How Does Drug Addiction Impact Memory Loss?

Drug addiction has many adverse effects on the body and brain. If untreated, long-term drug use can lead to a number of cancers, chronic diseases, and other mental disorders. Drug use can also affect memory loss. Sometimes, educating people on the dangers and potential risks of drug use is the only way to encourage them to seek treatment.

Cancer, chronic conditions, and memory loss are just a few potential problems drug use can cause. Excessive and long-term drug use can lead to dependency and impaired function and may even result in death. There is a better way, but you must choose it for yourself.

Most Common Drug Addictions

There are several substances that individuals can become addicted to, some that seem mundane and others that are used for legitimate medical reasons. That is the risk people take when they begin using substances, whether they start consuming alcohol at a young age or start prescription medications for pain management.

Aside from alcohol, some of the most common drugs people become dependent on include:

  • Prescription opioids – pain relievers that cause euphoria and can lead to death when prescriptions are not followed
  • Marijuana – often misconstrued as being non-addictive
  • Cocaine – an addictive stimulant from the leaves of a coca plant
  • Heroin – an opioid made from morphine that is highly addictive and can cause detrimental effects
  • Methamphetamine – an addictive stimulant, also known as crystal meth

All these substances have one thing in common–they are highly addictive and can wreak all kinds of short- and long-term adverse effects on people. Some effects may vary depending on the drug, but they are all, nonetheless, dangerous.

What Are the Effects of Drug Use?

Excessive drug use can lead to several complications. For starters, it can lead to the development of co-occurring mental health disorders. On the flip side, mental health disorders can also lead individuals to substance use to cope with symptoms. In either situation, dependency is a serious risk. Some of the most typically co-occurring illnesses include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Short-Term Effects

Effects vary depending on the drug in question, but some of the short-term effects of drug use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hangover
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Paranoia and hallucinations

These effects typically occur relatively quickly, but they can last for hours. People sometimes use drugs because of their short-term effects. For example, marijuana can relax individuals or reduce their worries, so they may use it to help with anxiety. However, people can also react badly to it, causing an intense fit of paranoia. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how the brain or body will respond to drugs, which only scratches the surface of why drug use is so dangerous.

Long-Term Effects

Similarly, the longer a person uses drugs, the greater their risk of developing long-term problems. Excessive drug use can lead to:

  • Psychosis
  • Overdose
  • Death
  • Erratic behavior and intense mood swings
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Impaired cognitive function or memory loss
  • Reduced appetite and malnutrition
  • Chronic conditions like liver and kidney disease, heart problems, or cancer
  • Consequences from risky behaviors, such as drunk driving or unprotected sex
  • The development of co-occurring mental disorders

The best thing a person can do to prevent these long-term effects is to refrain from drug use. To quit using drugs, a person may require detox and treatment.

How Does Drug Addiction Impact Memory Loss?

As mentioned, long-term or excessive drug use can lead to impaired cognitive function or memory loss. That is because the “brain regions and neural processes that underlie addiction overlap extensively with those that support cognitive functions, including learning, memory, and reasoning,” according to Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. Research indicates that drug use in these regions early on “foster strong maladaptive associations between drug use and environmental stimuli,” which lead to cravings and drug-seeking behavior.

The effects on a developing brain can be even more problematic. As an adolescent, drug use can affect cognition, leading to the development of other physical or mental disorders and other long-term changes. Most illegal substances cause chemical changes to the brain, which can make the brain change physically as well. These chemical changes, in turn, make recalling memories more challenging.

Are There Ways to Reduce the Risk of Memory Loss?

Again, the best way to reduce the risk of memory loss due to drug use is to stop using those drugs. Upon abstaining from drugs, the brain can begin to heal itself over time. That is not to say all memory recall will return or other chronic conditions will be cured. There are medications and memory loss treatments you can try. However, the longer you abstain and the more time you have to heal, the better the results will be over time.

Memories are precious, and losing them can be difficult. Addiction takes so much away from us – do not let it take your memories too.

Drug addiction can lead to a number of chronic conditions and dangerous problems, including cancer, liver and heart disease, and the development of co-occurring mental disorders. Unfortunately, drug addiction can also lead to impaired cognitive function and memory loss. That is because the chemical changes that occur cause physical changes to the brain and body. These changes make recalling memories more difficult, but they can improve with time and memory loss treatment. The ultimate way to prevent drug-related memory loss is to abstain from substance use and seek treatment if you need help stopping. If you need help, call Excel Treatment Center at (833) 883-9235. Drugs and addiction do not have to consume you – choose the path to recovery today. 

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