Does Methamphetamine Affect Learning and Memory Capabilities?

man with methamphetamine addictionThose with methamphetamine addiction may find difficulties with recognizing and predicting loss, as well as other efforts involved in decision making. Rita Goldstein, part of a research team that conducted a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience regarding how cocaine affects the brain, stated: “We see that everywhere, from basic survival – getting food and avoiding the poisonous stuff – to relationships and work in the modern world. If people cannot predict losses, their long-term planning…will be very different. This loss might be contributing a downward spiral in [those with addiction].”

In August of 2018, researchers from the University of California San Diego reviewed what has currently been done in our understanding of meth use and its effects on memory and learning thus far. The hippocampus in particular is a region of the brain that is responsible for memory storage, consolidation of memories and pulling long and short-term memories into recollection. When meth is used, an influx of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical), can actually alter the structure of the hippocampus as it stores memories of the substance and sparks cravings for it. As MethProject.org states, meth also affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which makes it more difficult for individuals to think rationally.

With such significant effects on the brain, can these damages be reversed?

It truly depends on the person and how severe their addiction is. The overall health of a person can definitely improve over time if recovery is maintained, but some functions may take a very long time (up to several years) or may not recover fully if the addiction was severe. If you or a loved one have battled meth addiction in the past, work towards recovery today. The sooner you begin the journey towards recovery, the sooner you can be on your way towards a healthier mind, body and spirit.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

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Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.

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