Drug addiction continues to be an important public health problem, with an estimated 22.6 million current illicit drug users in the United States alone. For many addictions, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana addiction, there are no approved pharmacological treatments. Behavioral treatments are effective but effects vary widely across individuals. Treatments that are effective across multiple addictions are greatly needed, and accumulating evidence suggests that one such approach may be pharmacological or behavioral interventions that enhance executive inhibitory control in addicts. Current evidence indicates that most forms of chronic drug use may be associated with significant cognitive impairments, especially in attention, working memory, and response inhibition functions. In some studies, these impairments predict poor treatment retention and outcome. A number of cognitive enhancing agents, including galantamine, modafinil, atomoxetine, methylphenidate, and guanfacine, have shown promising findings in human studies. Specific behavioral interventions, including cognitive remediation, also show promise. However, whether improvement of selective cognitive functions reduces drug use behavior remains to be determined. Cognitive enhancement to improve treatment outcomes is a novel strategy worthy of future research, as are related questions such as whether these approaches may be broadly beneficial to most addicts or best reserved for substance users with specific demonstrated cognitive impairments. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Cognitive Enhancers'.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.