Drug-Induced Amnesia and Addiction Treatment

Our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world depends on having a cohesive narrative of our own history. When drugs interfere with your ability to remember, this narrative becomes disjointed, often causing overwhelming psychological distress. While most drug-induced amnesia is temporary and confined to the period of intoxication, chronic, heavy drug use can cause long-term memory impairments that significantly effect your emotional health and ability to function in daily life. Healing from the impact of drug-induced amnesia requires comprehensive addiction treatment that gives you the tools you need to establish sobriety while nourishing both your emotional and cognitive health.

Missing Memories

The memory formation process depends on maintaining healthy brain function that allows memories to be created and stored for both short-term and long-term access. Certain types of drugs can interfere with this process by blocking the formation of new memories during the period of intoxication, causing a blackout, or a temporary gap in your memory. In some cases, these blackouts leave you with only vague or fragmented memories, while in others they cause a complete erasure of memory during the intoxicated period. Regardless of the type of amnesia you experience, these episodes can be deeply disturbing and cause profound functional impairment.

Drug-induced amnesia does not in and of itself indicate that you are struggling with addiction; social drinkers and moderate recreational drug users can experience amnesiatic episodes on occasion when consuming large quantities of certain substances. Conversely, the absence of drug-induced amnesia isn’t proof that you don’t have a substance addiction; many people with substance use disorders  never experience a blackout. If you are addicted, however, your chronic and escalating substance use increases the likelihood of memory loss and heightens the risk for long-term damage, as your brain is often not given the chance to restore itself fully in between periods of intoxication. As a result, you may begin experiencing memory difficulties even when sober, interfering with your ability to function socially and perform professionally.

While many drugs can interfere with memory, alcohol is the most common culprit in drug-induced amnesia. Other drugs that can cause amnesia include:

  • Marijuana
  • LSD
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates

Using alcohol in combination with other drugs is particularly likely to cause drug-induced amnesia.

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

Drug-induced amnesia can be painful and disorienting, damaging your ability to understand your own experiences and often contributing to psychological distress. Many people who lose memories report feeling overwhelming confusion, anxiety, and depression as the result of both short and long-term memory impairments. If you are experiencing amnesiatic episodes as the result of substance addiction, comprehensive addiction treatment is the best way to create sustainable sobriety, prevent further memory impairments,  and heal from the trauma of memory loss.

Comprehensive addiction treatment seeks to address the full scope of your emotional, cognitive, and physical needs to create true and lasting healing.  For people who struggle with drug-induced cognitive deficits such as memory loss, your treatment should include modalities that seek to strengthen your cognitive function while helping you cope with the emotional ramifications of amnesia. Through an individualized program of evidence-based therapies, you can gain the insight to understand the roots of your addiction and the effect it has had on your life, including the impact of memory loss. Simultaneously, you will develop the concrete skills necessary to make meaningful behavioral changes, promote healthy neurological function, and establish freedom from drugs and alcohol once and for all. Effective treatments plans typically include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • 12-step support groups

Depending on your individual circumstances and the nature of your drug use, pharmacological treatments may also be available to address specific psychiatric symptoms, alleviate withdrawal symptoms, or reduce cravings.

Often, family and friends are a key component of the healing process for people who struggle with addiction in general and drug-induced amnesia in particular. Not only do your loved ones provide a vital protective social network that can buoy you emotionally throughout the recovery process, they can also help you fill in the pieces of missing memories to give you a more full understanding of your experiences. As such, dedicated family programming is often an integral part of your therapeutic process as you seek to reconcile your past and create paths toward a healthier future.

If you would like more information about drug addiction and drug-induced amnesia, or have any questions about addiction treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer support and guidance to help you find the treatment you need to heal from the pain of addiction and create sustainable wellness.