Executive Functions Most Affected by Addiction.

By O'Connor Professional Group

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Executive functioning is a skill based function we are born with.  The frontal lobe of our brain is responsible for executive functioning. It allows you to be able to plan and complete tasks.  Individuals with substance abuse disorders exhibit defects in cognitive functioning. Executive functioning deals with regulating goal-directed behavior.  It keeps the lid on being able to stay in control. Strategic goal planning, organization and cognitive flexibility are all driven by Executive functioning.  Basically executive functioning helps us to plan, remember details, learn from experience and helps us be able to multi-task. It is also our moral compass regulating what we say and keeps in check the impulsive behaviors we fall victim to from time-to-time.  Essentially, it helps us “filter” out those things we wish we could say but know we can’t say. Executive functioning helps us keep impulsive behaviors in check.

If you substance abuse you will suffer a loss of executive functions.  Task accomplishment becomes difficult. Memory is definitely effected with the usage of marijuana.  Short term memory loss develops from regular marijuana use. Marijuana abuse effects gross motor skills if used long enough.  Extensive use of marijuana can also leave you with anxiety and can cause paranoia. Excessive use of marijuana can also create an inability to focus.

Alcohol abuse effects cognitive functioning and stymies learning.  It can also cause you to participate in risky behaviors and cause you to do things you don’t recall.  This can include scenes where you become belligerent and speak without a filter.

Continuous use of pain pills can create “foggy brain” and are highly addictive.  

Be it marijuana, alcohol or prescription drugs all share a similar negative effect on our executive functioning.  

A Therapist that deals in primarily substance abuse will tell you that addicts “freeze” emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at the age at which one starts chronically abusing.  For every year the addiction continues you lose out on that year from your emotional, psychological and spiritual development. An example of this would be if someone started chronically drinking at age 20, drank for 20 years and then decided to quit that individual’s emotional, psychological and spiritual development will pick up at the age of 21, not 41.  What should have been learned developmentally from the ages of 21 to 41 is lost permanently and you cannot regain the experience of those years to go back and correct them.

Knowing the ill effects of drug and alcohol abuse on executive functioning gives you an idea of just how unhealthy addictions can be.  

Let the O’Connor Professional Group take the guesswork out of putting a treatment plan together. Our combined personal and professional experience empowers us to empower you with a private consultation and customized plan of action for getting the help you need. Call us today for information: 617 910-3940

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