Methamphetamine and cannabis abuse in adolescence: A quasi-experimental study on specific and long-term neurocognitive effects

Natalie L. Cuzen, Sheri Michelle Koopowitz, Helen L. Ferrett, Dan J. Stein, Deborah Yurgelun-Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objectives: Methamphetamine abuse affects brain structure and function. Although methamphetamine and cannabis are commonly abused together, few studies have investigated the differential neurocognitive consequences of methamphetamine abuse with or without cannabis. Furthermore, the effects of drug use on the developing adolescent brain remain poorly understood. We compared neurocognitive function between adolescents with 'pure' methamphetamine abuse, those with comorbid methamphetamine and cannabis abuse, and healthy controls at baseline and follow-up. Methods: Individuals residing in the greater Cape Town region, between the ages of 13 and 18 years, were recruited into either Methamphetamine only group (Meth-only; n=10), Methamphetamine and cannabis group (Meth-cann; n=10) or healthy control (n=20) groups using a quasi-experimental design. All participants underwent a comprehensive neurocognitive assessment. Substance-use variables and psychiatric symptom counts were also recorded. A portion of the Meth-only and control participants completed 12-month follow-up assessments. Results: While the Meth-cann group demonstrated widespread neurocognitive deficits at baseline, these deficits were restricted to the self-monitoring domain in the Meth-only group at baseline and at follow-up. Conclusions: Methamphetamine abuse with cannabis abuse is associated with significantly more neurocognitive impairment than methamphetamine abuse alone, and such deficits may be enduring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number005833
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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