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Hi, we are concerned parents. Our son has been a drug addict for a year. We were not aware about his problem until recently. In the last month he just couldn't remember anything. Not even the things that were on his regular daily schedule. On top of that he also started having mood swings. His behavior was noticed by everybody in his surroundings. Some days ago we busted in his room and saw a terrible thing. He was lying in bed covered by sweat and shaking. We knew what was going on and decided to do what every parent would. We sent him to rehab center. Could you tell us if he can be cured and will his abuse of the drug have a permanent damage on his mental health?

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Hi, it is a good thing that you found out about your son's addiction. Judging from his symptoms he was an opiate abuser. Opiate derivates cause changes in brains that are manifested as obliviousness. You have done the best thing for him by sending him to a rehabilitation centre. There he is under constant supervision of professional therapists who can help him with the withdrawal symptoms. The centre also has programs that could help your son to stay of drugs permanently if he has the will for it. As for his mental health, opiate drugs permanently destroy brain cells that are responsible for learning and memory. That is why he was so forgetful. The centre will determine how much of his brain has been damaged by the opiates. The therapists at the centre will also find the best treatment to recover your son’s brain activities as much as possible.
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I would really like to see any firm research on the statement that opiates destroy any brain cells at all. I've read up on the effects for years and everything I've seen pointed to nothing more than opiod receptor "switching" to make it simple, and apart from addictive potential, much less harmful than even alcohol overall. In fact, my understanding is that the most common danger of opiods (concerning pills) is the necrotic effects on the liver of the APAP (tylenol) that's formulated into most pills, when the amount begins to exceed 5000mg APAP/day. If you seriously have scientific research suggestiong actual brain damage from a tolerable dose of opiods themselves, I would honestly love to read it.
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Alfonso is well intentioned but a bit misinformed. Long term opiate abuse is most often associated with the following medical conditions:

- glaucoma (permanent)
- pituitary suppression resulting in hypogonadicism and low testosterone
(can be either permanent or temporary)
- calcium deficiency often affecting the knee (usually temporary)
- anhedonia, which can sometimes last for months or years

While there is one particular study suggesting that hard-core heroin addicts with many years of abuse under their belts may suffer some brain damage as a result of their abuse, there is no credible evidence suggesting that an opiate addiction of only a few years causes neuronal destruction.

That said, Alfonse is correct that even relatively short term addictions can cause brain changes - although they tend to be behavioral rather than cognitive. Some of the behaviors, such as lethargy, forgetfulness, irritability and mental fog, are temporary and clear up after sustained abstinance. However, there are some permanent changes in the brain's amygdyla which tend to pre-dispose even long recovered addicts to relapse. This is also found to be the case with alcoholics and long-term smokers. Therefore most recovering addicts and alcoholics find it necessary to adopt a permanent life-style change, including regular self-help meetings.
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meetings arent for everyone.
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