Does Drug Use Affect Memory

Does Drug Use Affect Memory?


We all know that drugs are bad for us and from a young we have been warned about the adverse effects that a chemical substance can have when introduced into the body. A question that many may ask, however, is beside the obvious physical effects, can drug use affect memory?


Memory loss and a lack of concentration is a serious side effect of drug abuse and can affect many aspects of an individual’s personal and professional life. Memory loss is one of the most common side effects of long-term drug abuse. Drugs cause a devastating impact on your prospective memory. Prospective memory is found in the part of the brain that helps you to remember important things. Loss of this function will often leave people anxious with a feeling that they have forgotten to do something, making it almost impossible for them to remember, organize, plan, or multi-task.


Not only do drugs affect memory but they also can make it extremely hard for a person to learn, improve skills, remember new concepts, and can even go so far as to cause a person to not be able to focus on what is happening around them. This is an extremely hard pill to swallow if you are not able to perform daily functions such as driving, working, or caring for your family, In turn, this can cause devastating and unchangeable circumstances in an addict’s life.

The Science Behind How Drug Use Affects Memory

It is important to note that the parts of the brain that are affected by addiction overlap with the part of the brain that maintains cognitive function in human beings. Cognitive function can be described as a person’s ability to learn, remember, and reason.


When illicit substances are introduced to these parts of the brain, they can start to foster extremely strong and destructive associations between drug use and environmental stimuli. This is essentially what causes a person’s cravings and unstoppable drug-seeking behavior. Continued drug use eventually causes cognitive defects that significantly affect a person’s ability to abstain from their drug of choice.


Those who are particularly susceptible to this occurrence are:

1.) The Basal Ganglia

The Basal Ganglia is in charge of making up the reward function within the brain and is the part of the brain that develops the formation of routines and habits both good and bad.

2.) The Extended Amygdala

This part of the brain is directly involved in the feelings that a person gets during their dependence on drugs. These feelings include stress, anxiety, and depression, especially during the withdrawal process.

3.) The Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is what enables individuals to reach higher cognitive functions such as impulse control and decision making.

How Drugs Affect the Brain

Neurotransmitters are chemical messages that the brain uses to pass information between brain cells One of the most common neurotransmitters is a substance that the brain secretes called dopamine. Dopamine activates pleasurable feelings.


Once this has happened the brain naturally rids the body of the excess dopamine which brings the feelings of pleasure to an end. Unfortunately, when it comes to drugs the same process does not happen.


Surprisingly the various active ingredients in drugs and other substances are almost the same as the structure of the brain’s neurotransmitters!


Under normal circumstances, neurotransmitters attach themselves to a few receptors in the brain to pass on information. When it comes to the active ingredients in drugs, however, the active ingredients almost exactly resemble dopamine and are also able to bind to the same receptors of the brain.


When using drugs, the brain releases an intense amount of dopamine but due to the molecule make-up of the drugs the brain is unable to get rid of the excess dopamine. This is because the molecules in the drug have blocked the brains’ ability to naturally stop the feelings of pleasure.


This results in the body feeling pleasure for an extended period and promotes what we call addiction

The Stages of Drug Abuse and Cognitive Decline

Addiction is often characterized by a two-phase process.

Phase One

This is the first stage and is when occasional drug taking starts to become a lot more uncontrolled. These symptoms are caused by the brain’s reward system that has been compromised by the drug that is being taken.


In normal situations, the brain increases the production of dopamine to induce pleasurable feelings during non-drug-related activities.


Drugs cause this system in the brain to release a larger amount of dopamine and produce intense pleasure that makes the user want more and more. When the feeling wears off the individual will almost always want to seek out more to regain the same feelings.

Phase Two

The second phase of this process is when the person starts to present with additional physical symptoms such as withdrawal symptoms, flawed decision making, and other cognitive declines.


The Retreat of Atlanta Drug and Alcohol Detox Rehab Center offers you a unique drug and alcohol detox rehab experience and an opportunity to start again. Inpatient drug and alcohol detox rehabilitation allows for the removal of stress and other triggers that may slow your recovery and continue the cycle of addiction. Our team will provide you with the structure you require so that you can build a life free of the burdens of alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness.

Opioid Long-Term Use and Brain Injury

Opioid addicts are at a very high risk of overdosing due to all the synthetics that are pumped into the drugs and made available on the street of Atlanta. Once a person has overdosed on opioids, they start to develop a dangerous form of respiratory depression. If this is not treated in time it will result in hypoxia-related conditions.


Hypoxia can be described as not enough oxygen being released to the cells of the body and if left long enough can result in multiple forms of brain injury. These brain injuries can include but are not limited to the following:

Alcohol: Long Term Use and Effects on the Brain

Alcohol addiction often results in extremely poor nutrition and can lead to a deficiency in vitamin B1 otherwise known as thiamine. Unfortunately, this can have severe consequences on the human brain and causes a disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disorder that is caused by a deficiency of thiamine.


 Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome symptoms can include the following:

Apart from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome alcohol abuse can lead to, slower reaction times, memory loss, and eventual brain shrinkage.


Alcohol abuse in a pregnant woman can also be extremely harmful to the developing brain of the fetus and can result in the child being born with a range of problems in both the behavioral and learning spectrum.


Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that can cause the child to have distinct facial features, smaller brains, and fewer brain cells leaving them unable to thrive or function properly.


The staff at The Retreat of Atlanta, are well aware of the many uncomfortable physical feelings that happen during detox from drugs and alcohol. Our modern detox facilitates located in Eatonton, GA are intimate, and our drug and alcohol detox staff is trained to cater to every individual’s unique needs.


At The Retreat of Atlanta, we know all the different ways that detoxing from drugs and alcohol can affect you.  This is why our trained addiction treatment center technicians work with the individual to achieve a solid foundation for that individual’s sobriety.


The Retreat of Atlanta allows the individual to partake in addiction treatment programs and addiction treatment therapy. Setting you or your loved one up for success.

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