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Addiction and Memory Loss

Addiction can cause memory loss

The brain is a delicate organ that functions on a precise balance of neurotransmitters. Many prescription drugs shift this balance to address problems, but other drugs, especially when abused, cause undesirable side effects. Addiction involves exposing oneself to chronic, high-doses of drugs, and the same chemical reactions that produce a high can also have immediate and long-term effects on memory. Tennessee drug users risk not only their health, but also their minds every time they abuse drugs. Seek help to get and stay clean.

How Addiction Affects Memory

Addiction is closely tied to the formation of memories. When Tennessee drug users abuse drugs, they make memories. Repeated use makes repeated memories, which can reinforce the idea that drug abuse is good and desirable. The persistence of these kinds of memories are part of why addiction is so hard to overcome, and why it never completely disappears. Memories made under the influence of drugs can also be inaccurate. The feelings of wellbeing created by the drug seep into the memories the drug high makes, so a time that involved danger and disagreement could be remembered as a high adventure. These kinds of memories reinforce drug use, as users believe drugs lead to happy times rather than ruin.

The brain’s areas that register pleasure are also used to form memories. If the brain is steeped in enough chemicals to produce pleasure, it can be incapable of forming new memories. When drug use makes people temporarily unable to create and retain memories, it is called anterograde amnesia. Drug addicts may call this time a “blackout,” meaning they took so many drugs that they cannot remember what happened. Alcohol can also produce anterograde amnesia, but this effect may be best associated with benzodiazepines, particularly Rohypnol, and is also common when people abuse multiple depressants. Additionally, Ambien abuse can lead to lucid sleepwalking, but it may be a case of drug-induced anterograde amnesia.

Long-Term Memory Problems due to Drug Abuse

Even after people enter addiction recovery and stop using drugs, memory problems can endure. A part of the brain called the hippocampus is important to creating new memories, but long-term drug abuse can damage this part of the brain, perhaps because many opioid receptors are located in it. A 2006 article in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows reduced memory functioning among former heroin users. They performed worse on tests to create and access spatial memories. Marijuana addiction can also cause long-term problems by deteriorating memory skills commonly associated with aging. In other words, Tennessee residents need help as soon as possible to quit using drugs.

Help for Tennessee Drug Users

If you or a Tennessee friend has memory problems due to drug addiction, call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline to learn more about memory, addiction and treatment options. You can recover if you have the right help.