Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Neuropsychological functioning in cocaine abusers with and without alcohol dependence


JANE E.  ROBINSON a1c1, ROBERT K.  HEATON a2 and STEPHANIE S.  O'MALLEY a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
a2 Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA

Abstract

Thirty codependent cocaine and alcohol users were compared with age-, education-, race-, and sex-matched cocaine abusers (N = 30) and normals (N = 30) using an extended Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery to determine whether cocaine abusers with alcohol dependence were more cognitively impaired than singly addicted cocaine abusers. Tests were grouped and analyzed according to 8 major ability areas. Participants who abused both cocaine and alcohol did not differ from normals on the majority of test measures. An unexpected but consistent finding was the poorer performance of the cocaine sample relative to cocaine and alcohol abusers on measures of complex psychomotor and simple motor functioning (ps < .001). Pure cocaine abusers, but not abusers of both cocaine and alcohol, also performed more poorly than normals on a measure of global neuropsychological functioning (p < .01). These results are consistent with previous reports of generally mild cognitive dysfunction in cocaine abusers. The findings also suggest that cocaine and alcohol abusers of relatively young ages may be less cognitively impaired than demographically comparable cocaine abusers. Evidence from studies of vascular functioning in abusers of cocaine and alcohol alone and in combination is discussed as possible explanation for these findings. (JINS, 1999, 5, 10–19.)

(Received September 8 1997)
(Revised March 25 1998)
(Accepted March 30 1998)


Key Words: Neuropsychological; Cocaine; Alcohol dependence.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: Jane E. Robinson, Yale University School of Medicine, 1 Long Wharf, Box 18, New Haven, CT 06511. E-mail: jane.robinson@yale.edu