Research has shown that drug addiction and alcoholism can take major tolls on the body. Reported long-term consequences of addiction may include high blood pressure, stroke, heart-related diseases, coma, liver disease, malnutrition, ulcers, and more. Psychological conditions may include difficulty with motor control, learning impairment, irritability, anxiety, panic, depression, paranoia, difficulty concentrating, hallucinations, and more. In addition to the many consequences of addiction, memory can greatly be affected.
When someone is addicted, the drugs they take impact the brain’s memory-storage system, also known as the hippocampus. Taking an addictive substance releases dopamine within the brain, causing the person to not only feel pleasure but also to store that good feeling as a memory. As the brain stores this feel-good moment of pleasure from the substance, the brain learns to seek out the substance to continue feeling pleasure. Harvard Medical School states that nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex, when interacting with an addictive substance, work together to change the brain’s thoughts of “liking” the substance to “wanting” it.
Memory is not just impacted when taking an addictive substance, however. Some substances can cause short-term memory loss, such as benzodiazepines, imidazopyridines (serotonin hypnotic drugs), lithium, gabapentin (for nerve-related pain), and ecstasy. Different substances can affect each person differently, and some drugs change the chemicals in the brain, which can also lead to memory loss. Drug abuse, alongside a variety of other factors, can lead to memory loss:
- Depression – mood disorders can cause an inability to focus and lack of attention can result in memory loss.
- Poor nutrition – nutrients are necessary for the brain to properly function and if you are nutrient deficient, this could also be contributing.
- Stress – traumatic events or major changes that bring about stress can be very damaging. Stress can cause memory loss by changing the brain or by inhibiting the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is responsible for retrieving memories.
- Sleep deprivation – lack of adequate sleep can impair cognitive functions, including memory.
- Medications – some medications can cause short-term memory loss; if paired with drugs this is an extremely dangerous combination and could result in severe consequences, including memory loss.
If you have an addiction and are ready to begin your journey towards recovery, call us today at 888-316-3665. New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several mental health and addiction recovery treatment centers. Our licensed, experienced professionals will be there with you every step of the way, and will provide you with the guidance that you need to develop tools to overcome your challenges. Call us for a consultation.