Drugs and their effect on the human cognitive psyche Essay

In this literature review paper, I would like to review the correlation between chronic drug abuse in adolescence and the decrease in cognitive functioning in adolescence through early adulthood. I have found several articles that examine and formulate thoughts and opinions through studies and an analysis of prior research studies and research journals. While using the research studies and journals that I have found, I would like to target and examine the direction of the correlation between drug abuse in adolescence and the decrease in cognitive functioning throughout adolescence and early adulthood. Are adolescents who have suffered from drug abuse at risk for complications in their cognitive abilities, or do they somehow end up on an equal level with those who haven?t suffered from a drug addiction? If either of these statements is true, I want try and understand why through logical means. I will summarize the perspective and the outcome of recent studies and evaluate the importance of their findings. I will also review several techniques for combating adolescent drug abuse and how to alleviate some of the pressure from adolescents who are currently abusing drugs. There are many popular drugs amongst the community of adolescents of today. One of these popular drugs that have a large impact on cognitive brain functioning is Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (?Ecstacy?) or MDMA as its abbreviated name (Johnston et al., 2009). MDMA is a drug that is used to reduce the brain serotonin (5-HT) axonal markers. This reduction of these 5-HT axonal markers causes a loss of inhibition
in many users and also causes a euphoric feeling that causes the user to feel often times ?fully orgasmic? to the touch and in tune with the ?levels of the world? (Mechan et al., 2006; Green et al., 2003). MDMA has been a popular drug that has been on a rise for the past 20-30 years. Ever since its birth it has spread through the party and nightlife community like wildfire. It has only become accessible and sought after by adolescents in the past 10 years. The rise in the allure of MDMA can be attributed to its distribution methods (Johnston et al., 2009).
In Una D. McCann et al. study, ?Sleep Deprivation Differently Impairs Cognitive Performance in Abstinent Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (?Ecstacy?) Users,? it is expressed that, ?… MDMA users have been found to have subtle cognitive deficits?? (2009). This group of researchers sought to test a hypothesis that sleep disturbance plays a role in cognitive deficits in MDMA and abstinent MDMA users. The study used nineteen abstinent MDMA users and 21 control subjects too participate in a five-day inpatient study in a clinical research laboratory. Cognitive performance was tested three times daily using a computerized cognitive battery. On the third day of admission, subjects were asked to begin a 40 hour sleep deprivation period and continued cognitive testing as usual consisting of the same daily schedule. These tests found that MDMA users performed less accurately than controls on a task of working memory and more impulsively on four of the seven computerized tests. During the phase of sleep deprivation, MDMA users, but not the controls, became increasingly impulsive, performing more rapidly with a greater number of mistakes towards the tasks of working and short-term memory. This particular research study?s findings were the first to
demonstrate that memory problems in MDMA users and abstinent MDMA users may be related and suggest that cognitive deficits in MDMA users may become more prominent in situations associated with an increase in sleep deprivation (McCann et al., 2009). This research study showed the correlation between drug usage (MDMA), sleep deprivation, and cognitive functioning (memory).
Another drug that has a correlational effect with cognitive functions is Methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive psychostimulant, with epidemic increases in use of this drug recorded globally (Meredith et al., 2005). Numerous studies have shown that methamphetamine disrupts neurotransmitter and other brain functions; in particular the ?dopaminergic system, although changes in serotonergic, noradrenergic, and gluta- matergic function are also observed? (Meredith et al., 2005). Methamphetamine is known by many street names including: meth, ice, frost, and crystal meth. Methamphetamine is thought of as one of the worst drugs in all of human history for the effects it has had on society as a whole. Many regard crystal meth to be the reason we live in the corrupt world we live in today (Henry et al., 2008).

In Julie D. Henry et al. study, ?Prospective Memory Impairment in Former Users of Methamphetamine,? it is discussed the effects that methamphetamine have on human cognitive function. The cognitive function that is addressed in this research study is memory. The premise of the study is based around the idea that considerable prior research indicates that methamphetamine use is associated with neuro-cognitive impairment, but no empirical study to date has assessed whether these difficulties extend prospective memory. The study reviewed prospective performance on a laboratory
measure of prospective memory that closely represents the types of prospective memory tasks that actually occur in life and provides an opportunity to study the different sorts of prospective memory mistakes that occur. The study consisted of twenty adults with a history of methamphetamine use and dependence, currently engaged in rehabilitation and abstinent for an average period of 6 months, and 20 individuals who were unknown to the effects or the experience of methamphetamine. Various other aspects of cognitive function were also assessed, including retrospective memory and executive functioning. Methamphetamine users were significantly impaired during the time the test was administered, and these deficits did not vary as a member of specific prospective memory task demands. Of all the cognitive functions being tested, cognitive inhibition shared greatest variance with group effects on the prospective memory measure. This study concludes that prospective memory performance correlates with previous methamphetamine use even well into abstinence. Methamphetamine users experience generalized difficulties with prospective memory, suggesting that these deficits are likely to have important implications for day-to-day functioning. The results indicated that methamphetamine users were significantly impaired on measures of retrospective memory and executive. This study showed a positive correlation between methamphetamine use/addiction and a decrease in general cognitive functioning, more specifically memory and any activities that require the memory as a basis of use (Henry et al., 2008).

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