In relation to emotional effects, both short and long-term addiction can cause a decline in cognitive function. The areas of the brain that control emotions are also responsible to processing and storing old and new memories. This is why it is easier for us to remember certain events when they have a strong emotional impact.
However, because substances alter how the brain normally works, memories may not be accurately saved or recalled. Worse yet, certain substances can actually damage brain cells and function.
For example, alcohol has an inhibitory effect on the brain. In addition, toxic byproducts of alcohol breakdown can build up and kill brain cells. These lead to the well-known effects such as difficulty standing or walking, slurred speech, and the dreaded hangover. Other effects include “blacking out” or waking up the next day not remembering what happened.
Occasional use can cause these signs and symptoms temporarily. However, chronic and heavy use can cause permanent brain damage.
Lastly, are the behavioral changes brought about by addiction. Changes in a person’s behavior is one of the major signs that friends and family members will notice first. People with addictions are sometimes seen as “a completely different person,” and not usually in the best way.
For example, a high-performing student that turns to cigarettes in order to cope with stress may seem normal at first. However, they may become more secretive to hide their substance use. Over time, they may become on edge or irritable at family gatherings where they cannot step away in order to smoke. If their friends do not smoke and try to stop them from smoking, they may stop spending time with them or find friends that also smoke.