While the adverse cognitive effects of prescription medications have long been known within the medical community (2), health experts have recently undertaken efforts to educate the public on these side effects (1). Numerous prescription drugs have been linked to memory impairment, including:
- Benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs - A study published in the British Medical Journal found a dose-effect relationship between benzodiazepines and dementia/Alzheimer's disease (3). Benzodiazepines-which include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and others-appear to interfere with the transfer of events from short-term to long-term memory, creating an "amnesic" effect (1).
- Opioid painkillers - Researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncologythat opioids can cause "measurable cognitive impairment, even at low doses," particularly during initial or occasional use (4). While prescription opioids-such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Dilaudid-are designed to dampen pain signals, they also affect chemical messengers involved in cognition, including short-term and long-term memory (1).
- Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drugs - Around 35% of adults using TCAs-which include Elavil, Norpramin and Pamelor-reported memory loss, and 54% said they had trouble concentrating (1). Experts believe these memory issues result from TCAs blocking the action of norepinephrine and serotonin (1).
- Cholesterol-lowering statins - Cholesterol performs a beneficial role in the brain by forming connections between nerve cells. While statins such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor may lower the risk of heart disease, they can also impede learning and memory (1). Researchers found 75% of statin users experienced cognitive issues "probably or definitely related to statin therapy" (5).
Others prescription medications linked to memory loss include sleeping aids, first-generation antihistamines, hypertension medications, incontinence drugs, anti-seizure medications and Parkinson's drugs (1).
"Many patients never bother to review the side effects of prescription medications, assuming the litany of potential issues is not likely to affect them," noted Kent Runyon, Vice President of Community Relations and Chief Strategy and Compliance Officer for Novus Medical Detox Center. "However, the research tells a different story-these cognitive and memory-related issues are far more common than most people realize."
Runyon urges patients already taking prescription medications to carefully read the side effects listed on the packaging or pharmacy insert to determine if any issues they're experiencing may be drug-related. He also cautions against accepting new prescriptions without question, advising patients to take time to discuss all of the available therapies with their doctor before proceeding with a course of treatment.
"Patients may opt to try other drugs with fewer side effects, or a lower dosage. In many cases, non-drug therapies offer an equally effective solution without the potential for side effects," explained Runyon. "It's important to understand the risks linked to prescription drugs, which can range from cognitive impairments to other health issues, and potentially even dependency or addiction. That's why it's critical to evaluate all of the options before deciding on a course of treatment."
Novus has helped wean many patients off highly addictive drugs through its medically supervised detox programs, including benzodiazepine addiction (http://novusdetox.
For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its prescription drug detox programs, visit www.novusdetox.com.
About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox is a Joint Commission Accredited inpatient medical-detox facility. Novus offers safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs in a peaceful, relaxed and tranquil spa-like setting. Bordering a protected conservation area, Novus lies on 3.25 acres and provides a perfect setting for quiet walks. Novus is located in New Port Richey, Florida, and is also licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and is known for minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medication, drugs or alcohol by creating a customized detox program for each patient. By incorporating medication, natural supplements and fluid replenishment, Novus tailors the detox process for each patient. There is 24/7 medical supervision, including round-the-clock nursing care and access to a withdrawal specialist. Novus' expansion is tied to their contribution to their industry and their local community, ranking in the Florida Business Journal's top 500, the Tampa Bay Business Journal's Fast 50 and Inc. Magazine's500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for the past 3 years. Novus has become a regular source to the media, such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today publications, as true advocates for standardization of care in detox in order to help more people get their lives back. For more information, visit www.novusdetox.com.
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