Cocaine and Memory Loss: What’s the Connection?

Cocaine and Memory Loss: What’s the Connection?

Cocaine is not only an addictive drug but it can also be extremely dangerous. There are many short-term and long-term effects of cocaine use. One of the main effects of cocaine is memory loss. Cocaine is one of the many illegal drugs that cause memory loss as time goes on. This drug indirectly causes memory loss and other symptoms as well. While short-term effects can be reversed, some long-term effects of cocaine use can be permanent.

Among some of the more serious symptoms of cocaine use, comes the risk of memory loss down the line. As a person continues to use cocaine, their body becomes more and more dependent on it. As a result, the connection between cocaine and memory loss (among other problems) becomes clear. If you or a loved one is suffering from cocaine addiction, it’s important to get help before it’s too late.

What Does Cocaine Do to Your Brain?

To truly understand the dangers and effects of cocaine, it’s important to understand what cocaine does to your brain. As with other potent drugs like cocaine, the substance affects the brain’s reward system. Cocaine also affects other functions like how their body/brain responds to stress. Over time, cocaine addiction can affect different parts of the brain as a person develops a dependence on the drug.

Addictive drugs like cocaine tend to mess with the reward/pleasure system in a person’s brain. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, is usually affected by addictive drugs. This is where dependence and addiction develop since the body seeks to repeat the same sensation. Over time, a person may grow tolerant to cocaine’s effects which forces them to use more. This often leads to serious mental and physical health damages.

Cocaine and Short-Term Memory Loss

Cocaine use has been shown to affect a person’s cognitive functions. In a study conducted by the NIH, cocaine was seen to affect a person’s memory and thinking skills negatively. In the study, a group of 57 people using cocaine was compared to a group of 48 people not using cocaine. Each group was followed for a year and then given cognitive tests (before and after) to see any changes.

After the year was over, the group not using cocaine showed some signs of improvement in certain areas. On the other hand, the group who used cocaine showed a much worse performance in almost all areas. One of these areas was working memory (short-term memory). This study is a good example of the negative effects that cocaine can have on a person’s brain and the connection between cocaine and memory loss.

Fortunately, those who stopped using cocaine after the study managed to repair some of the cognitive damage that was caused by substance use. Unfortunately, there are many cases where a person does not successfully quit using cocaine. Getting the necessary treatment is vital to avoiding further brain/physical damage and living a better life.

What are the Symptoms of Short-Term Memory Loss?

Short-term memory loss can be a hint of what’s to come if a person continues using cocaine. There are several signs and effects that come from using cocaine on a regular basis. Cocaine is one of the many illegal drugs that cause memory loss in the short and long term. Some of the effects of short-term memory loss include:

  • Mood swings and changes
  • Forgetting common/regular words
  • Taking longer to finish regular/familiar tasks
  • Repeating the same question multiple times
  • Misplacing items (wallet, common items, clothing, etc.)
  • Mixing common phrases and words (ex: bed and drawer)

Cocaine and Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term memory loss is much more problematic and develops differently than short-term memory loss does. While cocaine in itself doesn’t directly cause long-term memory damage, there are severe long-term effects that can lead to permanent brain damage and long-term memory loss.

It can all stem from clots in a person’s vascular system, which includes the body’s veins and arteries. Clots usually take years to form but cocaine increases the speed of clot build-up when compared to normal people. These clots end up building up in a vein and can end up moving to other parts of a person’s body. Clots can cause heart attacks and other severe complications like strokes and pulmonary embolism.

Strokes can be caused by clots that get stuck in a person’s brain. Clots stop oxygen from getting to various areas of the brain; over time these areas end up dying. These dead brain cells can end up causing severe and permanent damage, particularly memory loss. For this reason, many conclusions have been made from the connection between cocaine and memory loss. Apart from memory loss, there are many dangerous and severe risks of using cocaine on a frequent basis.

What are the Symptoms of Long-Term Memory Loss?

Being addicted to cocaine and using it on a frequent basis can end up causing strokes, which in turn result in memory loss. There are several signs and symptoms of long-term memory loss. Memory loss as a result of a stroke is usually permanent. Effects include:Cocaine and Short Term Memory Loss

  • Lack of attention
  • Slowed movement and thinking
  • Struggling or failing to do simple tasks

Along with long-term memory loss comes a number of other permanent effects associated with a stroke. These can include the following:

  • Depth perception issues
  • Unable to recognize body parts
  • Struggling to read, write, or learn
  • Paralysis and sensory impairment
  • Visual impairments (blindness in one eye)
  • Depression and other behavioral or mental health challenges

While getting professional help and stopping cocaine use can reverse some of the short-term cognitive problems, these negative effects are permanent. This is why it’s extremely important to get quality help as soon as possible. Over time, clots can begin to form which can end up causing serious, permanent damage – one of which is memory loss. With this clear connection between cocaine and memory loss, it’s important to act fast.

Spotting Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Cocaine is one of the many illegal drugs that cause memory loss as well as other negative effects. If a person is suffering from cocaine addiction, it’s important to get professional treatment from a center like Free by the Sea. Memory loss is just one of the many severe impacts that continuous cocaine use can have on a person. There are several signs that can indicate cocaine abuse or addiction. If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, don’t hesitate to get proper help:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Isolating themselves
  • Financial and legal troubles
  • An unexplained surge of energy
  • Making excuses or lying about drug use
  • Engaging in risky and impulsive behaviors
  • Troubles in a person’s relationship or home life
  • Continuing to use cocaine even if it is causing harm
  • Missing important events or deadline because of cocaine use
  • Decrease in performance or ignoring responsibilities at home, school, or work

These are just a few red flags that can indicate a potential cocaine addiction in a loved one. The behavioral signs don’t account for the countless health issues associated with frequent cocaine use.

Cocaine Abuse Treatment at Free by the Sea

Spotting Cocaine Abuse and AddictionFortunately, several treatment programs at Free by the Sea can help a person overcome their cocaine addiction. The quicker a person takes the first step towards sobriety, the higher chance they have of recovering before permanent damage can take place. There are several different types of treatment, some of which may be better than others, depending on the person and the severity of their addiction. At the end of the day, what matters is that a person takes the first step towards sobriety.

Free by the Sea offers treatment for cocaine addiction and other drug addictions. We’ll help you through the process to ensure that you get the proper treatment you need to overcome addiction. Some of our treatment options include the following:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is best for those who are suffering from moderate to severe addictions. A person typically stays in a rehab center for a period of time (depending on the addiction and the person). During their stay, a person will follow a personalized and set schedule every day. They will have access to 24/7 support and help from passionate and qualified staff. Inpatient treatment is often necessary because of the consistency and availability of help, no matter what time of day.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is more flexible and better for those who are dealing with milder cases of cocaine addiction. This type of treatment involves only weekly visits to a rehab center, instead of actually living there. This is great for those who have school, work, kids, and other obligations to take care of on a regular basis. Those with more severe cases of cocaine addiction should stick with inpatient treatment for better results.


Therapy is an important part of all addiction treatment cases. Speaking with a professional counselor or therapist can set up a person for success in the present and future. Understanding why a person began using cocaine in the first place while teaching them coping skills can be a great benefit. At Free by the Sea, we offer experienced therapists/counselors that are ready to help at a moment’s notice.

Don’t Wait; Get Help Today!

Now that you know the connection between cocaine and memory loss, it’s important to get help before it’s too late. Free by the Sea is here to help you or a loved one overcome addiction safely and effectively. Cocaine and drug addiction don’t have to ruin your life. Contact us today to get started on your journey towards recovery.

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