NEuro COgnitive REhabilitation for Disease of Addiction (NECOREDA) Program: From Development to Trial

Basic Clin Neurosci. 2015 Oct;6(4):291-8.


Despite extensive evidence for cognitive deficits associated with drug use and multiple publications supporting the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation treatment (CRT) services for drug addictions, there are a few well-structured tools and organized programs to improve cognitive abilities in substance users. Most published studies on cognitive rehabilitation for drug dependent patients used rehabilitation tools, which have been previously designed for other types of brain injuries such as schizophrenia or traumatic brain injuries and not specifically designed for drug dependent patients. These studies also suffer from small sample size, lack of follow-up period assessments and or comprehensive treatment outcome measures. To address these limitations, we decided to develop and investigate the efficacy of a paper and pencil cognitive rehabilitation package called NECOREDA (Neurocognitive Rehabilitation for Disease of Addiction) to improve neurocognitive deficits associated with drug dependence particularly caused by stimulants (e.g. amphetamine type stimulants and cocaine) and opiates. To evaluate the feasibility of NECOREDA program, we conducted a pilot study with 10 opiate and methamphetamine dependent patients for 3 months in outpatient setting. NECOREDA was revised based on qualitative comments received from clients and treatment providers. Final version of NECOREDA is composed of brain training exercises called "Brain Gym" and psychoeducational modules called "Brain Treasures" which is implemented in 16 training sessions interleaved with 16 review and practice sessions. NECOREDA will be evaluated as an add-on intervention to methadone maintenance treatment in a randomized clinical trial among opiate dependent patients starting from August 2015. We discuss methodological features of NECOREDA development and evaluation in this article.

Keywords: Cognitive enhancers; Drug addiction; NECOREDA; Treatment.