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Old 06-10-2007, 12:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How do I get my memory back?

Hello All,
I have been a drug addict for 24 years (Heroin, Benzodiazapines, and Alcohol).
I quit Heroin for the last 6 years and substituted it with Benzo and Alcohol, quantatities I could not begin to mention. I ended up using Heroin again for 7 months until my sober date of Feb. 26, 2007. I went back to Heroin to get out of my very heavy Benzo addiction. Is that crazy or what?! I thought i could "control" my using! How stupid is that! I ended up in rehab with major withdrawal symptoms for 2 weeks. Seizures, hallucinations, tremors-I was going to die.
With the grace of my Higher Power which I call God, I have been sober for 104 days today. The longest time in my life and the only time I have ever really quit.Thanks to NA, The Steps , and my Sponsor. The biggest problem I have now is with my memory. Short-term memory is horrible. I cannot remember what someone just told me sometimes, and sometimes I am sure I did or saw something and I realize later that I haven't. Can anyone relate to this? People around me tell me it's a matter of time and that it will get better. It doesn't seem like it, or am I in too much of a hurry? I have major anxiety attacks and am really afraid of people, especially crowds. I also feel like i'm the only one who feels this bad.
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi there..

I also suffer from terrible anxiety and was a opiate addict. I also have social anxiety
and have panic attacks occasionally.

Sounds like you are doing really well.. Congrats!! Great work!! It's great that youa re involved in a fellowship!! Good for you!! Helps so much..

As far as memory,, this may be either from your using, or else it could also be
from your anxiety, depending on how bad it is. I know that I have a terrible short term memory..

Are you working with any kind of doctor? If so, I would ask him/her,.. But also, give your body time to heal... We have abused our bodies so badly,, that all takes time
to heal..

Hang in ther and Keep posting. It's great to have you here!!


Don't tell God how BIG your addiction is, tell your addiction, how BIG our GOD is!!
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My ex works in the substance abuse field and one of her personal interests is the effect of drug use on the brain. It is well documented that substance abuse causes brain damage, but in the past it was thought that that damage was permenant. However since the advent of more advanced brain imagery scanning it has been shown that, through abstinance, the brain actually heals itself. Some damage is permenant, but a signifent portion, especially the frontal lobe area, regenerates itself.

While it is true that substance abuse destroys brain cells, apparantly when you stop using the nuerotransmitters create new connections with functioning cells to "restore" function.

So in answer to your question about what you can do? Keep doing what you are doing. Our bodies have an amazing way of fixing the terible things we do to them. BTW, it's usually a matter of months and years, rather than days for this to happen. You gotta figure you've been abusing for 20 years, so it won't happen overnight, but it will get better if you don't use. Take care.
Peace and Love,


"I used to do a little but a little wouldn't do it so a little got more and more. I just keep tryin' to get a little better, said a little better than before."
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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"Short term" memory is still a problem for me. I don't really know what is causing it and I don't really know if it can be fixed. I am constantly running into people whom I have not one frame of memory of and it can be embarassing.
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:19 AM   #5 (permalink)

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From my research, Opiates cause zero dead brain cells. So, it was most likely from the Benzo's and Alcohol.

Thankfully, studies by Johns Hopkins are showing that brain cells for short term and medium term memory do regenerate.

Keep clean and keep going!
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My short term is bad as well.
So is my creativity and imagination.
I use to be a great artist before I became hardcore on the drugs.
Now I can hardly draw a circle. No lie.
I will hear someone talking to me and as soon as they stop talking I forgot what they said.
Or they will be talking to me and I like zone out and block it for some reason.
I was clean for a little while and it seemed like it got a little better.
Scientificaly I have no idea.
But in experience I believe with time some can come back.
Dont just count your days...Make your days count!

It may not get easier, But it will get better.
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:49 AM   #7 (permalink)

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Hi Magellan,
I have anxiety/stress problems and have had some trouble with social phobia and panic attacks also.
I agree that speaking to your doctor about these problems would be to your best

You have also been through a lot and still somewhat early in your recovery so try to give your body more time to heal.

