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Cognitive Decline While In Recovery
So 3-4 years ago I began to really abuse substances to the point where I started to loose all of my close friends and eventually got kicked out of university while I was in my third year, not like I was going to get my degree with the shape I was in at the time.

I've had many slip ups in regards to my recovery, but I believe that I've finally reached a point where I can confidently say that I'm getting there (1+ year without any "hard" drugs). I sometimes give in and dabble in a few chems (1P-LSD / Other Psychedelics) if I have time off work but I do certainly avoid my trouble substances.

It's been such a slow process for me attempting to fit in to society again I have very little interest in trivial matters that all of my peers spend their time chatting about and when it comes to socialising I find it extremely difficult to talk open and freely like I used to. I just don't see why I should apply myself to do anything, I thought this "fuck it" feeling would subside as I got into the later stage of my recovery process but it's stayed with me and looks like it's not going to leave anytime soon.

One thing that I have certainly noticed about myself is how I'm not as sharp as I once used to be. I find spelling difficult, when talking I forget simple words mid sentence and my memory is so terrible that others have even picked up on it. It's at the stage where it is genuinely effecting my day to day life.

So I guess this is how the rest of my life is going to play out while attempting to stay clean. I've gone from a full of life teenager into a mindless, lazy 23 year old with no ambition whatsoever.

I'm wondering if anyone else has any similar experiences?

Would love to know if substance abuse has led to cognitive functions not working as they once did

Would like to also hear about anyone finding it hard to fit into the role of an everyday person after such a hectic 4 years.

- PowerPot
Well the good news is, I'd be very surprised if you'd actually broken anything, so I don't think cognitive decline is an accurate description. It sounds like you just slacked off to such an extent that you've lost your discipline, for want of a better word. We all do this and sometimes you have to in order to gain perspective. In all cases where I've ever fallen from the tracks like that I've ended up recovering via physical exercise, not because of fitness in itself, more due to the regularity and ability to tolerate temporary discomfort that develops.

It's understandable that you call it decline, but I think really you've just got out of practice. Maybe you were simply doing the wrong degree and weren't fully engaged, because you just went with the school>college>Uni flow without stopping to think about what it really was that you wanted? More good news: at 23 years old you've plenty of time to recover properly to where you should be, in fact enough time to make all these mistakes again, possibly several times. Once you get a bit slack it can seem like you've lost ambition, but it's more likely that it's been so long since your actions led to anything satisfying that effort seems futile. Effort isn't futile though. There isn't a mountain in the world that ultimately isn't worth climbing, either in terms of simple exercise, gazing down on beautiful landscapes, or better yet, training yourself to stand at the bottom and tell yourself you'll make it to the top, and then doing it. It's down to the individual how metaphorical you think this mountain is.

If you want to get back into full time education, the courses you did complete will likely count in some way towards rejoining, if you decide there's something you're interested in, in the future. If you want to write a book, pick up a pen, if you want to make music download some software and do it. You might fail, but you'll have tried and as a result, you'll know whether or not that was the thing for you and if not, turn your attentions elsewhere. But do something. Eventually, you'll certainly find an activity which fully engages you, you'll receive the resulting reward of satisfaction and this motivation you think you've lost will be back in all it's glory. It hasn't gone, you've just become cynical about action getting you what you want. But it can. You might have to fail a couple of times, but in the end, it will deliver.

An easy way to make everything more difficult is to imagine a big black world of drug-free maudlin pain and boredom stretching from this moment now all the way up to the end of your life. But it isn't like that. There'll always be pain, but it's better that it's the pain involved in getting over obstacles rather than the pain of regret at inaction as the days tick by. Don't be the victim of drugs. If you like them and they help you, use them, it's a 10,000 year-old tradition, closely connected with virtually all human cultural advancement. But don't let drugs use you and trap you, or you'll be like an engineer, pinned under a pile of tools that could have constructed the world's best machine.

Take time to reflect, because the journey is easier if you're engaged in what you do. But if you can't decide, just do anything. Consider whether any of the things you've done really were as hard as you thought they'd be. When you realise they weren't, apply that to other things. Take a look at the bumbling fuckwits everywhere who have everything they want. Is any one of them really any better than you? You had a wild time, but you learned in the process. Be grateful you didn't fall from the tracks with more at state and heed the lesson.

Eat well, stay fit, love yourself more and never give up hope. Somewhere, sooner or later, you'll find the thing that makes you leap out of bed wanting to seize the day. Start looking straight away.
I'm in a very similar boat PowerPot and funnily enough we both got a bit to involved with the same chemical if I'm not mistaken.. Not that it proves anything but interesting nonetheless. I also keep wondering if I've destroyed parts of my brain for good, but I honestly think a massive part of that is down to lack of sleep. On the rare occasion that I get a proper 8 hours, I definitely don't feel as stupid the next day! Question is, are you getting enough kip?
Brilliant reply from Corinth and I'm sorry to hear you feel like this Powerpot

I remember when you were really struggling with your substance use. I wasn't aware you'd been kicked out of Uni, but you should be so proud of how far you've come from then & how you've remained committed to recovery despite the uncomfortable drawbacks

The only thing I have to add to what Corinth said is to maybe get yourself checked out with your GP & rule out anything untoward with the standard blood etc tests so you can get on with the business of recovering & discovering enjoyment of life without that nagging doubt on your shoulder and without substance abuse

Well done, you've come a long way & you've got a lot further to go x
This.....is real life
So where are you a strong dissociative user? Or was it the stims that ruined shit for ya. I'm curious.
love the world and it will love you back. chin
Thank you immensely for posting so honestly, PowerPot, and thanks for the helpful replies. I can identify with the cognitive problems you've had, I've experienced all the same apparent deficiencies. For me, discovering the RC scene occurred just as I was dealing (or maybe not dealing) with an extremely stressful and confusing situation, coinciding with kicking a long-term alcohol addiction. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, and got into one chemical after another as they came and went, but using several at once much of the time. The ones I took to a possibly dangerous degree (for my brain) were methoxphenidine and various cannabinoid receptor agonists, although stim use in phases may also be involved (esp 4f-mph). I took doses of MXP that should be fatal at times till I ran out, although I managed to stretch out my 'noids stash for months by gradually lowering dosage as my tolerance decreased to match. I can now get a decent stone from weed, yay. Well I would if it was legal, ahem.
The good news is that things are coming back, and I hope that's true for you, PowerPot, even if the progress is slow. I had already done a fair bit of damage to myself with alcohol, so it's hard to guess where things will end up with me. Memory has perked up a lot, and I'm getting a bit better at being social through volunteering for a charity shop (lost my paid job a while back) and improving my contact with my few friends. I still can't be bothered with small-talk, but don't particularly want to start with it when there's so much more important stuff going on everywhere. Oh, yes, and I waffle more than I used to, sorry there I go again.
PS. I think 1p-LSD helped me sort my emotional baggage out, no down-side to that.
I have some hope that cannabis will be decriminalised, and I'll try hard not to let that take over my life (I used to be a grower for a living, busted twice, and was too much of a stoner).
I hope things get much better for you and anyone else reading your post who's been similarly affected. Big thanks again for opening up to us.
Don't ever let a few busts stop you from growing trees. It never has for me. ;-)
love the world and it will love you back. chin

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