Short-term neuropsychological recovery in alcohol use disorder: A retrospective clinical study

Addict Behav. 2020 Jun;105:106350. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106350. Epub 2020 Feb 8.


Background: Neuropsychological impairments found in recently detoxified patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can limit the benefit of psychosocial treatments and increase the risk of relapse. These neuropsychological deficits are reversible with abstinence. The aim of this retrospective clinical study was to investigate whether a short-term stay as inpatients in a convalescent home enables neuropsychological deficits observed in recently detoxified AUD patients to recover and even performance to return to normal.

Methods: Neuropsychological data were collected in 84 AUD patients. Five neuropsychological components were assessed before and after a three-week stay in a convalescent home offering multidisciplinary support. Baseline and follow-up performance were compared in the entire group of patients and in subgroups defined by the nature and intensity of the therapy (OCCASIONAL: occasional occupational and physical therapy; INTENSIVE: intensive occupational and physical therapy and neuropsychological training).

Results: In the entire group of patients, neuropsychological performance significantly improved between baseline and follow-up for all 5 components and even returned to a normal level for 4 of them. The ratio of patients with impaired performance was significantly lower at follow-up than baseline examination for 3 components in the INTENSIVE group only.

Conclusion: Recently detoxified AUD patients with cognitive deficits benefit from a short-term stay in an environment ensuring sobriety and healthy nutrition. Cognitive recovery may be enhanced by intensive care including neuropsychological training. Alcohol programs could be postponed in patients with cognitive deficits in order to offer psychosocial treatment when patients are cognitively able to benefit from it.

Keywords: Alcohol use disorder; Cognitive recovery; Neuropsychology; Training.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Abstinence / psychology
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Residential Facilities
  • Retrospective Studies