Heroin Addiction and the Brain – How the Drug Impairs Memory

The brain might be an organ, but it also works like a muscle. When you exercise your brain by learning, studying, and stimulating it, it will grow stronger. People who support their brains through healthy lifestyles are more likely to have better memories and fewer issues with memory loss as they age. Street drugs like heroin can literally wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy brain and cause the mind to deteriorate fast. Ask yourself how long does a heroin high last? The answer is a few minutes at best. For most people, it simply wouldn’t be worth it to ruin your mind for a few minutes of ‘fun.’ The problem is the fact that the mind of addicts just works differently. Here are the ways that a chemical dependence on heroin can impact the human brain.

What Happens to the Brain the First Time Heroin Is Taken

Knowing what you know about how dangerous heroin is, you probably believe you wouldn’t make the mistake of trying it. Then again, no one can be addicted to the drug before they actually try it. Once it is introduced into the body, the brain immediately reacts. The side effects of heroin cause a massive rush of ‘feel good’ chemicals to go to the brain. Suddenly, nothing matters more than getting your next heroin fix. Taking heroin just once usually causes the user to become instantly addicted.

The Brain Changes When a Heroin Addiction Develops

Healthy human brains keep everything in balance. When you are hungry, your brain sends signals to let you know that it’s time to eat. When you get tired, your brain reacts by making you feel groggy and lethargic. After a heroin addiction develops, all of this changes. Your brain won’t be sending you the same cues that help you to make sane and rational decisions. Instead of feeling that it is important to get up for work in the morning so that you can get to your job on time, your brain will tell you to find more heroin. Simply put, heroin addicts don’t think the same way that people without addictions to opioids do.

How Addiction Beats Out All Other Factors

At first, a heroin addiction can be ‘managed.’ At least that’s what addicts tend to tell themselves. They might only use it a few times a week or be able to hide their drug problems from work colleagues. Addicts can still be very functional in the very beginning, but the more that they take heroin, the more that they want to get high again and again. This is the reason why heroin addicts generally lose weight and stop caring for themselves. Their need to obtain more heroin is stronger than any other physical need or desire.

After years of being addicted to heroin, memories will fade. Addicts have more and more trouble recalling recent events. The good news is that addictions can be overcome, and the brain can start to repair itself. If you are addicted to heroin, you should work on recovering so that you can help to retain your memory.

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