Cognitive Functioning Related to Binge Alcohol and Cannabis Co-Use in Abstinent Adolescents and Young Adults

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2020 Jul;81(4):479-483. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2020.81.479.


Objective: Despite preliminary evidence of unique acute cognitive and psychopharmacological changes attributable to combined alcohol and cannabis use, few studies have investigated more chronic effects of same-day co-use, particularly during neurodevelopmentally sensitive periods. Therefore, relationships between past-month binge alcohol and cannabis co-use and cognitive functioning were examined in adolescents and young adults.

Method: Data from the Imaging Data in Emerging Adults with Addiction (IDEAA) Consortium were used to assess cognitive functioning in emerging adults with a large range of substance use (n = 232; 15-26 years old) who were abstinent for at least 3 weeks. Multiple regressions assessed cognitive functioning by past-month binge episodes, cannabis use episodes, and same-day co-use, controlling for covariates (e.g., study site, sex, age).

Results: After correcting for multiple comparisons, more past-month co-use episodes were related to decreased Ruff 2&7 selective attention accuracy (p = .036). Sex significantly covaried with California Verbal Learning Test-Second Edition initial learning.

Conclusions: Although few significant relationships were found and effect sizes are modest, the persistence of an effect on attention despite a period of sustained abstinence highlights the need to carefully investigate patterns of substance use and potential independent and interactive effects on the developing brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Binge Drinking / psychology*
  • Cognition* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Young Adult