BACKGROUND: Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) have been associated with impaired neurocognitive functioning, which may (partly) improve with sustained abstinence. New treatments are emerging, aimed at improving cognitive functions, and being tested. However, no integrated review is available regarding neurocognitive recovery following sustained abstinence.
OBJECTIVES: In this review, results from prospective studies on neurocognitive recovery using neuropsychological assessments before and after sustained abstinence from SUDs are summarized and discussed.
RESULTS: Thirty-five prospective studies were selected for this review, including twenty-two alcohol, three cannabis, four cocaine, three (meth)amphetamine, and three opioid studies. Results suggest that some cognitive functions (partially) recover after sustained abstinence, and that there are predictors of an unfavorable course such as poly-substance use and number of previous detoxifications.
CONCLUSIONS: Prospective studies indicate that sustained abstinence after SUDs generally results in (partial) neurocognitive recovery. However, a final answer regarding full recovery awaits prospective studies with neurocognitive assessments before, during, and after sustained abstinence from SUDs. New interventions that might enhance neurocognitive recovery after abstinence are discussed, including neurocognitive training, medication and neuromodulation.