Lack of longitudinal changes in cognition in individuals with methamphetamine use disorder during the first 6 weeks after commencing treatment

Rebecca E. Fitzpatrick, Alex H. Robinson, Adam J. Rubenis, Dan I. Lubman, Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Methamphetamine use disorder (MUD) associates with cognitive impulsivity deficits. However, few studies have examined longitudinal changes in cognition, and it remains unclear if deficits resolve during early recovery. Objectives: To compare: (1) cognitive function of individuals with MUD at treatment onset and six-weeks later with controls tested over the same period; (2) cognitive changes in MUD-individuals who remained abstinent versus relapsed. Method: We recruited 108 participants meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for methamphetamine dependence (81 males) and 50 demographically matched controls (38 males); 77 methamphetamine- dependent participants (59 males) and 48 controls (36 males) were retained at follow-up. We administered response inhibition, delay discounting and uncertainty-based decision-making tests at both endpoints. Relapse was defined as methamphetamine concentrations >0.4 ng/mg at follow-up in hair toxicology. Results: We found a significant time-by-group interaction on uncertainty-based decision-making (effect size: η2 = .05), although post-hoc tests to disentangle this interaction yielded inconclusive results (p-range = .14–.40; BF10 -range = 0.43–1.67). There were no significant time-by-group interactions on response inhibition or delay discounting, with the former likely a null effect (η2 -interaction = .003 and.02; BFincl = 0.23 and 0.71). There were no significant differences in cognitive recovery between individuals who maintained abstinence (n = 12) versus relapsed (n = 65) (η2 -range = .003-.04), although evidence was inconclusive toward whether findings reflected true null effects (BFincl -range = 0.33–0.75). Conclusion: We did not find evidence that MUD-related cognitive impulsivity deficits improve beyond practice effects over 6 weeks. Findings do not support previous, albeit conflicting, evidence of early recovery of cognitive deficits in MUD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021


  • cognitive recovery
  • cognitive tests
  • impulsivity
  • Methamphetamine use disorder

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