Author(s): Bolla KI, Funderburk FR, Cadet JL
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To investigate the dose-related effects of cocaine with or without alcohol use on the CNS by measuring performance on neurobehavioral tests. BACKGROUND: Chronic use of cocaine is associated with persistent decrements in cognitive function that are most pronounced in heavy users. Specific neurobehavioral deficits in areas such as executive function and impulsivity would make it difficult for the cocaine abuser to discontinue using drugs. Because alcohol is often used in conjunction with cocaine, the CNS effects of alcohol when taken with cocaine deserve further investigation. METHOD: The authors evaluated the dose-related effects of cocaine and alcohol use on performance in a variety of neuropsychological tests after 1 to 3 days of abstinence and again after 4 weeks of abstinence. Fifty-six chronic cocaine abusers who had used cocaine during the past 24 to 48 hours volunteered to perform a battery of neuropsychological tests on two separate occasions during a period of enforced abstinence. In addition to using cocaine, most of the volunteers consumed alcohol. Approximately half of the participants consumed more than 10 alcohol-containing drinks per week. RESULTS: After controlling for the effects of age, sex, and intelligence on performance, the authors found dose-related associations between neurobehavioral performance and cocaine dose and alcohol dose. When the influences of cocaine and alcohol on neurobehavioral performance were taken separately, cocaine and alcohol each selectively affected performance on different neurobehavioral tests after 1 to 3 days of abstinence, with these effects persisting after 4 weeks of abstinence. CONCLUSION: The concomitant use of cocaine and alcohol may have additive negative effects on the brain as compared to the use of only one of these two substances.
This article was published in Neurology
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy