Exclusive Cognitive Disorder and Substance Abuse Addiction Programs
How Does Drug Use Affect the Brain?
Cognitive problems, such as problems remembering things, can be caused by drug use, diseases, or accidents. Although symptoms of cognitive disorders can fade after drug use, some of these effects may remain after drugs have left your system. A doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis of a disorder through a series of tests and recommend treatment.
Your brain is more than just a tangle of grey material locked inside your skull. Your brain is the most powerful computer you’ll access, able to process information coming from all directions and provide clear instructions for the rest of your body to follow. While you probably never intended to do anything to hurt such a powerful part of your body, many people do damage their brains due to alcohol or drug use.
Many more endure brain damage due to issues that are out of their control, such as diseases or accidents. All of these problems can cause cognitive disorders, or difficulty with thinking clearly.
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Having a cognitive disorder can be irritating or even frightening. There is reason to be hopeful, however. Many people with cognitive disorders can and do get better with treatment, and researchers are learning more every day about how these disorders come about, and how they can be prevented. In addition, there are some things you can do at home to help improve the condition you’re facing.
A Quick Description
Could It Happen to You?
Link to Substance Abuse
If you abuse alcohol or drugs, you probably experience a form of cognitive disorder when you’re under the influence. Drugs and alcohol numb parts of the brain, while allowing other parts to function at a normal or elevated rate, which often results in a series of strange behaviors. You might slur your words, act erratically, move in unusual ways or have an inability to remember details about your life. As the drugs and alcohol moved out of your system, however, these symptoms probably left too. That doesn’t mean, however, that the abuse left behind no traces. In fact, long-term abuse of alcohol and some drugs can cause cognitive disorders.
Certain drugs cause chemical changes in the brain that can persist long after the drugs are gone. Those changes can make it harder for you to perform basic memory tasks, and they might even make it difficult for you to make good decisions. For example, researchers writing for the journal Trends in Cognitive Science tried to understand why 80 percent of people with addictions don’t receive the treatment they need in order to heal. In the end, these researchers determined that addictions cause problems in the part of the brain that controls impulses and behavior. These deficits could keep addicts from understanding their own addictions. They don’t realize the conditions are serious, and therefore, they don’t get the help they need. It’s a form of cognitive disorder.
In a small study published in the journal Addiction, researchers tested the cognitive ability of people who abused heroin and people who did not. The heroin users performed poorly in tests of both long- and short-term memory, and if they had used alcohol or overdosed on heroin previously, their scores were even lower, when compared to people who never used heroin.
The Link to Mental Health
At Your Appointment
Your doctor might begin by giving you a complete and thorough physical exam, including blood work. Some cognitive problems are caused by completely curable issues, like a lack of vitamins or dehydration. If those problems are found, your doctor can provide you with treatments to turn those issues around. Some other medical issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can also cause cognitive problems. While there might not be quick fixes for those issues, they certainly can be treated and after therapy, your memory and cognitive ability very well may improve. Your doctor might also order scans of your brain, just to make sure there are no injuries there.
At the end of this appointment, you’ll have a significant amount of information about what is causing your cognitive disorder, how it may have come about and how it might be treated. Armed with this information, you can pull together a treatment plan that might include medication, therapy or both. It’s the best way to help you deal with the damage that has already occurred, and prevent further damage from taking place.