Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848
VAN WYK, Cindy and STUART, Anita D.. A comparative study of the effects of methamphetamine on memory in existing and recovering addicts from a South African population. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.1, pp.1-9. ISSN 2071-9736.
Memory is a complex of systems by which an organism registers, stores and retrieves exposure to an event or experience. Literature purports that methamphetamine users and dependents have been found to exhibits signs of memory impairment. The aim of the research was to establish the possible existence of significant differences in memory in current methamphetamine users, recovering methamphetamine users, and a matched drug naïve control group. Cognitive functioning was assessed via a neurocognitive test battery that examined the memory of 14 current methamphetamine users, 17 recovering methamphetamine addicts, and 18 drug naïve control participants who were matched according to the demographic variables of age, gender and educational status. The results indicated that recovering methamphetamine users experienced the greatest impairment in memory in comparison to both the control group and current users of methamphetamine. The current users of methamphetamine also experienced some impairment in memory functioning in visual acquisition and retention. The poor performance of the recovering addicts is explained by the juxtaposition of the stimulating and supplemental effect of methamphetamine as experienced by the current users versus the neurotransmitter depletion and structural changes in the brain experienced by the recovering addicts. The control group showed a superior performance since they did not suffer from the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine.