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Can Opium Affect My Memory?

Can Opium Affect My Memory?Opium poppy is a flowering plant from which all opiates are made. The plant’s narcotic elements are typically synthesized into heroin, morphine, or prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin. Though less common, opium can also be consumed in its original tar-like state. Individuals consume raw opium in different ways, including the following:

  • Add opium to a marijuana joint and smoke it
  • Dissolve the tar and then inject it like heroin
  • Heat the opium on a spoon and inhale it with a straw
  • Ingest orally for a gradually escalating high

Whether in its original or synthesized form, all opiates are highly addictive, and their use seriously impacts the brain and memory.

Opiate Memory Loss

Whether smoked, injected, or ingested, opiates cause memory loss in several ways, including the following:

  • Depresses the central nervous system and limits its regular function
  • Inhibits the naturally occurring production of dopamine, which plays a role in memory
  • Affects the brain’s ability to create and store new memories

Problems with creating and storing memories result in anterograde amnesia in which the opiate user struggles to recall the recent past without losing touch with long-term memories. This contrasts with the more commonly known retrograde amnesia in which recent events are recalled but not distant memories.

Long-Term Cognitive Effects

Some form of short-term amnesia occurs with all users, but long-term abuse more seriously affects how the brain stores memories. “The Effect of Heroin on Verbal Memory,” a 2011 clinical study published on the US National Institutes of Health website, found that abuse lasting more than a year had profound memory effects, including the following:

  • The impairment of the brain’s cerebral structures
  • Defects in the cognitive and connative areas
  • Profound deficit in direct verbal memory
  • Learning curves become increasing flat

The study ultimately determined that long-term abuse causes deep damage to neural structures and affects the brain’s ability to store memory, adapt, and learn.

Memory Lapse Dangers

Opium-related memory issues can result in numerous risks, including the following:

  • More difficulty tracking use and avoiding overdoses
  • Substantial increase in the risk of accidents and injuries
  • Problems recalling important facts and information
  • General negligence in fulfilling critical responsibilities

In addition to memory issues, opiates increase the user’s willingness to engage in risky behaviors, which adds even more danger to the drug use. 

Opiate Addiction Treatment

Memory loss is a side effect of opiate abuse, but life-threatening overdoses and respiratory failures are the ultimate threat. The risks are too high to let opiate abuse go untreated. Professional rehab can help break the addiction with time-tested treatments that include the following:

  • Tapered detox that gradually weans the opiates from the system
  • Integrated treatments for concurrent mental health disorders
  • Identification of people, places, and emotions that trigger opiate cravings
  • Behavioral therapies that improve the way a patient thinks and responds
  • Holistic treatments to reduce withdrawal symptoms and improve memory
  • Group counseling to build recovery support and express feelings

An opiate addiction might feel overwhelming, but it is a treatable condition with proper care. Let the professionals help.

Addiction Help Now

Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to learn more about opiate side effects, addiction signs, and treatment options. If you have health insurance, our counselors can also check your policy for coverage. The longer the abuse continues the more damage it does, so please call now.