Cognitive Impairment Influences Drinking Outcome by Altering Therapeutic Mechanisms of Change


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Abstract

Serious neuropsychological impairments are seen in a minority of addiction treatment clients, and, theoretically, these impairments should undermine behavioral changes targeted by treatment; however, little evidence supports a direct influence of impairment on treatment response. To address this paradox, the authors used structural equation modeling and Project MATCH data (N = 1,726) to examine direct, mediated, and moderated paths between cognitive impairment, therapeutic processes, and treatment outcome. Mediated relations were found, wherein impairment led to less treatment compliance, lower self-efficacy, and greater Alcoholics Anonymous Involvement, which, in turn, more proximally predicted drinking. Impairment further moderated the effect of self-efficacy, making it a poor predictor of drinking outcomes in impaired clients, thereby suggesting that impaired and unimpaired clients traverse different pathways to addiction recovery.

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