Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T., & Copenhaver, M.
Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, March 2015. Abstract
Background: Previous research has suggested possible sex-related differences in executive functioning among cocaine users; however, no studies specifically explain sex-related differences in neurocognitive impairment (NCI) among cocaine users receiving clinical care. Knowledge about this association can aid in the development of targeted prevention strategies to reduce adverse health outcomes. This study was designed to examine the sex-related differences in NCI among high-risk cocaine users receiving substance-abuse treatment.
Methods: The Neuropsychological Impairment Scale (NIS) was administered to 199 cocaine users (98 men; 101 women), receiving methadone maintainance treatment, to assess self-reported NCI by identifying the patients’ awareness of neuropsychological symptoms. We used T-test comparison to find differences in NCI between men and women and multiple regression analysis to explore the relative contribution of sex to NCI.
Results: Consistent with prior work, high NCI was evident within this sample, as indicated by high scores on most of the NIS subscales. Women reported greater impairment than men, as evidenced by significantly higher scores on several NIS subscales, after controlling for demographic and other confounding variables. Interestingly, cocaine craving significantly predicted NCI among men but not among women, as suggested by the significant association between cocaine craving and all except one of the NIS subscales.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that cocaine users enter into treatment with a range of NCI – with women having significantly more neurocognitive deficits than men – that may contribute to differential treatment outcomes. This highlights the need to include additional services such as neuropsychological screening and sex-specific treatment programs to optimally reduce adverse health outcomes in these high-risk, cognitively impaired patients.