Five Challenges in Implementing Cognitive Remediation for Patients with Substance Use Disorders in Clinical Settings

Neuropsychol Rev. 2023 Oct 16. doi: 10.1007/s11065-023-09623-1. Online ahead of print.


Many patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) present cognitive deficits, which are associated with clinical outcomes. Neuropsychological remediation might help rehabilitate cognitive functions in these populations, hence improving treatment effectiveness. Nardo and colleagues (Neuropsychology Review, 32, 161-191, 2022) reviewed 32 studies applying cognitive remediation for patients with SUDs. They underlined the heterogeneity and lack of quality of studies in this research field but concluded that cognitive remediation remains a promising tool for addictive disorders. We capitalize on the insights of this review to identify the key barriers that currently hinder the practical implementation of cognitive remediation in clinical settings. We outline five issues to be addressed, namely, (1) the integration of cognitive remediation in clinical practices; (2) the selection criteria and individual factors to consider; (3) the timing to be followed; (4) the priority across trained cognitive functions; and (5) the generalization of the improvements obtained. We finally propose that cognitive remediation should not be limited to classical cognitive functions but should also be extended toward substance-related biases and social cognition, two categories of processes that are also involved in the emergence and persistence of SUDs.

Keywords: Cognitive remediation; Cognitive therapy; Neuropsychology; Substance use disorder.

Publication types

  • Review