approximately 1% of the Canadian population and 0.4% of the global population is estimated to have used cocaine in the past year.

METHODS:

Our clinical study compared the in vivo neurochemical profiles in the prefrontal cortex to cognitive tests associated with the same region in 21 moderate term abstinent cocaine users (average 187days abstinent, range 15-1432days), and 30 healthy controls using 3T 1H MRS.

RESULTS:

The abstinent cocaine users exhibited a 10% decrease in N-acetylaspartate (NAA) relative to healthy control subjects (p<0.01, Cohen's d=1.15). When subdivided by method of administration, a significant decrease in glutamate levels in former crack smokers compared to healthy controls (p<0.05) was observed, this decrease was not present in powder users. Abstinent users were significantly worse than healthy controls on the Trail Making Test B (p<0.05), and performance on this task was inversely related to NAA levels (p<0.05). Abstinent cocaine users showed deficits in the Wisconsin card sorting test with failures to maintain set (p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Our work suggests that there are subtle but important changes in the brain that remain even with the moderate term cessation of cocaine use.

KEYWORDS:

Abstinence; Addiction; Cocaine; Glutamate; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; NAA; Trail making test

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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