Long-term cognitive impairment found in crack-cocaine abusers

May 28, 2002

Impaired memory and motor skills were found in crack-cocaine users up to 6 months after their last use of the drug. Individuals with a history of heavy crack use had the most severe impairments. The researchers believe that these deficits are evidence of brain damage caused by substance abuse.

The NIDA-supported researchers administered a battery of comprehensive neuropsychological tests to 20 crack-dependent subjects, 37 crack-and-alcohol-dependent subjects, and 29 individuals with no history of drug or alcohol abuse. The tests were given twice-the first time following 6 weeks of abstinence from drugs and again after 6 months of drug abstinence. The tests assessed the subjects' attention span, decision-making, spatial processing, immediate and delayed memory, calculation ability, reaction time, verbal fluency, and psychomotor skills.

Both drug-abusing groups showed significant cognitive impairments at both the 6-week and the 6-month time points. The largest effects were found in the executive function and spatial processing assessments.

WHAT IT MEANS: With approximately 2 million cocaine abusers in the United States, the finding that brain damage resulting in long-term impaired mental and physical functioning can result from its use makes developing and utilizing effective prevention and treatment methods an urgent public health priority.
The study was published in the February 2002 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence by a research team from Neurobehavioral Research, Inc., Corte Madera, CA; University of Illinois at Chicago; and the Herrick/Alta Bates Hospital, Berkeley, CA. Dr. George Fein was the lead author.

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

Related Drugs Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

Wallflowers could lead to new drugs
Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides - like digitoxin - have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies.

Bristol pioneers use of VR for designing new drugs
Researchers at the University of Bristol are pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a tool to design the next generation of drug treatments.

Towards better anti-cancer drugs
The Bayreuth biochemist Dr. Claus-D. Kuhn and his research team have deciphered how the important human oncogene CDK8 is activated in cells of healthy individuals.

Separating drugs with MagLev
The composition of suspicious powders that may contain illicit drugs can be analyzed using a quick and simple method called magneto-Archimedes levitation (MagLev), according to a new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer
American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.

Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK
Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation, reveals new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey into global trends of substance-linked sex.

Promising new drugs for old pathogen Mtb
UConn researchers are targeting a metabolic pathway, the dihydrofolate reductase pathway, crucial for amino acid synthesis to treat TB infections.

Can psychedelic drugs heal?
Many people think of psychedelics as relics from the hippie generation or something taken by ravers and music festival-goers, but they may one day be used to treat disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

New uses for existing antiviral drugs
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs work against a range of viral diseases, but developing them can be costly and time consuming.

Read More: Drugs News and Drugs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.