There was a period of time after I first got clean that I had trouble even signing my own name, let alone to work on any of the paintings or craft projects I used to enjoy so much.
One of the things that helped me early on was to work on crossword puzzles, "word finds" and connect the dot drawings {like the kind in childrens coloring/activity books!**...This really seemed to help me with my hand-eye-brain coordination so you might give that a try...couldn't hurt! :-)

Best wishes to you and keep up the good work!
~*Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.*~ *Emily Dickinson*

Rest In Peace My Sweet Sammy...2-24-08
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Old 06-10-2007, 10:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm a mess, really I am. I was just on a taper and tapers, thought a Demon was in my room, thought of my dead brother who was killed drunk driving accident 1990, I would have these horrid images in my mind I could not shake of now? i am i very slow withdrawl and I am depressed I want to get high on anything! I'm worst off. I had a panic disorder BEFORE I was a addict ( opiate addiction and dependacy for 4 years and now? I have taken valium w/ xanax and clonopin and beer at same time for any high...the sick thing is? I will crush and snif on damn fing percocete knwo yet it willl not get me high, but it is this sickness, tricks you, you all must know, right? I have found that my panic/anxiety is triggered by withdawl and the new way i think in which is not good. in honesty i lost 4 years and a black-out! I am 43 years of age, no kids thank God and I'm putting my mom through hell money wise, she has the money, it is just after my sister's and all she sees she is not helping me.
I have taken 5Mg's of Methadone and it works, but I wil crave and that is my issue the craving I don't smoke pot and want to do so as of now, I am lucky tho to be a Agoraphbic and family that uses have gotten their acts togather or else i would be with them. seeing this that are not there is serious, this drug took my mind away, yet i crave it with all the knowledge, somethimes the addictional mind is so over powering...So your a Vetran? I wish you luck and blessings that you will one day get a grip, as for me? I am seeking out methadone at a suboxone doctor apointment for the xanax 21 years i have been on? the combo can be fatal, so i hope for methadone, detox programs will not treat me with my legal Rx of xanax, so i am stuck and only getting worst as the past of my abusive childhood and lost of my brother so on is atacking me.
Alcoholism Opiate addict/dependant 4 years "Percocete"
Once I only thought of getting high, now I think: How am I going to get through this w/out going insane.
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Old 06-10-2007, 10:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have come to believe that caffeine in any form effects panic attacks and worsens anxiety in me. I suspect it is because my CNS is already so sensitive due to benzo use.

I think caffeine also affects my memory. At first it makes me feel alive, sharp, almost mentally invincible; but then I crash a bit and I can’t think straight. Sometimes I later realize that I hadn't been thinking as clearly as I thought I was to begin with. It also seems to make it take longer for me to fall asleep, and even after I do, I don’t sleep as well. Too bad it smells and tastes so good (kind of like the way rock cocaine used to smell and taste).

As you read in my thread, I have just quit it again. It strikes me as amazing that if I quit caffeine and make a fairly large cut in benzos simultaneously, withdrawal from both is considerably lessened.

I am not alone in most of this. There have been studies done by the likes of Johns Hopkins that link caffeine with all kinds of mental illnesses, especially anxiety and panic attack. One study even suggested that benzos and caffeine compete for the same GABA receptors. I can post links if you like.

Perhaps you are not drinking caffeine at all and none of this matters. Just my three cents. I also know from past experience that time heals most, if not all, wounds.
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Old 06-10-2007, 04:25 PM   #10 (permalink)

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Barto...My DR almost always asks me about my coffee/caffinated drink consumption when we discuss my anxiety/stress. I just know that I have to careful not to agitate my anxiety/stress by consuming too much...which, thankfully I don't...not so much because I know that but just because I don't need and/or crave it like that. {hope that makes sense, LOL**

I hope you don't think me too silly for suggesting the crossword puzzles, word searches, etc. Seriously, it really helped me regain alot of my hand-eye-brain coordination and I still grab one of my daughters old coloring books occasionally and color a picture just for the fun of it...very relaxing too!

~*Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.*~ *Emily Dickinson*

Rest In Peace My Sweet Sammy...2-24-08
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:06 PM   #11 (permalink)

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if you stay clean and sober long me, it'll comeback to you.

I think or perhapse..our mind got cluter with BS and all kinds
of's hard to focus at first when we get clean and sober.

Reading and writing also helps me to retain my focus.
it was a bit tough at first becuase I couldn't read more
then a paragraph at a time without my head hurting or
my mind drifting all over the place.

Writing a journal also help me stay focus but it also
help me to do short term memories of what happened for the day...
Doing the 4th step...that's an excersize in recalling long term memories.

Making a gradtitue list was the first excersize my sponsor
asked me to do...I have to sit and excersize my mind and
put it all on paper. At first it was hard to be greatful for anything.
but I made the list..the pen just started rolling..
my brain is capiable of recalling...

it's just got used to recalling dope dealers #...and the routine of
getting high ...that's all.

