Adolescent inhalant use and executive cognitive functioning


  • K. D. Scott,

    1. Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX, USA
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  • A. A. Scott

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA
    • Correspondence:

      Anthony A. Scott, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA


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This study investigates the association between inhalant use and executive cognitive functioning (ECF) and processing speed (PS) in 754 adjudicated poly-substance users on a series of neuropsychological tests. Poly-substance users who used inhalants (PSI = 262) and poly-substance users who did not use inhalants (PSO = 492) neuropsychological tests scores were compared. Hispanic Americans comprised 72% of the participants; European Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans comprised 28% of the participants.


Standardized neuropsychological tests were used to assess ECF and PS. Psychosocial and substance abuse standardized surveys were used to assess drug use severity and psychosocial problems associated with substance use.


Multiple Analysis of Covariance shows that PSI users who used inhalants performed worse on ECF and PS measures in comparison to non-inhalant poly-substance users (PSO). PSI users were younger, used more drugs and had more psychiatric admissions than PSO users.


PSI users initiate substances at a younger age and experienced more ECF and PS deficits, and behavioural problems in comparison to PSO users. The results of this study suggest that PS has direct effect on ECF and psychosocial outcomes in PSI users.