Alcohol use disorders can cause cognitive dysfunctioning

Alcohol use disorders can cause cognitive dysfunctioning

Frequent drinking habits or excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol use disorders (AUDs). These disorders can further form the basis of other problems that can harm cognitive abilities. A group of researchers from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany found that those diagnosed with AUDs can face the problem of cognitive dysfunctioning.

The study, titled “Social cognition and social problem solving abilities in individuals with alcohol use disorder,” found that 70 percent patients suffering from substance abuse disorders are dependent on alcohol only. Approximately 14 percent cases included disorders arising from abuse of drugs and alcohol, whereas 18 percent cases involved consumption of illicit drugs only.

As part of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology in November 2016, the scientists examined 31 AUDs patients, including 24 males, aged between 24 and 63. The participants were compared with the control group comprising 30 respondents, including 24 males, in the age bracket of 24-61 years. The scientists then analyzed social cognitive abilities and social problem solving skills by utilizing ecologically valid tests. The results of both the groups were compared on the basis of gender, age and educational qualifications.

Education has no impact on IQ of AUD patients

It was found that despite similar levels of education, patients detected with AUD showed significantly lower levels of IQ than those in the control group. Apart from this, the AUD patients also scored more than those in the control group on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scale. While noting the results, the scientists kept in mind that patients suffering from major depressive disorder manifest signs of deteriorations in cognitive abilities; some instances of derelictions being prolonged in spite of recovery and consequent reduction in symptoms. The results also showed that the participants in the control group smoked less compared to those with AUD.

Elucidating the findings, the authors wrote, “Investigators used tests designed to gauge the ability to infer the mental state of story characters in complicated interpersonal situations, the capacity to select the best problem solving strategy among other less optimal alternatives, and the ability to freely generate appropriate strategies to handle difficult interpersonal conflicts.”

A detailed evaluation of the cognitive flexibility, visuospatial memory skills and verbal memory skills of those afflicted with AUD revealed significant blunting during the social problem resolution task. Looking at the fact that the impact of such impairments can be long term in spite of the recovery, physicians need to consider them while prescribing medications to the AUD patients.

Treating co-occurring problems of drinking and social inhibition

The findings are important because nearly 70 percent substance use disorders (SUDs) are due to alcohol dependence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths due to drinking rank fourth among the leading causes of preventable deaths in America.

The ambivalence of Americans toward alcohol has only resulted in its consistent use despite its addictive properties. The psychological impact that drinking has on people cannot be ignored. Hence, it has become imperative to find out about any drinking problem among those who are depressed, have social response problems and cognitive difficulties. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 16.3 million adults had an AUD in 2014. Also, approximately 679,000 teenagers were suffering from AUD in 2014.

If you or someone you know, has been struggling with addiction problems coupled with psychiatric disorders, the Dual Diagnosis Helpline can assist you in finding the best dual diagnosis rehab centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to know about various dual diagnosis rehabs in the U.S.