Cerebral vascular accidents (CVA), more commonly referred to as strokes, result from conditions that disrupt or limit the blood to all or certain parts of the brain.
Depending on the scope of the damage, the results of the CVA can be localized, or they can be very general in nature. The ability to recover from a CVA depends on a number of factors, including the scope of the damage, pre-existing health factors, the person’s age, and the type of stroke, with ischemic strokes typically being more chronic in nature and therefore more difficult to recover from. Individuals can make full recoveries or partial recoveries, depending on a number of these issues. The development of a CVA is dependent on various different factors, including genetic and lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, and substance use history.
Most of these drugs are associated with ischemic damage to the brain; however, stimulant drugs, including cocaine and PCP, are also drugs with a high potential to produce hemorrhagic CVAs, especially during overdoses or binges.
Dementia is another umbrella term that includes a number of neurological conditions. The term dementia is associated with a decrease of intellect and cognitive functions, particularly beginning with memory loss and often progressing to include other cognitive functions, such as expressive and receptive language abilities, attention and concentration, the ability to make judgments and plan, and visual-spatial abilities. There are literally hundreds of disorders that can result in some form of dementia, and there are many different types of dementia that have been recognized.
Dementia is most often the result of some chronic condition, although individuals who experience acute trauma to the brain may develop syndromes that are very similar to dementia. A number of drugs of abuse have been associated with the development of dementia in individuals.
In addition, individuals with chronic alcoholism may develop a syndrome known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which includes severe dementia in its presentation. The syndrome is not a result of alcohol abuse directly, but as a result of severe dietary deficiencies in thiamine that often occur in alcoholics who do not eat properly for long periods of time.
Seizures result from changes in the electrical activity in the brain and may produce issues with thinking, movement, and bodily control. Seizures can occur as a result of a number of different neurological disorders. There are several drugs of abuse that are associated with the development of seizures under certain conditions.
Seizures are often temporary manifestations of drug abuse (except in the case of individuals who have CVAs or other severe brain damage as a result of heavy drug abuse).
Ataxia refers to conditions that affect coordination or body movements in an individual. Chronic use of a number of different drugs may result in the development of ataxia. Of course, neurological conditions, such as stroke and dementia that may be related to substance abuse, can also result in ataxia. Chronic use of other drugs is known to directly be associated with ataxia, such as organic solvents (inhalants) and PCP (angel dust).
Encephalopathy refers to brain damage that is associated with altered mental states. Encephalopathy is often considered a complication of some other primary issue, such as cirrhosis of the liver or lack of oxygen to the brain. In some cases, the effects of encephalopathy can be reduced by treatment, and in other cases, when the damage is extensive, it may not be able to be reversed at all.
Obviously, any chronic drug abuse that affects liver functions may also result of the development of encephalopathy in an individual. The primary drugs that produce liver damage include alcohol, other central nervous system depressants such as opioid drugs and benzodiazepines, and cocaine and other stimulants or amphetamines.
Drugs that produce decreased respiration or result in individuals becoming comatose as a result of using too much of the drug can result in the development of encephalopathy due to hypoxia (significantly decreased levels of oxygen in the brain). In cases where the individual develops anoxia (a total lack of oxygen to the brain), the damage associated with encephalopathy may be permanent. Most often, this includes drugs that have central nervous system depressant actions, such as alcohol, narcotic painkillers, benzodiazepines, and sedatives. Any drugs used in high doses that result in direct brain damage may produce encephalopathy.