Often individuals with substance use disorders show signs of impaired attention/ mental control, information processing or general cognitive functioning. Mental impairment can have an impact on the extent an individual can engage with intervention, and it has been found that cognitive impairment is associated with poorer outcomes in treatment.
A recent study has investigated the link between cognitive functioning and treatment outcomes of an internet-delivered intervention, the Therapeutic Education System (TES).
507 patients seeking treatment for drug or alcohol problems across 10 community-based outpatient treatment programmes participated in the randomized control trial. Patients either received 12 weeks of treatment as usual or 12 weeks of treatment as usual plus the TES. Levels of cognitive functioning were also measured.
It was found that impaired reasoning and cognitive flexibility were particularly linked with lower treatment retention in both groups. Additionally, results found that TES did not differ in effectiveness across levels of mental functioning, and therefore can be used as an appropriate treatment for a diverse population, regardless of their cognitive ability. This study highlights the potential benefits of internet-delivered cognitive behavioural intervention for substance use disorders.