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Substance Use

Excessive and/or chronic substance use can have a substantial effect on neuropsychological functioning. Substance use disorders are mainly classified into two categories: Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence. Substance abuse is where there is clear and direct harm arising from substance use. In Substance Dependence, a person requires more and more of a substance to achieve the same level of intoxication and experiences withdrawal symptoms when they have not taken the substance for some time. Both of these disorders can result in neuropsychological impairment, most of which depends on the substance(s) that have been used.

Alcohol Related Cognitive Impairment

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the western world. Significant chronic alcohol use results in diminished cognition over time, even when a person is sober. A severe and irreversible result of significant long-term alcohol consumption is the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This syndrome results in a dramatic loss of ability to learn and remember new information, amongst other cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Those with the syndrome have clear physical brain changes, particularly to the mammillary bodies, which are essential structures in the memory network.

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