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

Neuroscience-informed Psychoeducation for Addiction Medicine: A Neurocognitive Perspective

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Free PMC article
Review

Neuroscience-informed Psychoeducation for Addiction Medicine: A Neurocognitive Perspective

Hamed Ekhtiari et al. Prog Brain Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

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.

Figures

FIG. 1
FIG. 1
Cartoons to visualize self-awareness impairment among drug users. Gender and ethnicity will play a role in the content and structure of the cartoons as self-engagement is an important target for NIPE. Patients should be able to see themselves from the lens of the cartoons. While the use of stereotypes in cartoons can often support the humorous nature, images that are disrespectful, or overly stereotypical might interfere in this engagement. These cartoons are selected from our explorations in the brain awareness for addiction recovery initiative (BARI) to develop self-engaging cartoons in different genders and with different levels of stereotypy. Feedback from treatment providers and patients regarding the impact of the images will be crucial to informing further development of PE materials.
FIG. 2
FIG. 2
Cartoons for three main parts of the brain awareness for addiction recovery initiative (BARI) presented as three educational posters.
FIG. 3
FIG. 3
Our expectations from the neuroscience-informed psychoeducation (NIPE). We hope the NIPE would target a specific set of neurocognitive processes that correspond main core clinical presentations of the disease. Content of the NIPE will be designed to change these processes of interests (POIs). Structure of the NIPE will also be informed with the POIs and other neurocognitive disorders associated with the disease. We also hope to have a reliable and valid biomarker like a neuroimaging paradigm to predict and/or monitor effects of the NIPE. We still have a long road ahead of us to realize these hopes.

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