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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848

Health SA Gesondheid (Online) vol.17 n.1 Cape Town  2012




A comparative study of the effects of methamphetamine on memory in existing and recovering addicts from a South African population



Cindy van Wyk; Anita D. Stuart

Department of Psychology, University of Johannesburg, South Africa





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.


Geheue is 'n komplekse sisteem wat 'n individu in staat stel om blootstelling aan 'n voorval of ervarings te registreer, stoor, behou en herroep. Leer- en geheueprobleme is van die mees algemene simptome van neurosielkundige uitvalle in neurologiese en psigiatriese pasiënte. Die literatuur dui aan dat metamfetamienafhanklike verbruikers tipies geheuedisfunksie ervaar. Die doel van die navorsing was om die moontlike voorkoms van verskille in geheuefunksie in huidige gebruikers van metamfetamien, rehabiliterende gebruikers, sowel as 'n kontrolegroep van dwelmmiddel-naïewe demografies-passende individue te bepaal. Uitvoerende funksie is gemeet met 'n neurokognitiewe toetsbattery wat die geheuefunksies van 14 huidige gebruikers van metamfetamien, 17 rehabiliterende metamfetamienverslaafde individue en 18 dwelmmiddel-naïewe deelnemers, gepas in terme van ouderdom, geslag en opvoedkundige status, bepaal het. Die resultate dui aan dat dat die rehabiliterende metamfetamiengebruikers die grootste geheueuitvalle getoon het in vergelyking met sowel die huidige gebruikers as die kontrolegroep. Die huidige metamfetamiengebruikers het ook matige geheueuitvalle getoon, spesifiek in visuele leer en retensie. Dit is moontlik dat die geheueuitvalle wat deur metamfetamiengebruikers ervaar word, verband hou met strukturele en funksionele verandering in die breingebiede wat met geheue geassosieer word, as gevolg van metamfetamienvergiftiging. Die swak prestasie van die rehabiliterende metamfetamienverslaafde persone in vergelyking met die huidige gebruikers word verduidelik in terme van die naasmekaarstelling van die stimulerende en aanvullende effek van metamfetamien soos ervaar deur die huidige gebruikers versus die neurotransmitteruitputting en strukturele breinveranderinge in die rehabiliterende individue. Die kontrolegroep het 'n beter resultaat getoon omdat hulle geen neurotoksiese effekte van metamfetamien gehad het nie.



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Cindy van Wyk
PO Box 953
Rivonia 2128
South Africa

Received: 07 July 2011
Accepted: 10 Apr. 2012
Published: 16 July 2012

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