Prevalence of cognitive impairment in patients with substance use disorder

Carolien J.W.H. Bruijnen*, Boukje A.G. Dijkstra, Serge J.W. Walvoort, Wiebren Markus, Joanne E.L. VanDerNagel, Roy P.C. Kessels, Cornelis A.J. DE Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction and Aims: Cognitive impairments in substance use disorder predict treatment outcome and are assumed to differ between substances. They often go undetected, thus the current study focuses on the prevalence of and differences in cognitive functioning across substances by means of a cognitive screen at the early stage of addiction treatment. Design and Methods: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment was administered to outpatients seeking treatment for substance use disorder. Patient characteristics (age, years of regular use, polysubstance use, severity of dependence/abuse, depression, anxiety and stress) were also taken into account. Results: A total of 656 patients were included (n = 391 used alcohol, n = 123 used cannabis, n = 100 used stimulants and n = 26 used opioids). The prevalence of cognitive impairments was 31%. Patients using alcohol had a lower total- and memory domain score than those using cannabis. Patients using opioids scored lower on visuospatial abilities than those using cannabis or stimulants. Younger patients scored higher than older patients. No effect was found for the other investigated characteristics. Discussion and Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of cognitive impairments, standard screening at an early stage of treatment is important to determine the course of treatment and maximise treatment outcome. Caution is needed in interpreting results about opioids due to an underrepresentation of this patient group, and more research is needed on the effect of age on Montreal Cognitive Assessment performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number4
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Montreal cognitive assessment
  • prevalence
  • substance use disorder
  • cognitive impairment


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