Neuroscience-informed psychoeducation for addiction medicine: A neurocognitive perspective

Prog Brain Res. 2017;235:239-264. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2017.08.013. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Psychoeducation (PE) is defined as an intervention with systematic, structured, and didactic knowledge transfer for an illness and its treatment, integrating emotional and motivational aspects to enable patients to cope with the illness and to improve its treatment adherence and efficacy. PE is considered an important component of treatment in both medical and psychiatric disorders, especially for mental health disorders associated with lack of insight, such as alcohol and substance use disorders (ASUDs). New advancements in neuroscience have shed light on how various aspects of ASUDs may relate to neural processes. However, the actual impact of neuroscience in the real-life clinical practice of addiction medicine is minimal. In this chapter, we provide a perspective on how PE in addiction medicine can be informed by neuroscience in two dimensions: content (knowledge we transfer in PE) and structure (methods we use to deliver PE). The content of conventional PE targets knowledge about etiology of illness, treatment process, adverse effects of prescribed medications, coping strategies, family education, and life skill training. Adding neuroscience evidence to the content of PE could be helpful in communicating not only the impact of drug use but also the beneficial impact of various treatments (i.e., on brain function), thus enhancing motivation for compliance and further destigmatizing their symptoms. PE can also be optimized in its "structure" by implicitly and explicitly engaging different neurocognitive processes, including salience/attention, memory, and self-awareness. There are many interactions between these two dimensions, structure and content, in the delivery of neuroscience-informed psychoeducation (NIPE). We explore these interactions in the development of a cartoon-based NIPE to promote brain recovery during addiction treatment as a part of the brain awareness for addiction recovery initiative.

Keywords: Addiction; Cartoon; Metacognitive; Neuroscience; Psychoeducation; Self; Training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Addiction Medicine*
  • Behavior, Addictive / rehabilitation*
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*