Cognitive Function of Alcohol Abuse Patients May Influence Treatment Outcome

Armen Hareyan's picture
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DURHAM, N.C. - Clinicians treating newly recovering alcohol abuse patients should assess the patients' "executive" cognitive functioning prior to the start of treatment and adjust treatment protocols in accordance with those capabilities, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Otherwise, they said, patients may not get the most out of treatment early in the treatment process.

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In a study reported in the September 2004 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the scientists found that alcohol abuse patients showed significant deficits in their executive functioning during the critical first weeks of abstinence.

According to the researchers, the early phases of most treatment programs for alcohol abusers commonly require working in groups, making plans for the future, inhibiting behaviors related to their addiction, and remembering specific things. These actions demand individual skills that are part of what experts call "executive functioning"

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