Question: In adults with learning disabilities and substance misuse, what is the most effective treatment in improving patient outcomes?


Plain language summary
There is limited evidence assessing the most effective interventions for substance abuse in individuals with learning disabilities. More high quality research in this area is needed to adequately compare treatments.

Clinical and research implications
One moderate quality, pilot trial in 34 US veterans found some evidence that cognitive training with work therapy can significantly improvement verbal learning and verbal memory after three months compared to work therapy alone. However, although all participants had an alcohol use disorder, only around 50% had some form of verbal learning or memory impairment and the results were not reported separately for this group. Therefore the results of this trial cannot fully answer this question and there is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of interventions for substance in adults with learning disabilities.
As this was a small pilot study in a specific population of US veterans, further research into cognitive training in adults with alcohol use disorders is needed. Due to the lack of results for the group with a learning impairment there is also a need for further randomised controlled trials evaluating interventions for substance abuse in adults with learning disabilities.

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