These are some of the benifits of working the 12 steps.
Excesizing our mind instead of vegging or trip out all the time..

the principle of recovery is there...
Oneday at a time...five minutes at a time
eventaully to a moment at a time
eventaully to right here right NOW..Be in the moment
Why ?'ll figure out...who's in control ?
you..or your head..
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thank you guys for the hopeful and helpful replies. I honestly feel that I am not alone. No Jane I do not think you're silly at all. I have been trying stranger stuff lol and Barto, I think you have a point especially that I drink a ton a caffeine/day. I drink so much that my heart races and I feel like I have electricity running through my body. I don't know why I do it and I know I need to cut down at this point and stop it completely in the near future. You people are great, Thanks.
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:57 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You are very welcome. I wish you success.

Caffeine is tough to quit, at least for me it is. I think I am as addicted to it as I ever have been to anything (and I have been addicted to many things). I am having a little right now just to wake up a bit because I woke groggy again from the damn benzos I took because I couldnt / decided not to go off them C/T. (There goes my three days off!) There are a lot of great people on this website. And I say thanks, too. Maybe one day Ill be able to share my experience with regard to how I got off these damned benzos (and maybe the caffeine, too).
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:43 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Just Wondering

If you ever had any luck with the short term memory recovery? I was wondering if some of the natural stuff like ginseng and gingko biloba are of any help and if anybody tried them.

Like Peter said, it can be damn embarrasing, but it also very frightening on a certain level.

Anyways I stumbled on this post because I see we have the same birthday and the same recovery date, only different years.

Just wondering if you found anything that helped you.

Signature made by my son Alex.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Hello Bozo,
The only thing that helped me was time. I also eat tons of fish, dunno if that helped or not. I'm almost 10 months clean and sober.
It's most definately better.
Wow, what a coincedance? Happy birthday! I'm 41 today..Thank you for sharing that. Have a wonderful day!
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:35 AM   #16 (permalink)

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Happy Birthday ala and Bozo!!7 Glad things are getting better for you!
~*Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.*~ *Emily Dickinson*

Rest In Peace My Sweet Sammy...2-24-08
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:45 AM   #17 (permalink)
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In my opinion as a pathologist who has worked with brain injuries:
Some memory will return. Some permanent damage was prob. done.
You can compensate with writing things down
Keep a small writing pad with you and make lists of things to do, etc.
Keep dates/appointments on a calendar to check ea. day. Make lists.
If you are away w/o paper leave voice message on your phone to remind you.
There is some research about taking cod liver + flax seed oil ea. day.
Healthy diet and exercise stimulate the brain.
Reduce or better yet quit coffee, sodas, cigarettes that can increase anxiety.
Try meditation or yoga. Have faith that you will improve. Have hope that today you will lay your head on the pillow after a sober day.
If tears could build a stairway I'd walk up to Heaven and bring my son home.
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:05 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Great suggestions. I cannot function without the calendar on my mobile and a little note pad in my pocket. Thank you again!
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:36 PM   #19 (permalink)

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Art therapy has helped me much in many ways to improve my memory and general state of being during my abstinence.
First i draw and write my dreams, the subconcious stores a lot of information, so once i have a sketch of the images of my dreams I make a painting, so all these images that have a strange meaning and that are untangible become tangible once we paint them, from that same image i might develop a musical theme. Art therapy can be done individually or in groups, ya dont have to be an expert artist or anything, just do it.
Art therapy heals, creativity is the key to overcoming our addictions, abstinence alone is not enough in my opinion, one has to put the mind into working and healing, i tried quitting my chronic addiction many times unsuccesfully, but this time with art therapy ive stayed clean and have kind of understood the causes of why i became an addict in the first place, whenever i get anxious i paint that feeling, and i go from panic to pleasure and understanding, and now creativity is my religion, my path, it should be your path if ya wanna recover well. im not saying ive won, but it has sure helped me tons.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:51 PM   #20 (permalink)

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another helpful thing can be to paint not only your dreams, but your obsessive thoughts, like your addiction, i painted mine as a sexy green gal with red eyes and with herbs that surround me and possessed me, then i made another painting of myself stepping on top of her, ive made some other painting os the loneliness i feel, I represent loneliness with huge spaces and myself all alone in there, the plane crashes i dream often, i paint them as well, any clue my subconcious gives me is a clue to recovery, our subconciuous is still a virgin no matter how much drugs you took, in the many books ive read about art therapy one author questions if in reality its not the subconcious that really controls de conscious mind?, proof of this are the images we have during our dreams, dreams help regulate and stimulate, and its done in a strange way, thru images, we are not conciously making those images while we sleep, its divine knowledge that lives inside of us giving us clues of what to do, but most of humanity ignores this important fact.
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