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Smoking Hampers Alcoholics' Neurocognitive Recovery During Abstinence

s assessed the neurocognitive changes that occurred in the two recovering-alcoholic groups during six to nine months of abstinence from alcohol, comparing their neurocognitive performance with that of the controls.

Non-smoking alcoholics showed a significantly greater level of recovery than smoking alcoholics in the areas of mental efficiency, higher-level reasoning and problem-solving, visual-spatial processing skills, and working or short-term memory, said Durazzo.

Although smoking alcoholics in the study improved significantly in auditory-verbal memory and processing speed over six to nine months of abstinence from alcohol, the level of their recovery was not greater than the non-smoking alcoholics. It is also of note that in the smoking alcohol group, those with greater nicotine dependence and longer smoking histories showed less recovery in several areas of functioning, he added.

Sara Jo Nixon, a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Florida, said that sober alcoholics, who has no history of cigarette smoking, attained an improved revitalization of vital mental functions during the first six to nine months of constant abstinence.

In short, abstinent alcoholics without a history of cigarette smoking achieved better recovery of critical mental functions during the first six to nine months of sustained sobriety. [These] differential outcomes demonstrate the importance of considering the behavioral impact of continued cigarette smoking among alcoholics on long-term recovery of function, Nixon said.

Durazzo said that the findings imply that consideration of smoking status is significant to the evaluation of cognitive revival.

Even though our results should be considered preliminary, they suggest that consideration of smoking status is relevant to the assessment of cognitive recovery. More generally, chronic smoking may impact neurocognition in other conditi
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