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1.  Do drug treatment variables predict cognitive performance in multidrug-treated opioid-dependent patients? A regression analysis study 
Background
Cognitive deficits and multiple psychoactive drug regimens are both common in patients treated for opioid-dependence. Therefore, we examined whether the cognitive performance of patients in opioid-substitution treatment (OST) is associated with their drug treatment variables.
Methods
Opioid-dependent patients (N = 104) who were treated either with buprenorphine or methadone (n = 52 in both groups) were given attention, working memory, verbal, and visual memory tests after they had been a minimum of six months in treatment. Group-wise results were analysed by analysis of variance. Predictors of cognitive performance were examined by hierarchical regression analysis.
Results
Buprenorphine-treated patients performed statistically significantly better in a simple reaction time test than methadone-treated ones. No other significant differences between groups in cognitive performance were found. In each OST drug group, approximately 10% of the attention performance could be predicted by drug treatment variables. Use of benzodiazepine medication predicted about 10% of performance variance in working memory. Treatment with more than one other psychoactive drug (than opioid or BZD) and frequent substance abuse during the past month predicted about 20% of verbal memory performance.
Conclusions
Although this study does not prove a causal relationship between multiple prescription drug use and poor cognitive functioning, the results are relevant for psychosocial recovery, vocational rehabilitation, and psychological treatment of OST patients. Especially for patients with BZD treatment, other treatment options should be actively sought.
doi:10.1186/1747-597X-7-45
PMCID: PMC3551729  PMID: 23121989
Opioid-dependence; Opioid agonist therapy; Pharmacotherapy; Psychotropic drugs; Neurocognitive performance; Neuropsychological testing
2.  Cognitive functioning in opioid-dependent patients treated with buprenorphine, methadone, and other psychoactive medications: stability and correlates 
Background
In many but not in all neuropsychological studies buprenorphine-treated opioid-dependent patients have shown fewer cognitive deficits than patients treated with methadone. In order to examine if hypothesized cognitive advantage of buprenorphine in relation to methadone is seen in clinical patients we did a neuropsychological follow-up study in unselected sample of buprenorphine- vs. methadone-treated patients.
Methods
In part I of the study fourteen buprenorphine-treated and 12 methadone-treated patients were tested by cognitive tests within two months (T1), 6-9 months (T2), and 12 - 17 months (T3) from the start of opioid substitution treatment. Fourteen healthy controls were examined at similar intervals. Benzodiazepine and other psychoactive comedications were common among the patients. Test results were analyzed with repeated measures analysis of variance and planned contrasts. In part II of the study the patient sample was extended to include 36 patients at T2 and T3. Correlations between cognitive functioning and medication, substance abuse, or demographic variables were then analyzed.
Results
In part I methadone patients were inferior to healthy controls tests in all tests measuring attention, working memory, or verbal memory. Buprenorphine patients were inferior to healthy controls in the first working memory task, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task and verbal memory. In the second working memory task, the Letter-Number Sequencing, their performance improved between T2 and T3. In part II only group membership (buprenorphine vs. methadone) correlated significantly with attention performance and improvement in the Letter-Number Sequencing. High frequency of substance abuse in the past month was associated with poor performance in the Letter-Number Sequencing.
Conclusions
The results underline the differences between non-randomized and randomized studies comparing cognitive performance in opioid substitution treated patients (fewer deficits in buprenorphine patients vs. no difference between buprenorphine and methadone patients, respectively). Possible reasons for this are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-13
PMCID: PMC3176473  PMID: 21854644
3.  Memory function in opioid-dependent patients treated with methadone or buprenorphine along with benzodiazepine: longitudinal change in comparison to healthy individuals 
Background
Opioid-substitution treatment (OST) for opioid dependence (OD) has proven effective in retaining patients in treatment and reducing illegal opiate abuse and crime. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the opioid agonists methadone and buprenorphine as essential drugs for OD that should be available worldwide. In many areas of the world, OD is often associated with concomitant benzodiazepine (BZD) dependence and abuse, which complicates treatment. However, possible changes in the cognitive functioning of these patients are not well-known. The present study is the first to examine longitudinal stability of memory function in OST patients with BZD use, thus providing a new tool for health policy authorities in evaluating the usefulness of OST.
Methods
Within the first two months (T1) and between 6–9 months (T2) after OST admission, we followed the working memory, immediate verbal memory, and memory consolidation of 13 methadone- and 15 buprenorphine- or buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients with BZD dependence or abuse disorder. The results were compared to those of fifteen normal comparison participants. All participants also completed a self-reported memory complaint questionnaire on both occasions.
Results
Both patient groups performed statistically significantly worse than normal comparison participants in working memory at time points T1 and T2. In immediate verbal memory, as measured by list learning at T1, patients scored lower than normal comparison participants. Both patient groups reported significantly more subjective memory problems than normal comparison participants. Patients with more memory complaints recalled fewer items at T2 from the verbal list they had learned at T1 than those patients with fewer memory complaints. The significance of the main analyses remained nearly the same when the statistical tests were performed without buprenorphine-only patients leaving 12 patients to buprenorphine/naloxone group.
Conclusion
Working memory may be persistently affected in OST patients with BZD use. A high number of memory complaints among OST patients with BZD use may indicate memory consolidation impairment. These findings show that recovery of memory function in OD patients treated along with BZDs takes time, and their memory complaints may have practical relevance.
doi:10.1186/1747-597X-4-6
PMCID: PMC2676265  PMID: 19374740
4.  Methadone vs. buprenorphine/naloxone during early opioid substitution treatment: a naturalistic comparison of cognitive performance relative to healthy controls 
Background
Both methadone- and buprenorphine-treated opioid-dependent patients frequently show cognitive deficits in attention, working memory, and verbal memory. However, no study has compared these patient groups with each other during early opioid substitution treatment (OST). Therefore, we investigated attention, working memory, and verbal memory of opioid-dependent patients within six weeks after the introduction of OST in a naturalistic setting and compared to those of healthy controls.
Methods
The sample included 16 methadone-, 17 buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients, and 17 healthy controls matched for sex and age. In both groups buprenorphine was the main opioid of abuse during the recent month. Benzodiazepine codependence, recent use, and comedication were also common in both patient groups. Analysis of variance was used to study the overall group effect in each cognitive test. Pair-wise group comparisons were made, when appropriate
Results
Methadone-treated patients, as a group, had significantly slower simple reaction time (RT) compared to buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients. In Go/NoGo RT methadone patients were significantly slower than controls. Both patient groups were significantly debilitated compared to controls in working memory and verbal list learning. Only methadone patients were inferior to controls in story recall. In simple RT and delayed story recall buprenorphine/naloxone patients with current benzodiazepine medication (n = 13) were superior to methadone patients with current benzodiazepine medication (n = 13). When methadone patients were divided into two groups according to their mean dose, the patient group with a low dose (mean 40 mg, n = 8) showed significantly faster simple RT than the high dose group (mean 67 mg, n = 8).
Conclusion
Deficits in attention may only be present in methadone-treated early phase OST patients and may be dose-dependent. Working memory deficit is common in both patient groups. Verbal memory deficit may be more pronounced in methadone-treated patients than in buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients. In sum, to preserve cognitive function in early OST, the use of buprenorphine/naloxone may be more preferable to methadone use of, at least if buprenorphine has been recently abused and when benzodiazepine comedication is used. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate if the better performance of buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients is a relatively permanent effect or reflects "only" transient opioid switching effect.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-7-5
PMCID: PMC1914339  PMID: 17565668

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