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eISSN: 1643-3750

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Inferior performance on selected neuropsychological tests in abstinent schizophrenia patients who have used cannabis

Krzysztof Krysta, Irena Krupka-Matuszczyk, Małgorzata Janas-Kozik, Małgorzata Stachowicz, Jan Szymszal, Janusz K. Rybakowski

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(9): CR581-586

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883355


Background:    A substantial proportion of patients with schizophrenia have co-morbid psychoactive substance use, which can influence their cognitive functions. The aim of this study was to assess cognitive functioning in abstinent schizophrenia patients with various previous patterns of psychoactive substance use.
    Material/Methods:    The study was performed on a group of 80 schizophrenia patients (74 men, 6 women), aged 18–40 (mean 25) years, of whom in 40 a co-morbid psychoactive substance abuse was diagnosed. The latter group was subdivided, based on their predominant type of substance (opioid, amphetamine, or cannabis). All patients were examined during clinical improvement, and patients with comorbid substance use were also examined after a 6-week period of detoxification in a therapeutic community. A battery of neuropsychiatric tests was used, which included subtests of Trail Making test, Stroop test and Verbal Fluency test.
    Results:    No significant differences in clinical factors and cognitive functioning between the 2 examined groups were found. However, when the patients were divided according to their pattern of substance use, it turned out that the group of patients who used cannabis, despite the shortest duration of disease and that of addiction, and highest percentage of using atypical antipsychotics, performed worse on all cognitive tests, significantly so on Stroop and Fluency tests, compared to the groups with predominant opioid or amphetamine use.
    Conclusions:    Abstinent schizophrenic patients who previously used cannabis have worse cognitive functioning compared to other schizophrenic patients with comorbid substance use. The possible role of previous cannabis use or cannabis withdrawal in this phenomenon is discussed.

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