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Addiction Impacts Memory and Learning; Influenced by Patient’s Environment, Experts Say

August 27, 2019
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Environmental cues have an impact on addiction. It also has an influence on a person’s learning and memory. There is no doubt that addiction has psychological effects, and it can, therefore, affect a person on a cognitive level, especially those with severe addiction and drug dependence.

Learning more about the interactions between addictive substances and the brain can help enhance the process of recovering from addiction.

For example, a person’s surroundings can trigger certain memories associated with addiction and substance abuse. Visiting the same neighborhood where a person used to drink could make them want to drink. Walking down the same street a person used to smoke on can trigger memories that could make them want to light up. The sight of a smoking area may trigger smoking, which in turn, can make a person who smokes feel good temporarily.

So this means the environment can, in some cases, contribute to relapse. This is interesting because many people associate their surroundings with the development stage of their addiction. A person who grew up with parents who didn’t moderate their own drinking habits is more likely to do the same.

Memories can also trigger a relapse. When a person enters a restaurant, exposure to food boosts their appetite, even if they are already full. This is similar to how addiction causes reward pathways to be triggered when coming into contact with familiar sensations, memories, and experiences.

This emphasizes the importance of inpatient treatment for those with severe addiction. A focused program that puts a patient in an entirely new environment can be beneficial. It can help them overcome their addiction and get sober again.

Behavioral therapy also plays an important role, because it teaches new coping mechanisms, and changes the patient’s mindset about their addiction. This means they will be better equipped when facing their triggers in the real world once they step out of the rehab facility.

When a person is addicted, such environmental cues trigger reward pathways. This is what makes it very hard to resist cravings. These pathways also involve the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasurable activities. This feel-good sensation is what makes certain substances so addictive in the first place. It is also the reason why certain drugs have a high risk of abuse, despite having medical benefits.

Dopamine, however, also plays a crucial role in learning and motivation. Older studies have shown that the absence of dopamine causes mice to have learning difficulties. It also made it more difficult for them to remember new things.

An addicted individual will often be overexcited by excessive dopamine, and this could have adverse effects on the learning process as well as memories. Click the link to see Binghamton's top rehab placement programs.

Studies have shown that addiction-related environmental cues activate brain areas associated with emotional processing. These cues also activate brain areas that are in charge of the response to stimuli. Previous studies have demonstrated that cocaine and nicotine can enhance long term memory formation.

While the memory-strengthening effects of addiction can make it harder to recover from the condition, researchers are interested in digging deeper so that they could understand how to tweak cognitive behavioral therapy and make them more effective.

If someone in the family is struggling with opioid addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against drug abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.



SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]

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