Research Topic

Polysubstance Abuse and Cognitive Dysfunction

About this Research Topic

Polysubstance use is a common condition among all Substance Use Disorders, regardless of drug choice. Substance users present a history of multiple substance use during their lifetime, which has been suggested to be an important factor in the course and prognosis of their addictive disorders. This condition has been linked to poor clinical outcomes during detoxification treatments and to interfere in sustaining long periods of abstinence. Numerous findings have suggested pronounced cognitive deficits associated to specific substance use (for example, alcohol, cannabis or cocaine), including attentional and memory impairments, reasoning and problem-solving difficulties, lack of visuoperceptual and motor skills, emotional dysregulation and inhibitory control problems, and reduction of processing speed. Preclinical data reinforce these associations indicating that chronic substance administrations (e.g., alcohol and cocaine) can alter animals’ cognitive abilities to respond to a range of behavioral and cognitive tasks. Some pharmacological interventions are suggested to be able to revert such deficits through specific biomolecular changes, however, it still presents a challenge to animal studies that translate their findings to a clinical perspective.

All these recognized cognitive deficits have implications in a clinical perspective, such as low treatment adherence, poor attendance at outpatients treatments, reduced motivation to change and keep abstinence and, consequently, higher relapses rates and readmissions in detoxification units. Additionally, individuals who are multiple substance users tend to have difficulties handling with comorbid psychiatry symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. However, there is still a lack in literature regarding the effects of multiple drug use in cognition and in the recovery of these cognitive functions within withdrawal from all drugs. This Research Topic aims to fill the gap between preclinical and clinical findings regarding cognitive and neuropsychological impact of polysubstance use among individuals with any type of Substance Use Disorders (e.g., alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, crack-cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, etc.).

We welcome original research, review articles and mini reviews addressing recent findings and discussion about such topic, including but not limited to:
• Clinical studies investigating the cognitive impact of drug use in different developmental time-periods in behavioral dysfunctions and psychopathological conditions.
• Clinical studies using neuropsychological tools to evaluate a range of cognitive functions (e.g., executive function, working memory, learning and memory, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility).
• Preclinical or clinical studies focusing on the exploration of potential molecular mechanisms underlying the negative effects of multiple substance use in cognition.
• Animal models of substance use measuring behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions.
• Neuroimage studies providing structural or functional data of the effects of drug use in different brain regions are strongly suggested as a potential way to elucidate specific brain pathways related to poor clinical outcomes among this population.
• Sex-differences comparisons regarding the cognitive effects of multiple substance use and the potential biomolecular mechanisms underlying such differentiation.


Keywords: Addiction, Substance Use Disorder, Cognition, Clinical Studies, Animal Models


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Polysubstance use is a common condition among all Substance Use Disorders, regardless of drug choice. Substance users present a history of multiple substance use during their lifetime, which has been suggested to be an important factor in the course and prognosis of their addictive disorders. This condition has been linked to poor clinical outcomes during detoxification treatments and to interfere in sustaining long periods of abstinence. Numerous findings have suggested pronounced cognitive deficits associated to specific substance use (for example, alcohol, cannabis or cocaine), including attentional and memory impairments, reasoning and problem-solving difficulties, lack of visuoperceptual and motor skills, emotional dysregulation and inhibitory control problems, and reduction of processing speed. Preclinical data reinforce these associations indicating that chronic substance administrations (e.g., alcohol and cocaine) can alter animals’ cognitive abilities to respond to a range of behavioral and cognitive tasks. Some pharmacological interventions are suggested to be able to revert such deficits through specific biomolecular changes, however, it still presents a challenge to animal studies that translate their findings to a clinical perspective.

All these recognized cognitive deficits have implications in a clinical perspective, such as low treatment adherence, poor attendance at outpatients treatments, reduced motivation to change and keep abstinence and, consequently, higher relapses rates and readmissions in detoxification units. Additionally, individuals who are multiple substance users tend to have difficulties handling with comorbid psychiatry symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. However, there is still a lack in literature regarding the effects of multiple drug use in cognition and in the recovery of these cognitive functions within withdrawal from all drugs. This Research Topic aims to fill the gap between preclinical and clinical findings regarding cognitive and neuropsychological impact of polysubstance use among individuals with any type of Substance Use Disorders (e.g., alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, crack-cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, etc.).

We welcome original research, review articles and mini reviews addressing recent findings and discussion about such topic, including but not limited to:
• Clinical studies investigating the cognitive impact of drug use in different developmental time-periods in behavioral dysfunctions and psychopathological conditions.
• Clinical studies using neuropsychological tools to evaluate a range of cognitive functions (e.g., executive function, working memory, learning and memory, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility).
• Preclinical or clinical studies focusing on the exploration of potential molecular mechanisms underlying the negative effects of multiple substance use in cognition.
• Animal models of substance use measuring behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions.
• Neuroimage studies providing structural or functional data of the effects of drug use in different brain regions are strongly suggested as a potential way to elucidate specific brain pathways related to poor clinical outcomes among this population.
• Sex-differences comparisons regarding the cognitive effects of multiple substance use and the potential biomolecular mechanisms underlying such differentiation.


Keywords: Addiction, Substance Use Disorder, Cognition, Clinical Studies, Animal Models


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

18 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

18 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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